Voyage to the American Stonehenge

Voyage to the American Stonehenge

VOYAGE TO THE AMERICAN STONEHENGE Thursday, 09 April 2009 - 08:30PM

In the magnificently stark landscape of the Bolivian highlands lies Tiwanaku, a 2,000 year old city that was home to one of the most influential civilizations in pre-Inca South America.

Scattered throughout this remarkable metropolis are huge temples, pyramids and delicately carved monoliths constructed from colossal slabs of stone. But Tiwanaku's beauty comes with an equally beguiling mystery. The nearest quarry that could have produced the city's rocks lies some 40 kilometres on the other side of Lake Titicaca, the second largest lake in South America. How could these multi-ton stones possibly have made their way to Tiwanaku?

There has been no shortage of explanations over the years. When the Spanish arrived, folklore of the native Aymara people attributed the presence of the stones to Viracocha, the creator god. Today, some offer 'out of this world' explanations, declaring that only aliens could have built the magnificent city. And many locals believe that giants put the stones in place.

American archaeologist Dr Alexei Vranich from the University of Pennsylvania, and sailor and adventurer Paul Harman had a very different theory as to how the city came about. Something much less otherworldly, but remarkable nonetheless, actually took place. The two believe that the stones were transported across Lake Titicaca on gigantic totora reed boats and then laboriously dragged another 10 kilometres to the city.

The film follows the two men as they set out to build a boat in this way, using only technology available to the city founders 2,000 years ago. And by doing so, answer the mystery of the stones of Tiwanaku.

PRODUCTION DETAILS: 1 x 48 minutes. An Engel Brothers Media Production.