If there is one positive outcome to the Ancient Alien series on the History Channel for the past few years, it is that millions have been treated to excellent high-definition photography of very obscure sites around the world and have been amazed at the accomplishments of ancient civilizations. While the series is heavily biased towards the belief that ancient aliens were responsible, either by creating these wonders themselves or by directing and guiding indigenous people, that fact should not dissuade viewers from appreciating the high production value and variety of subject matter.
A more conservative approach might lead one to posit that ancient cultures developed the knowledge and means to shape their environment without extraterrestrial supervision. It is now well established that there have been immense catastrophes in our distant past. The signs of upheaval are unmistakable! To witness the immense damage that has been done, all one need do is visit these ancient sites. While in Egypt one can find multitudes of immense toppled statues and obelisks; in South America there are entire cities buried under mounds of volcanic ash. In Tiwanaku in Bolivia, once carefully positioned, precisely cut, gigantic andesite blocks are revealed perched at odd angles on pillars of hardened mud.
With this article, I hope to present some information filmed by Prometheus Entertainment (the production company behind Ancient Aliens) that did not make it into the final cut, along with other information that was not provided to them because it was deemed not relevant at the time. Hopefully, after viewing other treatments of the topic, readers who have been led to erroneous conclusions will recognize what is factual and what is not.
My own studies of ancient technologies began in 1977. My first article on the subject appeared in ANALOG Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine in August 1984. With dozens of magazine articles, many in Atlantis Rising, and two books published on the subject, as well as innumerable discussions on Internet message boards, I have learned not to make assumptions based on mere photographs. However, the combination of on-site physical examination and photography (especially with the latest hi-res technology) can be powerful tools for gathering and analyzing data from ancient artifacts.
Over the years, I have been sent photographs of artifacts found out in the fields of Egypt, in a museum in Mexico City, or stuck in the mud of the high plains of Bolivia. Usually, I am asked if I think the artifact has been machined. Without actually physically measuring the artifact, my response has always been that I don’t have enough information about it to draw a conclusion.
I gave this same answer to David Hatcher Childress when he expressed interest to me in the origins of sites in Peru and Bolivia. Believing that they were constructed by a highly advanced ancient culture, David was looking for hard evidence to support that view. To be able to state unequivocally that they were machined would be validation enough. In 2005, we traveled to Peru and Bolivia together to examine and measure the artifacts to see whether such a claim could be substantiated.
Traveling through the Andes can be an arduous task, especially if you are carrying a heavy backpack with an assortment of steel tools for measuring whatever unique geometric artifact you might run across. One has not only to contend with the elevation, which means a reduced supply of oxygen, but the hundreds of steps needed to be climbed to access sites such as Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Macchu Picchu. All of this, though, would be worth the effort, if for nothing else, for the magnificent and inspiring views along the way.
What I discovered in Peru was that while some sites contained blocks of igneous rock, which were precisely cut, such as ultra-flat surfaces similar to the artifacts I examined in Egypt, I was not able to conclusively argue that they were made by machines. The great walls at Sacsayhuaman are an enigma, not just because of the size of the blocks, some weighing in excess of 100 tons, but the precision of the fit between the blocks is quite remarkable, considering the seeming lack of geometric regimen. There is no apparent manufacturing consistency that would prove conclusively that they were the result of machining.
On this trip, I carried tools that would be found in many a tool & die maker’s kit; a straight-edge, square, a pair of calipers, an Interapid indicator, and a surface gage. All were capable of measuring within .0002 to .0005 inch. We left Peru with most of the tools unused and traveled higher in the Andes to Lake Titicaca and eventually to La Paz in Bolivia. Feeling that most of my tools would not be necessary based on what I saw in Peru, I left them in my suitcase in La Paz and carried just my square and straight edge.
Most attention in this area has been focused on Tiwanaku, considered the capital of the most important pre-Inca Andean civilizations. Using archaeo-astronomical dating popularized by Arthur Posnasky in 1945, the site has been dated to be 15,000 years old, but modern scholars dismiss this date and have dated it much later—to from around AD 300 to AD 1000. The more ancient date still survives with some researchers, who link the site with other megalithic sites that are theorized to have existed before a world cataclysm. I tend to lean more towards the earlier date because of the huge gap between the technology available to later cultures and the tools that would have been necessary to manufacture artifacts that I have studied. At Tiwanaku, however, I again witnessed very regular building blocks with flat surfaces, and questioned why a younger culture with primitive tools would even go to such trouble, but again had to disappoint David by not stating conclusively that they must have been machined. I was looking for more evidence to support that claim.
After thoroughly exploring Tiwanaku, however, a remarkable turn of events transpired when we took in a less impressive site (as seen from the road), called “Puma Punku.” Few people visited this site and on this day nobody was there until we arrived. On entering the place, my jaw dropped as I encountered a block of andesite with flat surfaces and near one edge a groove precisely cut along its length with small holes drilled at intervals along the length of the groove. All I could think about at this time was getting in a taxi and going back to La Paz to pick up the rest of my tools. I looked around me at the jumble of blocks with precise flat surfaces, unique geometric designs, and some perfectly square corners with others not so square. Just the appearance of the blocks looked to me like they had been machined. But I had to take measurements.
I paid for a driver to take me back to La Paz and retrieved the rest of the tools from my suitcase, returning late at night but prepared for gathering more information the next day. I was assisted by Dr. Brenda Franey who photographically recorded the measurement of the salient features of the block. The most remarkable features, to me, were grooves and holes cut along the length of it. Other features such as the flatness of the surfaces and squareness of the corners would contribute to the overall determination, but this was a quick inspection with a square and straight edge. The surfaces were flat within the limits of my .0001-inch precise straight edge and eye, but the corners on this piece were not square. As we will discover later in the article, the angles between surfaces are not accidental and have a unique purpose, so not perfect 90-degree square corners have significance with respect to the methods employed in their creation.
My focus on this day was to determine if there was any data I could gather that would confirm my visual observations, which indicated that the groove cut along the length of the block was precise enough to confirm that mechanical means other than free-hand tool work assisted the ancient craftsmen in creating these features. This was accomplished by measuring the
distance between the nearest corner of the block to the edge of the groove. I should state here that this was by no means the most ideal conditions or methods for checking these features, nor is it an exhaustive study of this piece. But using precise Starrett dial calipers, with inside and outside knife edge contacts, I was employing a more precise inspection instrument than what academics credit any ancient culture with having.
What I discovered is that the distance between the edge of the groove and the edge of the block varies only .011 inch over a length of approximately 30 inches, which gives us a mean dimension of 2.6105 inches and an accuracy of .0044 inch/foot. Discovering this manufacturing precision high in the Andes, which was produced by any pre-Columbian civilizations cannot be explained in the archaeological record. It is an Out Of Place ARTifact, commonly known as an OOPART.
The distance between the holes, however, indicates that maintaining consistency between them was not as important as maintaining accuracy in the groove; though another explanation could be that the block was machined before being shipped to the site and the holes added later. Many blocks have these small holes, and it is surmised that gold was attached to the blocks, which poured into the holes. That seems logical on the surface, but these blocks are similar to lava stone and are riddled with gas pockets as the material bubbled up out of a volcano. Pouring gold onto the surface would fill these pockets and consume more of the precious metal than necessary. More likely, if the blocks were clad in metal, they were first positioned and then holes were drilled through the metal, into the stone and then secured in place with pins that swelled after repeated hammering. That no precious metal is found is not surprising considering the history of plunder of gold by invaders that came later.
This artifact is an important piece. Taking the measurements took time, and other interesting artifacts in the area were observed, but not examined as thoroughly. Several of these have become well known after the Ancient Alien episode; they are known as the H blocks. As time was short, I had to leave the area, but the H blocks interested me; and I was determined that if I had the opportunity to return to Puma Punku, I would bring other inspection instruments with me to see if they were made with precise manufacturing consistency.
There has been a great deal of misleading information published about the H blocks. Some theorize that they were architectural elements that proliferated throughout a great wall; though, based on the number that exist on site, around eight of them, there aren’t enough to build a wall on a small house. Because of the geometric similarities, though, it has been proposed that they were part of an interlocking system where a protruding feature fitted into a cavity. The cavities have also been illustrated as being square to the front surface, therefore parallel to each other. When the opportunity came again to visit this site in 2011, again with David Hatcher Childress and a tour group, I took inside micrometers and 12-inch vernier calipers with me to take more measurements. I took the inside micrometers to measure the distance between the inside surfaces of the cavities, in order to determine if they were precisely parallel to each other, and also to compare the dimensions of several H blocks to see if there was manufacturing consistency between them. I was extremely surprised at what I discovered.
The night before heading to Puma Punku, the group gathered in the hotel room and I demonstrated the use of the inspection equipment. With my surface gage and dial indicator, I swept the surface of a round glass tabletop. It indicated a flatness that was within .007 inch. The following day, I was accompanied by Mr. Jay Wakefield who observed me check the flatness on the surface of one of the blocks at Puma Punku. After observing my readings, he wanted to perform the check himself. We both noted that sweeping the indicator around a radius of approximately 8 inches, it was flat within .0005 inch around 360 degrees. Again, the conditions were not ideal for highly precise measuring and a more stringent method inside an inspection lab may yield different results. (Please note, though, that it was the same method used on a modern tabletop created in a controlled manufacturing environment.)
We then moved on to examine the H blocks. Using the verniers, a rudimentary check of four of the H blocks indicated that the cavities were different sizes. Moreover, there was no consistency in the external features and I couldn’t find a match where one block would precisely interlock with another. But putting the inside micrometers to use, my mind was entirely turned around. Not only were the cavities different sizes, but the inside surfaces were not parallel. Towards the back of the cavity, the dimensions got larger. The opening was a dovetail shape. Nevertheless, I proceeded to take measures of four of the cavities and recorded the results.
With these data, several pet theories are dispelled. The devil is always in the details and, sometimes, the devil can be very troublesome. What to make of this? Geologists, Robert Schoch for one, have already dismissed the theory that the blocks were originally liquid and poured in molds, because they identify the rock as natural stone. Now we have more information that dispels that theory, because the negative draft angles of the cavities would not allow a release of the block from the mold – unless we were to argue that the mold was multipart, precision crafted with sliding members, or was able to be broken out after casting.
The other theory that some researchers take more seriously is that the blocks were somehow crafted using light—either by laser or dish-focused sunlight. There is only one word to describe such notions—impossible. There is more to this argument than space and time permit, but suffice it to say that there is no evidence to support it and a mountain of evidence that argues against it.
Because of other evidence in the area, the features on the H blocks do not entirely dispel the theory of machining; however, it doesn’t add much to it either. So we are left still wondering what tools were used by these extremely gifted engineers and craftsmen, for even the world’s foremost authority on Andean architecture and building, Jean Pierre Protzen, admits that the tools found in the archaeological record are not capable of this work.
This article is only an overview of my research in the area. There is much more to discuss about this site, and more data needs to be gathered. One can dispute my measurements and go gather their own. I am confident that such efforts will add wealth to the body of information that is available on the subject. Indeed there is much more study to be done at Puma Punku.
As I ruminated on my findings, my mind began to focus more on what these H blocks were used for. What was the reason behind the dovetails and the other odd angles present in other features? Waking up at 3:00 a.m. in La Paz, I was inspired to follow a line of inquiry that led me to create a 1/8th model of an H block and present a new idea to the Ancient Alien crew at Danville Metal Stamping where I worked. To present this idea, though, I needed to make a few other items that fit into the dovetail cavities. When assembled, my model served as a very effective door hinge. In fact, Puma Punku means “Gate of the Puma.” Considering the size of these hinges, it must have been a massive and very heavy door or gate. With the H blocks installed in the doorway, the design and assembly of the blocks would allow for repairs, for as a weight moves in a bearing that is removed from the weight’s center of gravity, there is wear on the shaft and the bore in which it turns. The idea that these are Hinge Blocks also explains the reason why there are so few of them. Not enough to build a wall but enough to create two large pairs of gates of the Puma (male and female?).
The engineers at Puma Punku continue to amaze.
I want to thank David Hatcher Childress, Danville Metal Stamping, Jay Wakefield and others who have brought more attention to an obscure but remarkable site that is Puma Punku.