The Tiahuanaco culture appeared in about the fourth century AD, on the Bolivian plateau, just a few kilometres from the shores of Lake Titicaca. From there, it spread south, where it merged with the Huari, heirs to a different tradition –the Paracas-Nasca culture.
Titicaca is the largest lake in South America, and one of the highest in the world. It lies at 3,820 metres above sea level, and covers 9,000 square kilometres: about 230 kilometres long by almost 100 wide, and with a maximum depth of 457 m.
The Tiwanaku culture went through a number of different phases: the early phase; the classical age; and the post-Tiwanaku culture. It was a society profoundly marked by its religious beliefs. The inhabitants of the Island of the Sun to this day retain reminders of this religion in the liturgy of their rituals. Before undertaking any action, they call upon their gods, especially Pachamama, the Earth Goddess.
On the islands of the Sun and Moon, we find numerous ruins of Tiwanaku origin, and which were later occupied by the Incas.
The ancient mystical observatories are still used by the shaman in their ceremonies of invocation and meditation.
The monumental city of Tiwanaku was built during the classical age. The famous Barbado or Kontiki monolith presides over the semi-subterranean temple. Were the builders of this colossal city gods or giants? The transport of the enormous stones, and the manner in which they are expertly fitted together, have given rise to numerous theories. But none of these is universally accepted, and Tiwanaku remains an enigma.