This “Gate of the Sun” Monolithic Stone Monument Has Baffled Experts For Centuries

The Bolivian Gate of the Sun sits amidst the ruins of the ancient town of Tiahuanaco, also known as Tiwanaku. Not much is known about the people who lived there, other than the fact that they had a distinct culture and built their civilization near Lake Titicaca. The area flourished between 14,000 B.C. and 900 A.D., although archeologists are uncertain of its exact age and size.

The Tiwanaku calendar, which some archeologists speculate is on the gate itself, apparently featured a shortened year of 290 days. Contrary to other attempts at reconstructing a new fixed calender, the sun gate calendar consists of 12 periods or months, each of which has been broken down into 24 days. The Gate of the Sun is a large stone block with carved details. It measures 13 feet by 9.8 feet, and weighs an estimated 10 tons. 

According to some ancient astronaut theorists, the gate of the sun conspiracy stems from the belief that aliens from another planet visited Earth at various points in time. They might have visited Tiahuanaco, and played a part in the creation of Gate of the Sun monument. 

  • It Once Stood Near A Seaport For The People Living In Tiahuanaco
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    It Once Stood Near A Seaport For The People Living In Tiahuanaco

    Archaeologists are able to determine where water levels were in the past by studying the striations and other markings in the soil and rocks. They used these methods when determining that Tiahuanaco, which now sits around 800 feet above sea level, was once a port city surrounded by Lake Titicaca. The lake is now a whopping 12 miles away from the site but in the past it was much larger. The Gate of the Sun is a part of this ancient port city, although no one has discovered its true purpose. 

  • No One Is Quite Sure Who Or What Is Depicted On The Gate
    Photo: rodoluca / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    No One Is Quite Sure Who Or What Is Depicted On The Gate

    At the top of the gate there is a square-shaped face carved into the stone. Below the face is a stout body with arms. The figure's hands are holding two perpendicular pieces of wood, stone, or even bones. Archaeologists aren't quite sure who this is supposed to be. It could possibly be the face of Viracocha, an Incan god. According to the stories, Viracocha was the highest of the Incan gods, as he created all of the others that they worshipped. The figure might also be a sun god of some sort, based on the striations carved into the rock around his face. They believe these might be the rays of the sun. Of course, the ancient astronaut theorists think that instead of the sun's rays, this actually a depiction of the god going through some sort of inter-dimensional gateway to another planet. The figure is also called the "Weeping God" because of the marks on his face that resemble tears. 

  • The Gate Is Made From One Giant Single Andesite Stone Block

    The remarkable thing about the Gate of the Sun is that is made from one single stone block. Archaeologists were unable to find any seams that would indicate it's made of multiple pieces put together. It does have a crack in it, though, most likely from age.

    Unlike other ancient works, such as the Pyramids in Egypt, which are made from many different stone blocks that have been pieced together, the Gate of the Sun is a single entity. Archaeologists discovered that the stone, which weighs 20,000 pounds, is made of andesite. This type of stone is volcanic and found in the Andes Mountains, hence its name. 

  • The Gate Of The Sun Might Have A Calendar On It
    Photo: PIERRE ANDRE LECLERCQ / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The Gate Of The Sun Might Have A Calendar On It

    Surrounding the figure at the top of the gate are a number of repeated patterns, each in a small square of their own. They resemble another figure, and look as if they've been stamped onto the surface. Some historians believe that these patterned figures - all 290 of them - make up a calendar. After studying it, they determined that this calendar is supposedly divided up into 12 groups of 24 days, representing time as the ancient people of Tiahuanco calculated it. It could also be a calendar from a planet elsewhere in the universe, reflecting how the aliens living on it kept track of their years. 

  • It Might Be Over 16,000 Years Old, But That Is Still Up For Debate

    According to some sources, the Gate of the Sun is over 16,000 years old. This places its creation somewhere around 14,000 B.C., around the same age as the ruins from its surrounding village, Tiahuanaco. Others believe that the gate is a mere 1,500 years old. That's quite a difference! Although carbon dating is generally used to determine the age of things on archaeological sites, the process requires the remnants of organic materials. Since stone is not an organic material - and that's generally what's left at Tiahuanco - archaeologists have to look at rock layers and other things to determine the age of the site, which isn't very accurate. 

  • The Gate Could Have Been Moved From Its Original Location At Some Point During The Past
    Photo: Dennis Jarvis / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    The Gate Could Have Been Moved From Its Original Location At Some Point During The Past

    The Gate of the Sun hasn't been moved since at least the 19th century. This is when European explorers discovered the remains of Tiahuanaco and the gate. However, back when the gate was first created, it may have been located elsewhere and moved to its present location. At 20,000 pounds, the gate would have been difficult to move, so there is presumably some important reason as to why the people of Tiahuanaco underwent this task. However, no one knows for sure why it was moved, or even where it was moved from.