Pumapunku is part of a large temple complex or megalithic monument group that is part of the Tiwanaku Site located near Tiwanaku, Bolivia. The site is mysterious due to the huge carved with precision stone blocks.
The largest of these stone blocks is 7.81 meters long, 5.17 meters wide, averages 1.07 meters thick, and is estimated to weigh about 131 metric tons. The second largest stone block found within the Pumapunka is 7.90 meters long, 2.50 meters wide, and averages 1.86 meters thick. Its weight has been estimated to be 85.21 metric tons. Both of these stone blocks are part of the Plataforma Lítica and composed of redsandstone.
Based upon detailed petrographic and chemical analyses of samples from both individual stones and known quarry sites, archaeologists concluded that these and other red sandstone blocks were transported up a steep incline from a quarry near Lake Titicaca roughly 10 km away. Smaller andesite blocks that were used for stone facing and carvings came from quarries within the Copacabana Peninsula about 90 km away from and across Lake Titicaca from the Pumapunka and the rest of the Tiwanaku Site.
Archaeologists argue that the transport of these stones was accomplished by the large labor force of ancient Tiwanaku. Several theories have been proposed as to how this labor force transported the stones although these theories remain speculative. Two of the more common proposals involve the use of llama skin ropes and the use of ramps and inclined planes.
In assembling the walls of Pumapunku, each stone was finely cut to interlock with the surrounding stones and the blocks fit together like a puzzle, forming load-bearing joints without the use of mortar. One common engineering technique involves cutting the top of the lower stone at a certain angle, and placing another stone on top of it which was cut at the same angle. The precision with which these angles have been utilized to create flush joints is indicative of a highly sophisticated knowledge of stone-cutting and a thorough understanding of descriptive geometry. Many of the joints are so precise that not even a razor blade will fit between the stones. Much of the masonry is characterized by accurately cut rectilinear blocks of such uniformity that they could be interchanged for one another while maintaining a level surface and even joints.
The blocks were so precisely cut as to suggest the possibility of prefabrication and mass production, technologies far in advance of the Tiwanaku’s Incan successors hundreds of years later.Tiwanaku engineers were also adept at developing a civic infrastructure at this complex, constructing functional irrigation systems, hydraulic mechanisms, and waterproof sewage lines.