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Wendell Bennett and the Ruins of Tiwanaku

American archaeologist Wendell Bennett (August 1905–September 1953) was a professor at Yale University who specialized in the ancient cultures of Peru and Bolivia. In 1932, Bennett discovered an anthropomorphic sculpture attributed to the Tiwanaku culture in Bolivia—a civilization that thrived between A.D. 550 and 1000 and, at its peak, had a population of between 20,000 and 40,000 people in its capital.

The site of Tiwanaku is situated on an arid plain around Lake Titicaca. The site is located at an altitude of 12,600 feet, which makes it one of the highest ancient settlements in the world. The same craftsmanship featured in the construction of Pumapunku, a Tiwanaku temple, is visible in the statues that once stood in the city. Bennett unearthed the largest of these sculptures (pictured above), which is 24 feet high and was carved from a single block of red sandstone.

Text Source: Stuart, George E. Ancient Pioneers: The First Americans. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2001. National Geographic Virtual Library. Bennett, Wendell: Andean Culture History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1960.
Photograph by:
  • Wendell Clark Bennett