Puma Punku


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Section: Pumapunku

Ancient Aliens: “Pumapunku is so unique in the way it was constructed and shaped and positioned that it is the most intriguing ancient site on the planet.”

AA: “While the pyramids at Giza are an incredible feat of achieved, compared to Pumapunku, the pyramids are child’s play.”

AA: “In my opinion, the most significant piece of evidence that we have in this entire ancient alien astronaut puzzle is Pumapunku in the highland of Bolivia.”

Well, if Pumapunku is considered such good evidence for the Ancient Astronaut theory, we should probably start by looking at it. After all, it’s the one that they say was built directly by extra-terrestrials.

AA: “Pumapunku is the only site on planet Earth that, in my opinion, was built directly by extraterrestrials.”

Ancient Aliens starts off with a false dilemma by making people think that it was absolutely impossible for ancient people to construct Pumapunku, even to the point of making outright false claims.

AA: “One of the most intriguing thing there is it that the stones that were used there weren’t sandstone, they’re granite and diorite. The only stone that is harder than diorite is diamond, so the only way this could have been achieved is if the tools were tipped with diamonds.”

This is funny because it’s totally wrong, the stones are not granite or diorite at Pumapunku, they are Red Sandstone and Andesite[1][2][3], but this is also funny because of the way he says it.

AA: “The stones that were used there weren’t sandstone, they’re granite and diorite.”

Well yeah, actually it is sandstone. You can’t blame him though for it becomes obvious that throughout the series he often just repeats things he has heard in Eric Von Daniken’s books. Von Daniken’s books are what the Ancient Aliens series is based on. Later we see Eric Von Daniken himself make the exact same, totally wrong claim.

AA: “Of course [Pumapunku was] made out of stones found on Earth, because you don’t transport granite or diorite from another solar system.”

Von Daniken continues building up this false dilemma:

AA: “One of these platforms is 800 tons.”

That is very incorrect, the heaviest block at Pumapunku is 130 tons[4], and most of the stones are much smaller than that. So he is off by a whopping 670 tons! Unfortunately we will come to expect this kind of thing from Von Daniken as we progress.

Ancient Aliens spends quite a lot of time pointing out the various features in the stone masonry at Pumapunku before declaring it impossible to do without power tools.

AA: “Each of these small drills holes are basically evenly spaced along this routed groove. To me it’s clear that power tools have been used on this unusual block of stone here.”

AA: “This surface is as smooth as a table top, like in your kitchen. There’s no wave to it. This was machined.”

The sandstone and andesite stones at Pumapunku would have been easily worked with the most basic stone working tools[5][6], the idea that diamond tipped power saws were needed is ridiculous. The red sandstone was relatively soft and easy to work with, and even though andesite is pretty hard, because of the way it cooled it could be easily flaked off using stones as soft as 5.5 on the Mohs scale.[7] Such pounding stones were found all over andesite quarries in the area.[8]

Contrary to Ancient Aliens’ claims that archeologists are baffled by Pumapunku, Archeologists know the basics about how Pumapunku’s stones were cut and shaped.[9][10] This is partly because there is evidence for this all over the site itself.

They actually used a method that almost all ancient stone workers used. They used hard -pounding stones to pound out troth like depressions; later on they used flat stones and sand to grind the stone to make a polished surface.[11] We will see later on that this is also how the Egyptians, 1000’s of years before this, made their flat surfaced granite monuments like obelisks.[12]

Sand, as we will see later when we look at Egypt, has extremely hard particles in it and, if placed between a flat surface and a rock, can polish even the hardest stones known to man. In fact, the harder the stone is the better it can be polished using sand.[13]

We will also see that how sand can turn a piece of copper into a very efficient granite saw or granite drill – a method which the Egyptians utilized quite well.[14]

Some stones at Pumapunku that Ancient Aliens would never show the cameras are the ones that were in the middle of this process. They show that at the same time a stone was being pounded by stone hammers, which created these troth like depressions, the grinding and polishing was taking place on the other end of the stone.[15] Unfinished stones like this one clearly show how they were shaped – and it wasn’t with lasers.

There is also unmistakable evidence of stone hammers having been used in the places that were never meant to be visible, like where certain stones would be connected with one another.[16] And because of that, it’s hard for me to believe Eric Von Daniken’s next claim, because it would mean that the alien tool box had a laser gun right next to a stone hammer.

AA: “Extraterrestrials arrive; the spaceship stands in orbit. Only a small spaceship can stand, like a space shuttle. So, to protect their instruments they (the aliens) make, overnight, with their technology, what we call a base camp. Of course [this was] made out of stones found on Earth, because you don’t transport granite or diorite from another solar system. Then they disappeared, but the wall of their base camp is still there.”

It is true that stone tools would not be enough to construct Pumapunku, especially for some of the finer points. For those they would need metal chisels, and the equivalent of a carpenter’s square.[17]

Entire studies have detailed how these cuts were made, and nothing spectacular is required except some metal tools like chisels.[18] The arguments against this are usually either that a particular culture did not yet know how to cast metals, or that copper chisels would have been too weak.

On the first point, we know that the Pre-Incan Andean culture was very skilled at fashioning metals and creating metal alloys.[19]

In fact, the people who built Pumapunku were even pouring copper alloys into molds right on site,[20] showing that they had more than enough capability to form all kinds of metal tools. The question is: what about the tool’s strength?

Even if they were pouring pure copper into the mold it would still work, but it would need sharpening often but, because archeologist actually found a few of these metal cramps used by them on site,[21][22] we now know that they were using a very strong copper arsenic nickel alloy,[23]  Which made a much stronger final product.

Arsenic acts as a de-oxidant preventing the metal from becoming too brittle[24], and nickel was used in copper alloys specifically to make stronger chisels.[25] Once you understand that they had the ability to make strong metal tools in a huge variety of shapes, there is no part of Pumapunku’s stone work that would have been too difficult for them.

Well what about these 90-degree right angles that Ancient Aliens’ makes such a fuss about?

AA: “One of the amazing things here at Pumapunku is the precision of the blocks. You can see with this block of granite that it’s really been cut at very accurate 90-degree angles.”

To make flat surfaces with right angles you don’t need alien technology, you only need a square or a simple equivalent. It’s important to keep in mind that Pumapunku would have been built 1000’s of years after the Egyptians, who had all kinds of squares and plumb bobs and levels and so on[26], it’s a pretty basic stone working tool.

That being said, despite what Ancient Aliens says, Pumapunku is not all perfect right angles. You can even see this, ironically enough, as the Ancient Aliens crew goes around with carpenters squares. You can see some of them simply are not square.

Also they make claims like all the H blocks are the same dimensions, which they say suggest they were made by a big machine, but not only would that not be the only conclusion if it were true, it’s not even true.

The dimensions of the H blocks are not all the same, though they are close[27]. It is probably the case that there were made using the same plans.

Speaking of plans…

AA: “Mainstream archaeologists say that Pumapunku was built by Amara Indians. [However] we would all have to agree that, in order to build something like Pumapunku, you need writing; you need planning, and you also need some sort of idea where which piece goes and how it ultimately all fits together. But there is one thing that mainstream archaeologists agree upon [and that is] that the Amara didn’t have any writing. How is it possible that the Amara built all this without any plans?”

The builders of Pumapunku may not have had an alphabet, but they did use the common iconography or artwork of their culture called Yaya Mama.[28][29]  All the icons on the site are Yaya Mama, not secret alien code, and this is but one of the many indications of the culture and time that it was built.[30]

But my point is that, like many cultures, they used pictures instead of an alphabet and, like most building plans, they used pictures like blueprints. So saying that no alphabet means no planning is, in my opinion, pretty ridiculous.

Well, what about moving the stones and lifting them into place? Surely that would have required levitation…

AA: “How these massive blocks of granite were moved from their quarries and brought here to Pumapunku would have required some kind of super technology. Levitation; anti-gravity, huge lifting vehicles…something that ancient aliens would have had.”

If they did know how to levitate these stones then they put far too much effort in creating places in the stones to attach ropes to.

Many stones have grooves several centimeters in width and depth on two adjacent faces for holding ropes.[31] They even had special places cut into the stones that Pumapunku scholars call “hoisting grips.”[32] These are all very strange things to do if they could simply levitate these blocks.

To make matters worse for the Ancient Astronaut theory, according to archeologist Jean-Pierre Protzen, an expert on Pumapunku, there is almost no stone at the Pumapunku site that does not have what he calls “drag marks” on one of its faces[33], where it has been…well dragged to the site.

Ancient Aliens throws another false dilemma here:

AA: “What nobody talks about is the irrefutable fact that we are at an altitude of 12,800 feet which means we are above the natural tree line. No trees ever grew in that area, meaning that no trees were cut down in order to use wooden rollers. The wooden roller theory falls by the wayside.”

This is like saying that there is no way that the Egyptians used wood because trees didn’t grow in Egypt. The difference is that while the Egyptians had to import wood from places like Lebanon, it would have been far easier for those at Pumapunku to solve this problem for all they would have had to do is walk down the hill a little bit.

Ok well what about this claim:

AA: “Logic does not exist at Pumapunku because there we have megalithic structures which just lie around this entire site as if ripped apart by some great force.”

I propose that logic still exists at Pumapunku, and that the scattered state of the complex can be easily explained. To quote from archeologist Alexi Vranich: “the high quality of the stones made it attractive building material for houses, churches, plazas, bridges, even railways.”[34]

In other words, the stones were pulled down and hauled off by locals for building material. In fact, we even have the 400 year old writings of a visitor to Pumapunku who said that the looting was in full swing even back then. He wrote that if the site was closer to town, he didn’t think there would have been any stones left at all.[35]

Ancient Aliens says that Pumapunku is 17,000 years old!

This is what Vranich said of this claim:

“The idea that Tiwanaku is 14,000 years old is based on a rather faulty study done in 1926. Since then, there has been a huge quantity of work both on the archaeology and geology of the area, and all data indicates that Tiwanaku existed from around A.D. 300-500.”[36]

For more information on the faulty study he is referring to here I will quote at length from Jason Colavito, who has been debunking ancient astronaut theories for years in his books and blogs. He said the following about this claim.

“Tiwanaku is not 17,000 years old. This date derives from the work of Arthur Posnansky, who tried to apply archaeoastronomy to the site but did so in ways that modern scholars do not recognize as legitimate. Posnansky proposed a date of 15,000 B.P. (before present, i.e. 13,000 BCE), which the geniuses on Ancient Aliens misread as 15,000 BCE, adding an extra 2,000 years to Posnansky’s already flawed dates.

Here’s what he did wrong. Posnansky assumed that the Kalasasaya temple at Tiwanaku was laid out with perfect accuracy to align to the equinoxes and solstices that he felt (but could not prove) were important to the Tiwanaku people.

Thus, on a certain day the sun was supposed to rise above one rock at the temple and set behind another – ah, but which rock should we choose? Since the current ruins do not align with these celestial events accurately, he concluded that the ruins must have been built at a time when they would have aligned with that event.

Since the sun and sky change positions at a predictable rate due to gradual changes in the angle of the earth’s axis, he concluded that Kalasasaya was built in 13,000 BCE as a solar observatory, despite no other evidence of solar astronomy at the site.

The long and short of it is that Posnansky assumed celestial alignments and assumed flawless construction and then used his assumptions to “prove” that his assumptions were correct.

Colavito also has this picture of the site with the caption: “Pick a rock, any rock. One of them must align with something”

This site has been dated using a huge variety of methods. Things like carbon dating; the type of metals they used, the debris found in certain places, the type of iconography they used. Literally every kind of dating method applied comes to the same conclusion: It was constructed in the early middle ages.[37]

Before we conclude this section on Pumapunku there are two other claims I wanted to address:

AA: “The Spanish asked the Inca, the people living there, including the king of the Inca ‘What is this Pumapunku?’ and they all said ‘It’s not us. It’s not our forefathers that made this. This was made by the gods in one, single night.’ Usually a king is proud of what his people did, about the precision. [However] in this case the chief of the people said ‘No. It was not us. It was the gods who made it’.

If you understand a little about the Incan imperial system and religion, you will understand why the Incans didn’t claim the site and why they claimed that it had a supernatural origin.

Part of the Incan state religion was that the Incan empire was the first civilization and was created by God himself. It was a very convenient idea for bolstering the Incan case for the right to rule everyone else.

When the Incans arrived at Pumapunku the site had already been abandoned for at least 100 years.[38] Admitting that there was a pre-Incan culture at all, let alone one with more skill than them, would have been detrimental to the whole scheme.

So they slightly modified their already existing mythology to include Pumapunku. So, instead of Virachoca creating the Incan capital, he also created Pumapunku. Just like that the Incans were still the oldest and greatest civilization, even though everyone probably knew it wasn’t true.

Finally, Ancient Aliens says the following about what the ancient local people believed regarding who constructed Pumapunku:

AA: “Local legend suggests that Tianaka was built as a site of religious pilgrimage to celebrate the arrival of sky gods.”

This is a total lie. Viracocha came from the sea not the sky. This is a very sneaky move by Ancient Aliens in my opinion.

In conclusion, the stones are not made of Granite and Diorite. The stones were easily workable with the tools available to the Andean culture – tools which we know included high-quality metal-alloyed chisels.

These tools would have been more than sufficient to make the angles seen at Pumapunku. The faces of the rocks have been finished using a polishing technique after being rough cut using stone hammers – evidenced by the unfinished stones and hidden areas of the finished stones.

The moving of the stones was not as difficult as Ancient Aliens makes it seem, especially when you take into account they are telling people that the stones weigh 600 tons more than they actually do. The stones have tell-tale drag marks and hoisting holes for ropes, all showing that they were not levitated as Ancient Aliens would have us believe.

We know the culture which built this monument, and all the iconography and sculptures are consistent with that culture. The various methods of dating that scientist use all point to the same time period. The idea that Pumapunku was from Atlantean times we now know is based on a very transparently flawed presupposition which, with modern equipment, can be easily demonstrated to be false.


[1] Ponce Sanginés, C. and G. M. Terrazas, 1970, Acerca De La Procedencia Del Material Lítico De Los Monumentos De Tiwanaku. Publication no. 21. Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia

[3] Isbell, William H. (2004), “Palaces and Politics in the Andean Middle Horizon”, in Evans, Susan Toby; Pillsbury, Joanne, Palaces of the Ancient New World, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection,

[4] Sanginés (1970)

[5] Jean Pierre Protzen, “Who Taught the Inca Stonemasons Their Skills? A Comparison of Tiahuanaco and Inca Cut-Stone Masonry,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 146-167.

[6] Sanginés (1970)

[7] Jean Pierre Protzen, “Inca Quarrying and Stone Cutting,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 44, No. 2 (May, 1985)

[8] Protzen (1997)

[9] Ibid.

[10] Sanginés (1970)

[11] Protzen (1997)

[12] Dieter Arnold. “Building in Egypt; Pharaonic Stone Masonry.” Building in Egypt; Pharaonic Stone Masonry, n.d. http://hbar.phys.msu.ru/gorm/ahist/arnold/arnold.htm.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Archae Solenhofen. “Ancient Egyptian Stoneworking Tools and Methods.” Ancient Egyptian Stoneworking Tools and Methods, March 31, 2002. http://www.oocities.org/unforbidden_geology/ancient_egyptian_copper_slabbing_saws.html.

[15] Protzen (1997)

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] COLIN A. COOKE, MARK B. ABBOTT, ALEXANDER P. WOLFE. “Metallurgy in Southern South America.” Metallurgy in Southern South America, n.d. http://faculty.eas.ualberta.ca/wolfe/eprints/cooke_encyclopedia_chp.pdf.

[20] Protzen (1997)

[21] Ibid.

[22] Lechtman, H.N., 1998, Architectural cramps at Tiwanaku: copper-arsenic-nickel bronze. In Metallurgica Andina: In Honour of Hans-Gert Bachmann and Robert Maddin, Deutsches, edited by T. Rehren, A. Hauptmann, and J. D. Muhly, pp. 77-92. Bergbau-Museum, Bochum, Germany.

[23] Ibid.

[24] The New Scientist. “A Chronology of Prehistoric Metallurgy:” A Chronology of Prehistoric Metallurgy:, October 23, 1993. http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/metallurgy.htm.

[25] See 19.

[26] See 12.

[27] Protzen (1997)

[28] Vranich, A., 1999, Interpreting the Meaning of Ritual Spaces: The Temple Complex of Pumapunku, Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Doctoral Dissertation

[30] Ibid.

[31] Protzen (1997)

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Vranich, A., 1999

[35] Ibid.

[36] archaeology.org. “Tiwanaku Q&A.” Tiwanaku Q&A, n.d. http://www.archaeology.org/interactive/tiwanaku/qanda.html.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Protzen (1997)