L A P A Z, Bolivia, Aug. 24, 2000 -- A stone anchor and animal bones were among the artifacts scientists Wednesday said they had found beneath South America’s Lake Titicaca in what is thought to be a giant 1000-year-old temple.
After 18 days of diving below the clear waters of Titicaca, scientists said Tuesday they had discovered a 660-foot long, 160-foot wide temple, a terrace for crops, a pre-Incan road and an 2,600-foot containing wall.
“I strongly support the hypothesis that was was found by the ‘Atahuallpa 2000’ expedition are the ruins of a submerged pre-Columbian temple,” said Eduardo Pareja, a Bolivian scientist who was among those who explored the site, around 90 miles northeast of the Bolivian capital La Paz.
Filmed During 200 Dives
Pareja, who termed the discovery the greatest archeological find of the new millennium, showed Reuters the artifacts in his small office at Bolivia’s National Archeology Department. He said the animal bones—of cameloid animals such as llamas — might have been from sacrifices.
“This material is very valuable because it contains information that can help uncover some of the great mysteries of South American cultures,” he said.
The expedition “Atahuallpa 2000,” backed by the international scientific group Akakor Geographical Exploring, made over 200 dives into water 65 to 100 feet deep to record the remains on film and with photographs.
The expedition will publish complete findings of its study in November and plans to eventually raise more archeological remains to the surface.
Predates the Incan Empire
Lake Titicaca, some 12,464 feet above sea level, lies on the border between Bolivia and Peru, and is the highest navigable lake in the world. The indigenous peoples who first inhabited the area called Titicaca their “holy lake.”
The Tihuanacu people lived on its shores before they became part of the Incan empire with its base in Cusco, Peru. Spaniards arrived in the 16th century to change the region forever.
The submerged ruins were found in an area of the lake between the town of Copacabana and the popular tourist destinations of the Island of the Sun and Island of the Moon.
The research involved 10 scientists from Italy, 10 from Brazil, five Bolivians, two Germans and a Romanian.