Sumerians in Tiahuanaco?

The Mystery of the Pokotia Monolith and the Magna Fuente Bowl

Whether or not the so-called new world was visited by travelers from the old world before Columbus, has been a heated controversy for over a century. From Thor Heyerdahl to Barry Fell, from Percy Fawcett to Zecharia Sitchin, many alternative scholars have argued that explorers from Europe, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere were here long before the time maintained by conventional academia. There has certainly been no shortage of tantalizing evidence, especially in the form of mysterious inscriptions discovered in many unexpected quarters. The late Harvard scholar, Barry Fell, in his paradigm busting work America B.C. reported what he believed to be writings in many languages, especially Celtic Ogam, which he had found in almost every quarter of North America. Now a new chapter in the story may be unfolding. Inexplicably, Ancient Sumerian writing has apparently turned up in Peru. Explorer David Childress has brought back this report for Atlantis Rising readers—Editor.

On a recent expedition to South America, as we left Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley behind, we were headed toward Puno, Peru, and prepared to cross Lake Titicaca into Bolivia. Our guide across the lake told us a couple of very interesting stories. Over lunch on the Island of the Sun (from which Manco Capac emerged to found the Inca civilization), he revealed that a German-Italian scuba diving expedition named Team Akakor had discovered stone walls and a “gold monolith” at a depth of about 80 feet on the northern side of the island.

This report seemed fantastic enough, but our guide also told us of two amazing artifacts we could view for ourselves in La Paz. The Pokotia Monolith and the Magna Fuente Bowl had both been found near Tiahuanaco, and both artifacts had Sumerian letters engraved on them. They were, he said, now on display at the Museum of Precious Metals (also known as the Gold Museum).

Our team found the museum on Calle Jaen in the old colonial section of La Paz. Armed guards at the entrance warned us that no photography was permitted in the museum.

The guards stood near the Pokotia Monolith, and, alas, photography of the object was out of the question. However, inside the museum was the Magna Fuente Bowl, and I was able to take a few photos of that bowl inside its glass case without being spotted by the guards. Cuneiform writing could clearly be seen on the inside rim of the bowl as well as other writing.

According to Wikipedia, one of the few Internet sites with information on the two unusual objects, the Pokotia Monolith is “a stone statue excavated from the pre-Incan site of Pokotia, six km from Tiahuanaco in Bolivia. In December 2001 inscriptions and patterns on the front and back of the statue were photographed by a team led by the Bolivian archaelogist Bernardo Biados.

“Photos of the statue show a worn male figure standing upright with his arms at his sides. It appears to be partly clothed, with a loincloth-like garment, armbands and possibly a circlet or headdress. The face is almost entirely eroded away. There are rib-like lines on the chest. The statue is broken at the feet and at the neck. The symbols are found on the front of the legs, below the hands and on the right and left thighs. More are found back of the statue.” (

The Fuente Magna Bowl is made of earthen-brown fired ceramic which is beautifully engraved both inside and out with anthropomorphic characters, zoological motifs, and several scripts, including what is obviously cuneiform. The script apparently comes from 3500 to 3000 BC, the Sumerian/Akkadian period. The Magna Fuente Bowl is now called the “Rosetta Stone of the Americas” because the two languages on the bowl are apparently Sumerian and the local Aymara language; the two appear to be related, with the local dialect apparently derived from Sumerian. The bowl is said to have been found in the 1950s by a worker doing digs in the vicinity of Tiahuanaco.

The Fuente Magna Bowl was discovered on the property of the Manjon family, located somewhere between Tiahuanaco and Lake Titicaca. The area had not been subject to any archaeological investigation up to that time, and probably very little since. Around 1959 the Bolivian archaeologist, don Max Portugal-Zamora, learned of the existence of the bowl from a local priest named Pastor Manjon. They named the site Fuente Magna (great fountain).

Through the mediation and negotiation of General Armando Escobar Uria, the property was swapped for another parcel in the neighborhood of Sopocachi. Now safely under the protection of the honorable, municipal mayoralty, Mr. Portugal-Zamora began to restore the bowl by applying cement to the parts that showed chipping and deterioration. He apparently did not recognize the cuneiform script on the bowl and thought it some kind of unique indigenous writing, something akin to the Rongo Rongo writing of Easter Island. For unknown reasons, the bowl remained an obscure arti­fact, and, while it seems to have been in La Paz for many decades, it wasn’t until 2002 that it resurfaced. This was the year that the Pokotia Monolith was being studied, and the writing on its side rekindled interest in the bowl. Both were put in the newly formed Museum of Precious Metals some time around 2007.

Archaeologists in Bolivia seemed to have no doubts as to the authenticity of both objects, and so the race was on to decipher the scripts. Dr. Alberto Marini translated the script on the Fuente Magna Bowl and reported that it was Sumerian. Then, ancient language expert Dr. Clyde A. Winters determined that the writing on the Fuente Magna Bowl was probably Proto-Sumerian, which is a script found on many artifacts from Mesopotamia. Winters said that an identical script was used by the Elamites, called Proto-Elamite.

Dr. Winters said he compared the writing to the Libyco-Berber writing used in the Sahara 5,000 years ago. He claimed that this writing was used by the Proto-Dravidians (of the Indus Valley), Proto-Mande, Proto-Elamites, and Proto-Sumerians.

As noted, he found that the Fuente Magna inscriptions are in the Proto-Sumerian script, and the symbols have several Proto-Sumerian signs joined together to represent words and sentences. Below is Winters’ transliteration of the inscriptions on the right side of the Fuente Magna, reading from top to bottom and right to left: 1. Pa ge gi; 2. Mi lu du; 3. I mi ki; 4. me su du; 5. Nia po; 6. Pa, 7. Mash; 8. Nia mi; 9. Du lu gi; 10 . Ka me lu; 11 . Zi; 12 . Nan na pa-I

Winters then gave the following translation: “(1) Girls take an oath to act justly (this) place. (2) (This is) a favorable oracle of the people. (3) Send forth a just divine decree. (4) The charm (the Fuente Magna) (is) full of Good. (5) The (Goddess) Nia is pure. (6) Take an oath (to her). (7) The Diviner. (8) The divine decree of Nia (is), (9) to surround the people with Goodness/Gladness. (10) Value the peo­ple’s oracle. (11) The soul (to), (12) appear as a witness to the (Good that comes from faith in the Goddess Nia before) all mankind.”

The transliteration of the inscriptions on the left side of the Fuente Magna is as follows: 1. Tu ki a mash pa; 2a . Lu me lu ki mi; 2b. Pa be ge; 3. Zi; 4. lu na; 5 . ge; 6. du po; 7. I tu po; 8. lu mi du

This section was translated by Winters as:

“(1) Make a libation (this) place for water (seminal fluid?) and seek virtue. (2a) (This is) a great amulet/charm, (2b) (this) place of the people is a phenomenal area of the deity (Nia’s) power. (3) The soul (or breath of life). (4) Much incense, (5) to justly, (6) make the pure libation. (7) Capture the pure libation (or Appear (here) as a witness to the pure libation). (8) Divine good in this phenomenal proximity of the deity’s power.”

Winters says that the decipherment of the inscriptions on the Fuente Magna Bowl indicates that it was used to make libations to the Goddess Nia to request fertility. Plus, it was to offer thanks for the bountiful fauna and flora in the area that made it possible for these Sumerian explorers to support themselves in Bolivia.

Winters then turned his attention to the Pokotia Monolith. He says that the signs used to write the messages on the Pokotia monolith were non-liguture, Proto-Sumerian symbols. He deciphers the inscription under the hand on the Pokotia figure as: “The oracle Putaki conducts man to truth. (This) esteemed (and) precious oracle to sprout esteem, (now) witness (its) escape.”

Winters’ decipherment of the Proto-Sumerian inscription on the back of the statue is: “Proclaim the establishment of character. The strong father (Putaki) to send forth the divination. Strong wisdom (in this) phenomenal area of the deity’s power. Capture the speech (of the oracle). (The oracle is) very strong to benefit (and) nourish the sprouting (of) character. Tell human being(s) (the oracle’s) benefit. The oracle to open (up) much (benefit for all). The ideal norm (is the) oracle (of Putaki). (This) oracle is (in) a phenomenal area of the deity’s power. Distribute to all humanity (the divine decree). Snare a portion (of the) pure voice. (The oracle to) send forth gladness. Agitate the mouth (of the oracle), to send forth the divination. The diviner speaks good.”

Winters comments, “The writing on the Pokotia Monument makes it clear that the Pokotia oracle was heard by many people in ancient Bolivia. This is interesting because the Pachacamac oracle was very popular in this area in historic times. …satellite shrines of one or another of his offspring were worshipped by South Americans. During Inca (Sumerian: En-ka—Enki—“Great Lord”) times, the temple city of Pachacamac, contained the idol of Pachacamac which was a commanding oracle drawing devotees from Ecuador in the North through Bolivia in the South. People came from far and wide for a Pachacamac prophecy.” (

As we drove to Tiahuanaco the next day, I wondered if this discovery and decipherment would change the prevailing archaeological attitudes in the Americas, or if mainstream archaeologists—the experts—would just ignore this evidence of transoceanic interaction as they have done on numerous other occasions. Perhaps this bowl and statue could not be conveniently destroyed or hidden, but they have been relegated to a fairly obscure museum and summarily ignored for the past eight years.

At the end of a long day at the ruins of Tiahuanaco and Puma Punku, our WEX group boarded the bus for the trip back to La Paz. Erich told us more details about the discovery of the Pokotia Monolith. As it happens, it was found just west of Tiahuanaco in a hill that was visible from the road. It looked a great deal like a pyramid, at the base of the mountains in the distance.

We decided to drive down the dirt road to the pyramid, but Erich warned us that the villagers did not like visitors— apparently the pyramid was their private site. As we neared the grassy, earthen hill, we saw that the southern side had been excavated, and a huge gash in the gigantic structure was visible.



  • Kirk says:

    Wow thank you so much for sharing this i just bought your magazine a few weeks ago and i have been telling everyone i know about this amazing discovery!!! keep up the great work cheerz. kirk

  • charlesfrith says:

    Excellent article though just one small point I’m confused on. Did the Pokotia monolith and the Fuenta Magna bowl turn up in Peru as the first paragraph states or Tiahuanac in Bolivia as a later paragraph states? Maybe I’ve got this the wrong way round or the proximity is so close it doesn’t matter?

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