The Tiwanaku museum, La Paz, Bolivia

Rem Sapozhnikov / February 2008
The Tiwanaku museum will be interesting not only to specialists in ancient Indian altiplano cultures. It should be visited just for the purpose of sinking into a mysterious and still little «decoded» world of those nations that were the first to develop the stony territories of the Andes, which were not so hospitable.

Till now the knowledge of Tiwanaku culture is rather vague and rough. For certain they say only about the fact that ancient «Tiwanakuians» could «domesticate» (cultivate) some pre-historic tubers, having finally transformed them in the present-day potato, without which our diet would have lost half of its satiation. What can we do without mealy potato?

So, the «Tiwanakuians» grew several dozens of kinds of potatoes, and one can be convinced after visiting any Indian market in Bolivia, Peru or Ecuador. They sell different kinds for boiling, frying, freezing.

The Tiwanaku museum is situated on a little street in the centre of La Paz. The museum building somehow resembles the knight's castle. You should pay to enter, and it is clear: there is not much money in the state treasury to keep numerous museums in Bolivia. In the booking office you can also buy books and brochures about the civilisation of Tiwanaku, that could hardly reveal secrets of the past, but will be very useful in the least exploration of numerous exhibits – from primeval stone implements to pretty well extant mummies that were excavated by the archaeologists from ancient tombs. I'll tell you the truth – to watch mummies which are exhibited in museums is not very ethical pastime. No matter who that citizen of Tiwanaku in the showcase might have been, he still deserves the right for respect. This is of course very interesting for specialists, so let them carry out their dactylographic and other studies in the quiet of their laboratories.

In the museum guest book I wrote like this: «Do not disturb the remains of your ancestors! They left you magnificent structures on altipano, so enjoy them, restore and preserve them!».

All the exhibits of the museum (but for the mummies) can be considered unique ones just for the fact that «wild archaeology» was in practice in Bolivia for some quite time, and the rarest evidence of the past, secretly extracted from the ground, were sold to rich foreign collectors.

Whatever came to the Tiwanaku museum was miraculously preserved! I paid attention that members of foreign colonies of La Paz help to keep the museum at decent level. For example, hall No.2 is called «Jerusalem», because it was renewed at the expense of «circulo israelita» – that's what the plate says.

Halls and exhibits of the museum:

After visiting the museum it was already easier for me to understand what was opened to the eyes at the space of the archaeological complex Tiwanaku that is located in 73 km from La Paz.

Continuation :
Sagarnaga street

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