It has been nearly a decade that Lake Titicaca was found to be home to underwater ruins which are most likely the remains of an entire city. Myths started from the 1950s that in parts of the lake there may have been a thriving city which was then submerged due to an earthquake or another natural disaster.
There has been some difficulty to recover artifacts since the lake is the highest in the world at 3,800m above sea level. The remains of the underwater city are far-reaching, not only encompassing the lake in Peru but onwards to parts of Bolivia as well.
Inca Or Earlier?
Many historians believe that it is unlikely the underwater city belonged to the Incas as many of the recovered artifacts are well over 1500 years old. This can point towards earlier civilizations that have existed on the banks of Lake Titicaca before they were claimed by high water levels.
Many hypotheses, however, have stated that due to the similarity of architecture, such as the kind found in Cuzco and Machu Picchu, it is possible that the Incas played a part.
Others state that many structures could have been added as the city was conquered. Sites which were constructed by the Incas in the 14th and 15th centuries could merely have derived inspiration from earlier settlers.
What Has Been Discovered
Ceramic artifacts have been identified in abundance on the lake floor along with a temple that is more or less intact measuring 50 meters wide and 200 meters long.
A terrace has been found as well which were commonly cut in hills for crop purposes. This has led many to believe that the topography of the area may have been vastly different a thousand years ago.
A road which varies from the ones designed by Incas in their cities has also been found and the remains of a containing wall which runs for 800 meters.
Experts and divers have stated that the ruins that have been found so far are only the tip of the iceberg. As excavations continue, more will come to light about the purpose of the submerged city.
All of the above 200 dives that have taken place until the present day are not without their own problems. The underwater road which is at an approximate depth of 20 meters has proved as a map to lead the divers to the other ruins.
In general, the divers have had difficulties reaching the ruins which are at greater depths as navigation is tricky. Different underwater diving techniques are being applied in order to discover the deeper set ruins.
The locals of the area, such as the inhabitants of the Island of the Sun have also put up resistance claiming that the diving expeditions affect the sanctity of the lake.
The lake is still believed to possess mystical powers of healing so the locals are possessive of it and do not approve of intrusive attempts to reach the ruins.
The People Of The Ruins
The underwater city is thought to belong to the Tiwanaku people that were a major civilization before the Incas. The full extent of the ruins is about two football pitches.
The temple that was discovered underwater is thought to be one of particular geographical significance. Many experts have postulated that this temple was a place where people gathered in the form of a pilgrimage and that it had vast religious implications for the region.
The Tiwanaku people constructed mainly from stone which is why many of their structures are still in place today.
The utensils and pots of the Tiwanaku people have been recovered from the underwater ruins as well as human bones and animal remains. This has led to the creation of the theory that people were alive when the natural catastrophe plummeted the city to the bottom of the lake.
Not only has the underwater temple been singled out as a major religious site for the surrounding area, but the mystique of the city is also enhanced by the lake’s inherent qualities.
The lake is believed to be the origin point of the Incas as well as the ancestors of other civilizations, namely Manto Capac and Mama Ocllo. These two figures were important for the Inca mythology, were relevant for the Tiwanaku civilization and are still revered by the Uros of the floating islands.
Creation Of An Underwater Museum
People planning to come to Peru for a Titicaca retreat may find it interesting that the creation of an underwater museum is underway. Further discovery will unveil new wonders, apart from the 24 sites which have already been identified.
The preservation project which is both for the Tiwanaku sites on-shore, as well as those underwater is scheduled to be completed in 2020. Unesco is helping to fund the project which can cost anywhere upwards of $10 million.
The museum project will seek to preserve two aspects, the first being underwater human settlements. This is where thousands of artifacts like pottery and bone remains were found. The second aspect is of spiritual sites which include the underwater temple where statues and religious ornaments have been excavated.
While the larger immovable structures will remain underwater, smaller artifacts that have been collected will be showcased in a building on-shore.
Impact On The Community
Since the underwater ruins of Lake Titicaca have been popularized, there has been an immense outpour of tourist interest in the area. With further excavations and accessibility points, the locals will benefit from the increased revenue.
The Peruvian government is keen that this will stop the locals from moving to other areas like populated cities for work and employment opportunities.
Ripe For Discovery
The scope of the underwater ruins in Lake Titicaca is ripe for discovery with subaquatic techniques and geological surveying being undertaken for mapping.
In recent dives, artifacts which are from the Inca period have also been recovered which means that there is more to the story than meets the eye.
Small statues and figures which are shaped like the puma have been found. The puma was an important animal for the Incas and often a part of their ritualistic practices. A great deal of gold fragments has been discovered as well, giving rise to the belief that the temple was meant only for nobility.
When the excavations are complete, new evidence may emerge about the purpose of the city and the people that lived in it.
For now, so much of the ruins are a mystery and the exact purpose of the site has not been determined.
Tiwanaku- The Possible Ancestors
The Incas were like a sweeping phenomenon in this part of the world as they both established power and lost it within the span of two to three hundred years. Comparisons have always been drawn between the Tiwanaku and the Inca ruins and it is possible the former were the ancestors of the Inca.
Now with conflicting artifacts being discovered in the underwater ruins, this theory has been further strengthened.
The underwater ruins are compared with the famous submerged lost city of Atlantis. And just like Atlantis, there is no telling what treasure remains to be found in the depths.