Gold and silver pieces as well as bones and pottery from 1,500 years ago were discovered in Lake Titicaca by underwater archaeologists, a researcher said Tuesday. “We found 2,000 objects and fragments,” Christophe Delaere, the Belgian co-director of the Huinaimarca Project that unearthed the items, said at a ceremony in La Paz. President Evo Morales, Bolivia’s minister of culture and diplomats from Belgium were also in attendance.
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on October 8, 2013. (Aizar Raldes Nunez/AFP/Getty Images)
The expedition began two months ago on the Bolivian side of the lake, which is shared with Peru. Underwater explorations turned up objects from different eras, both Inca era and pre-Inca (1438-1533).
The project unearthed 31 gold fragments, mainly around the Isla del Sol, where legend holds that mythical founders of the Incan empire emerged from the lake’s waters.
Part of a discovery of pieces of gold, silver, bone and ceramics dated 1,500 years ago found on the Bolivian banks of the Titicaca lake by a group of Belgian archaeologists, in La Paz, on October 8, 2013.(Aizar Raldes Nunez/AFP/Getty Images)>
Underwater excavations were carried out in other parts of the lake where objects from different dates were found. “There are ceramics and urns from more than 500 to 800 years ago,” Delaere said. Elsewhere, 1,500-year-old objects such as stone vessels, incense containers and figures of animals like pumas were found.
Tales about the lake containing underwater citadels and wealth supposedly stashed by indigenous Quechua and Aymara people from Spanish conquistadores have existed for centuries in Bolivia.
In the late 1960s French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau conducted several expeditions in Lake Titicaca, finding signs of a civilization.
The first phase of the exploration has yielded discoveries that include thousands of gold and silver pieces as well as shards of bone and pottery dating back between 1,500 and 2,500 years. “We have found an accumulation of sediment with archaeological material from Tiwanaku, of the Incas and on top of material from the 18th and 20th centuries. We have about two thousand and two and half thousand years of history,” added Dalaere.
Bolivian President Evo Morales joined Belgian diplomats at the presentation of results. Morales said the discoveries revealed the richness of Bolivia’s pre-Hispanic roots. “These are our roots. The pieces are of great significance because they belong to the great culture of our ancestors, a millenary culture (from) more than a thousand, a thousand five hundred years ago. Imagine that after so many years they’ve discovered objects of the Tihuanacota civilisation,” he said.
Researchers said they had excavated with sediment suction pumps an area near the Isla del Sol, located on the Bolivian side of the lake. Among the findings was a silver figurine believed to be from the Inca period (600 years ago) and ceramic pieces and gold plating believed to be from the Tiwanaku period (some 2,000 years ago)