Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cancel that

Just recieved word from Clark Erickson, that the possible scenario I mentioned earlier about water being diverted by a Basque treasure hunter into the Akapana is, "Not possible. [the source] is mixing up well documented use of river water to 'mine' the site of Huaca de la Luna on the north coast of Peru."

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Yikes, we're busy scrambling to get a presentation together for later today. I'm looking forward to presenting the Akapana and our models, but I also can't wait to sleep. Whatever feedback we get from the jurors tonight we'll incorporate into the web site, which is still under construction of course.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

More on Akapana

Modeling (this entry could also be entitled Suicide by Sketchup).

* Couldn't use AutoCAD or MAYA because I don't know how, would have taken to long to learn. Couldn't find the software.
* The Akapana not perfectly aligned anymore, but probably used to be. Attempted symmetry experiments failed.
* The Akapana didn't give us much data to work with, post-looting and hundreds of years of people messing with the site (potatoes grown on top, erosion, looting, railroad carting all the stones away, etc).
* Astronomy involved in alignment?

Problems with Sketchup:

* Kept switching squares on sides
* Wouldn't let make staircases, they kept popping for some reason. "Snap-to" feature strikes again (mentioned by other students).
* Curved surfaces were an issue. Water, statues, etc. The Akapana was not flat.
* The pool was a problem because it was irregularly shaped. Water looks abnormal. Not sure if that's a limitation of my Sketchup skills (or lack thereof).
* I attempted to do alignments with the annoyances of Sketchup playing with the squares. I had to eventually crop them because they wouldn't stay on the topographical map or stay flat.
* The map would also crash the program periodically.
* I used little squares as averages between the layers.

Monday, December 05, 2005

More pics

Despite the snow, I stopped by Alexei’s place tonight to discuss the walls of the Akapana (again), and to get more photos of the site. I’m not really happy with the pictures that are available of the site in the literature and feel like I need more primary data. Along with the pictures, I also picked up a traveler’s first-hand account of the Akapana in 1911 which mentions how the locals would hold parties at the top of the structure. Combine that with the looting and other disturbances that occurred at the site (which include farmers growing potato crops on the Akapana), and I’m realizing that the structure has really been given a beating over at least the past 500 years or so.

Tunnel pics?

I asked Dr. Alexei Vranich (Director of the Tiwanaku Archaeological Project in Bolivia) if he knew anything beyond what is being publicly reported about the first item I mentioned in my last post (the newly discovered tunnels). Turns out its too new even for Alexei to have the inside scoop, but he just called researchers in Bolivia about the tunnel, and they'll be sending up pictures soon. Nice.

Current events

Again departing from structure for a bit, I decided to do a little research on current events that link to the Akapana. I decided not to focus on the obvious stuff like the solstice ceremony on June 21 since that info is easy to find. So here’s a list of random stuff I found: 1. In early October of 2005, more tunnels were discovered beneath the Akapana, and a remote-controlled camera was sent down to investigate further. The story was picked up by both regular people via blogs, as well as via the news media. Cultural significance: Show that there is still very much a spirit of discovery and excitement surrounding the site even though it’s been investigated for hundreds of years. 2. From tourist accounts in blogs, personal home pages, and travel sites, I notice that tour guides like to point out the “mysterious” magnetic fields at the site of the Akapana (nothing more than a result of some of the rocks being andesite). Cultural significance: A demonstration of how speculation can get spread around the world about the Akapana and how crazy UFO stories get started. Also shows the need for locals to keep interest in the site alive. 3. The president of Bolivia visited Tiwanaku on August 1, 2004 to kick off a new investigation of the Akapana pyramid (a 5-year project, partially funded by the government). Cultural significance: Shows that the Akapana is a national treasure. 4. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recently named Tiwanaku a World Heritage Site partly because structures like the Akapana, “are exceptional examples of the ceremonial and public architecture and art of one of the most important manifestations of the civilizations of the Andean region.” Cultural significance: Shows that the Akapana is also an international treasure.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Akapana dedication burials

In my research on the Akapana, I have finally figured out how to integrate my interest in physical anthropology with this class project. Dedication burials! I find myself reading more about them than the architecture of the Akapana. I would rather do a presentation and project on the dedication burials of the Akapana than how I made the model. I can not seem to find strontium analysis of the bones, though. I wonder if that has been done.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Google Books

I figured out how to mess with Google Books, and long story short, I managed to download excerpts from18 books mentioning the Akapana. I thought it was particularly interesting that two of the books were contemporary works of fiction, one novel and one movie screenplay. Just goes to show how the Akapana is to some extent part of pop culture (or maybe just archeology pop culture, but still).