Pumapunku how did they do it?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Believe, Apr 15, 2012.

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  1. Believe

    Believe Happy medium

    And don't say aliens dammit. I put this up here and not in the psuedo section for a reason. Is anyone here a stone mason or anything that may be able to shed some practical light on how they could have done it back then?

    If your not familliar here is the wiki:


    See those little groves and little holes in the groves on the right hand side near the edge of the block in the first pic on the right, or the long straight grove on the left hand side of the block on the first pic on the left? That's really what my question is referring too. The article makes no real guesses as to how this stuff was done. The blocks being the same size, shape, and straight edged could be done with lots of time and slow paced grinding, but I cannot think of anyway way besides some kind of drill to make the groves or the holes in the groves that straight and with such a sharp edge(though I have heard that the pictures make the edges look a little nicer then they are if you look at them up close).
  2. Crunchy Cat

    Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!!

    Nobody knows. What can be said from looking at the results of their work is that they developed tools, understood math, and used them both.
  3. Believe

    Believe Happy medium

    That's a terrible answer, guess dam you!!! :p
  4. Crunchy Cat

    Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!!

    Without knowledge of what kind of architecture technology and level of mathematics they had, the best I could offer is wild speculation that would have zero reference to actual reality.
  5. Believe

    Believe Happy medium

    It was a joke. What you talking about is why I orignally asked for stone masons and the like.
  6. Crunchy Cat

    Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!!

    Wouldn't anthropologists know better? I wouldn't expect a modern day carpenter to know anything about 7th century carpentry.
  7. Believe

    Believe Happy medium

    Possible, but don't you think someone who works with the materials every day may be able to think of something within reason? Both are good canidates.
  8. wynn

    wynn ˙

    Perhaps they were simply willing and able to exert the kind of effort to everyday simple things (like building blocks) that later on or in general, people are willing to exert only on art.

    Most people nowadays in the Western world have little or no experience of what human hands and the human mind can do with very simple tools and materials, because most people nowadays do not train in developing and perfecting a fine handcraft, like traditional fine embroidery or playing a musical instrument.

    But developing some expertise in these skills puts things into perspective, and so the achievements of people from centuries ago don't seem so extraordinary anymore.
  9. Crunchy Cat

    Crunchy Cat F-in' *meow* baby!!!

    I suspect today's tools differ drastically from the Pumapunky tools so anything that "feels" reasonable to a modern stone mason would likely be very incorrect.

    Anthropologists of course could give an accurate answer only if information was available, which at present doesn't appear to be the case.
  10. Stoniphi

    Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous

    Red sandstone is relatively soft (for stone) and can be worked abrasively. Other, harder stone materials such as feldspar, nephrite jade, garnet, beryls and quartz are readily available in that area.

    Many native peoples utilized a miniature bow (as in bow and arrow weapons) with a loose 'draw string', a separate straight stick, a socketed head stone (with a small hemispherical cavity on one side) a hemispherical cavity in a block of wood placed on the ground with a bit of kindling in it to start fires. Any Boy or Girl Scout knows about this tool and can use one to light a fire.

    If one takes the straight stick that is rotated to produce the friction that starts the fire, splits one end, inserts a sharp piece of quartz into the split, ties twine around it to squeeze the wood tight onto the stone, then covers the twine with tree resin or tar, the stick becomes a drill bit when rotated in the apparatus.

    To drill holes through harder materials like jade, the drilling end of the straight stick is left flat, garnet or sapphire sand is placed under the bottom end of the stick, a bit of water is applied to the meet surface then the stick is rotated like a drill bit, pressing the hard sand into the work - piece. The accuracy of the holes is entirely dependent on the skill of the artisan.

    Top notch solid geometry has been around for a very long time, even in South America, so has very sophisticated stone working. Measuring devices are not complicated to make and use to assure accuracy to within 1/10 of a millimeter or better. A decent artisan can eyeball accuracy better than 1/10 millimeter, contemporary workers and graders in the gem and jewelery industry do that every day and we all know that "practice makes perfect".

    The only photo I could find quickly is this one of a hand - powered fire starting drill. The straight stick is moved by holding it between the 2 hands and rolling it back and forth until the kindling temperature (451 F) is reached and the kindle ignites.


    A longer straight stick can be split up the side and multiple pieces of stone inserted in the breach in a straight line. They are then adhered in place with melted tree sap or tar. This tool can then be employed as a saw or a scraper, depending on the direction the artisan moves it. "Cross hatching" (sets of orthogonal scrapings) with the tool as a scraper assures a large flat surface. (This is termed "hand lapping") It can also be used as an axe, either for cutting down trees and working wood or for cutting down enemies and making war.

    A straight line can be laid out on a large block of stone with a chalk line - just a piece of string that is covered with powdered chalk or charcoal, held at both ends, then snapped onto the stone by lifting the string against tension on both ends and releasing it to transfer the powdered material onto the rock. Hand tools do the rest.

    The stone 'blanks' (rough rock pieces of approximate correct size that have not yet been worked but have been taken from the quarry wall) can be removed from the rock face by fire heating an area then quenching it with water to open up small cracks ("spalls") in the stone, Wooden wedges are then hammered into selected spalls and they are opened up into fissures. Stone hammers are used to shape and clean the rough blanks into close approximation of the desired finished workpiece.

    The whole process is extremely labour - intensive, but it has been done by many people in many countries around our world through the centuries. The technology is neither complex or recent, and did not involve aliens or magic beyond the skill and perseverance of the artisans and the support of their cultures.
  11. Stoniphi

    Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous

  12. Dinosaur

    Dinosaur Rational Skeptic

    Those used to modern technology & modern social structures have difficulty visualizing what can be done by slaves.

    If it took ten hours per day for months to make one of those holes, a slave could be forced to spend the time. It might be impossible to determine what tools/methods were used.

    It should be possible to experiment with primitive tools/methods & decide how long it would take for a particular imagined tool/method combination. Such an experiment would likely indicate that no high tech tools/methods were required.
  13. Buddha12

    Buddha12 Valued Senior Member


    Drill points were used to make holes in both wood and stone, and, during the early period, for making one-piece bone fish hooks. They were made from various materials, particularly chert, but also obsidian and some of the same rock types used for adzes.
  14. Aqueous Id

    Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic

    I think you may be on the wrong track if you think that cutting holes in stone is an unusual technology for these people. Some of the material is sandstone, which can be cut and shaped with metal tools and with tools having heads made of harder grades of stone. A second material they used is andesite which is vitreous so it will so it can be chipped and cracked by tools such as the hammer and chisel. They also left stone carvings of human, natural and possibly religious figures. Stonework was one of several technologies they had. They cut and moved massive amounts of material as seen in other monumental sites around the world.

    There are several way to join stone. We are more familiar with mortar, which today is made with Portland cement, a Roman invention. The Tiwanaku people who built Puma Punku evidently poured molten metal into shaped holes forming cast-in-place fasteners.

    You refer to the photo of a shaped stone with a groove leaving a round hole. This is not difficult to do with simple tools like the chisel, gouge and rasp. What is more interesting is the purpose of the groove. This piece illustrates another example of how they solved the problem of lifting and setting the stones in place. Apparently a rope was placed through the hole, and as the stone was lowered and set, the groove kept the rope from taking up space inside the joint. Whether or not this piece was used that way, other structural blocks at the site were evidently done that way. It looks like they cut the rope after setting the stone, and dug some of it out, leaving a sprue line (a channel) for pouring molten metal. Any rope fiber left inside would disintegrate in the casting, and since the sprue feeds the hole or holes it forms an internally cast bolt with a sturdy pin embedded inside the stone. This solves the problem of having to drill and insert a bolt or anchor, the problem of needing hardened steel, a bolt head and a wrench, etc., plus it leaves a flush finish that creates no obstruction to the next joint to be laid, and it creates a smoother more impenetrable stone surface. Contrast this with the way stone veneer is held to modern buildings. Also note, pouring molten metal in the hole is a fast way to join the blocks that cures immediately and allows for rapid construction. This helps keep the structure from collapsing under construction or to stablilize long spans without the need for sidewall buttressing. It is hard to take apart, making the structure more secure, even impervious to rot and perhaps earthquakes (as with stones joined by wooden pegs). The embedded cast anchors prevented the stones from slipping or toppling, perhaps developed in response to the effect of earthquakes on unfastened stones.

    The other notched square holes look like they would serve two purposes if used in construction. Note that a round hole can accept a round wooden dowel or metal rod which is free to rotate in the hole. A squared hole solves twist, if for some reason that is a problem. But the notch is a way to "key" the square hole, so that whatever is inserted can only be done in one orientation, if for some reason that was necessary. The keyed hole also allows insertion of an interlocking fastener, clip or hanger, possibly to attach an external structure (such as a fixture) to a stone wall. Again, assembly is fast, just insert and it locks into place.You could apply exterior ornamentation this way, and solve other architectural problems. The Wikipedia author states these are "eye holes". Maybe so. They may also have served another purpose, such as placing bars across an open window to prevent intruders, including animals. A square metal bar can be slid into place across a pair of such stones that form opposite sides of the window casing, and a small amount of molten metal can be fed into the notch to secure the bar from being pried or slid out of place. Also, a square bar can be anchored by a wedge that is hammered into the notch. Or, if the bars and wedges are attached to separate movable frames, then you get a very sturdy interlocking door, like you may have seen in a bank vault. This could be done with cast metal pieces. It would seem hard for intruders to defeat. This site was heavily damaged by pre-Columbian treasure seekers, so it may have had an ancient reputation as a treasury. Vault door technology would enable them to guard the kind of treasure could lead to that sort of legend. Even food could be locked and stored to allow for rationing during winter or driought, while the building withstands an attack from an angry starving mob. The cast anchors between stones may have protected the inhabitants against an outside assault in which the wall is merely disassembled stone by stone.

    The article also mentions that the keyed holes are irregular. Notice, you could intentionally make irregular shapes, and anyone who holds the ingot cast from a particular hole becomes a keyholder. This could have been used to create several keys to the same lock, or else it could be done for a symbolic purpose, such as granting the keyholder a position of authority. This could be like carrying a royal seal as sometimes mentioned in recorded history. How do you trust an emissary or friend from abroad? Their culture may have been founded on a loose federation of villages, united by some common purpose, such as religion, or a treaty in common defense against more remote invaders, or as a trade agreement between miners and farmers. A slab made in this fashion could be a way to join competing families or tribes into a council in which they maintain local autonomy, then whichever delegate is sent to the council's "summit on the mount" could prove his authority by carrying the village key.

    On the other hand, maybe these were nothing more than eye holes, set at the various heights of each family member. Regardless, this Tiwanaku site is another example of an ancient capability to build huge walls, foundations, and what seems to be a temple and pyramid. Beside casting metal for architectural purposes they also made jewelry, ceramics, textiles. In addition to quarrying and transporting huge stones, they farmed and built boats. Their fields were irrigated and had solar-heated cisterns, probably to protect crops from frost and to keep the water flowing during a freeze. They had drainage systems. They obviously had the furnaces and know-how for smelting ore and casting metal and kilns for firing clay. We just don't know their history because they apparently never developed writing. Even today some Andean people avoid the need for math and writing by recording numbers and ideas in a miniature loom of knotted strings they carry. The Tiwanaku people may have gotten by with a similar system.

    In any case these people demonstrate ingenuity, and evidently they were quite practical, even if they did decide on building their site in the seemingly unfavorable environment of the high plains of the central Andes.
  15. Believe

    Believe Happy medium

    When did I say it was unusual? Your off track in thinking that I was doing anyting but asking how it was done. I never said they counldn't, that they didn't have the tech, or anything like that. I asked HOW.
  16. Fraggle Rocker

    Fraggle Rocker Moderator

    Don't forget that this was the Bronze Age. The Wikipedia article makes it clear that these people had metal decorations and tools. Bronze is not as strong and sturdy as iron, but it still revolutionizes a civilization's technology. This is why I side with the anthropologists who call the discovery of bronze metallurgy a paradigm shift.

    (Others, led by Toffler, identify only the Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and the Electronic Age as paradigm shifts. I also include city-building, bronze metallurgy and iron metallurgy. In each case I see the human race having to make wholesale changes in the way people relate to the world around them, to other people, and even to themselves.)
  17. Believe

    Believe Happy medium

    This is a good explination except for one thing. With the precision required and shown in the blocks used for building the site would there not be many errors in their making with such tools? Should the area not be littered with failed blocks? It may very well be but no one mentions this in anything I have gotten my hands on. :shrug: (Again I really don't know here so correct me please)

    Also, the ancient aliens program claims that these blocks are made of diorite. I did not mention this before as I have been unable to corroborate this piece of information with a better source(I would consider the wiki a better source then this show, but I also don't think lying so blatently would help their cause). However, if this is true would the technique above still be feasible since diorite is so tough and hard to work with? I know it has been used since ancient sumer but.... again IDK.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
  18. Stoniphi

    Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous

    To the uninitiate, diorite would indeed seem hard to work, but it is no worse than granite, which it closely resembles and often blends with. The primary component is feldspar and that works nicely if you use the right tools. The ancient Egyptians also routinely worked this type of hard stone with 'crude' tools.

    These ruins are purported to be composed of red sandstone which is a little easier to work than diorite, but not much. :eek: Either way, the stone can be and has been worked with stone points made from harder stones.

    When you work on a large workpiece, you start with a lot more stone than you end up with. In my experience, the typical loss (stone removed and discarded) is 2/3 - 3/4 of the starting mass. You approach the desired shape and as you get closer to the exact dimensions you desire you take increasing care so as not to blow it. As an example, if I want to drill a hole through a stone, I start by cutting a hemispherical cavity at the drill site. I then make a small hole right in the center of that. If the bit drifts I can force it to where it should be and complete the pilot hole. The initial cavity holds cooling water until the pilot hole breaks through the far side of the stone. Then I move to a larger bit for the final drilling. The result is a hole of the correct size exactly where I want it.

    Just because I have access to diamond plated drill bits does not mean that I could not make my own with a rough diamond crystal, a stick and some tree resin. It is just easier for me to purchase them ready made. ;) Just as I can use a Foredom Shaft machine rather than a bow drill. The technique is the same, it is just that the technology I can access now is more advanced than the technology available a few thousand years ago.

    If you are knapping arrow points, there will be many discards as the flaws are small and difficult to detect until you have worked the stone a bit. If you are working multi - ton blocks, fatal flaws are much more readily discernible to the naked eye and you just choose not to pull that piece from the quarry wall. Smaller flaws remain in the finished pieces because the stone workers determined they were not fatal flaws.

    Something that must be remembered when considering this type of construction is that a determined group of human beings can do some pretty impressive things. Unless one has focused tightly on developing the skills necessary to create in stone and learned the nature of various stones, it is very hard to imagine what one can do with the material - even with "primitive" tools. Recall though that these same cultures did some pretty precise things in other areas as well - like skull trepanning and repairing damaged/lost teeth, often to great advantage for the patient. Just because humans did this stuff a long time ago doesn't mean that they couldn't have done it. We could do this stuff the same way with the same tools if we were motivated to do so and lacked access to our modern technology. Heck - some of us do this stuff even though we can access more efficient modern technology - because it is fun to do. :)
  19. Stoniphi

    Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous

    Note: any culture that smelts metals can high fire porcelain clay which is aluminum oxide and aluminum silicate. Porcelain clay rich in aluminum oxide that is fired to a bit more than 2400 degrees F becomes very close to sapphire in hardness.

    This process gave us "Linde A" alumina, synthetic sapphire powdered abrasive and star sapphire gemstones. Sapphire is harder than any other stone excepting diamond, which is/was also used in tools.
  20. Believe

    Believe Happy medium

    So what you're saying is that the ancient aliens people can't find an explanation because they never bothered to look. Excellent! :D Thank you for the enlightenment, I thought they really might of had something with this one (lost tech maybe, probably not aliens) but it's bs mixed with half truths like everything else they say. The show is still fun to watch though ;)
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