Chullpas, Sillustani, Peru

Were the Ancient Funerary Towers of Sillustani Peru Originally Part of an Energy System?

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Sillustani is a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo, about an hour’s drive from Puno in Peru, which is a large city on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpa, are the vestiges of the Colla people, Aymara speaking people who were conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. The structures housed the remains of complete family groups, although they were probably limited to nobility. Many of the tombs have been dynamited by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished.

The above is the conventional rhetoric espoused by academics, and is the information which most guides to the Sillustani site give visitors. What they generally believe is that the smaller and cruder chullpa were created first, by the Colla people between 1200 and 1400 AD and that the Inca, who conquered the Colla during the 15 th century constructed the larger and more precise ones afterwards.

Prior to the Colla, the great Tiwanku civilization, whose name sake is a prominent archaeological site just south of the shore of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, held sway to some extent in the area. The Colla, or Hatun Colla was one of many tribes that had organised themselves in communities after the Tiwanaku culture had faded. Together with the Lupaca kingdom, the Colla had control over more or less the whole region of Lake Titicaca.

Figure 1 A comparison of the two styles of chullpa

Figure 1 A comparison of the two styles of chullpa

Of course, according to conventional thought, smaller and rougher stone work should precede larger and finer ones, because it is generally believed that humanity has technically evolved over time, whether in Peru or elsewhere. Other works attributed to the Colla in the region are indeed crude in construction and appearance, and made from local field stone which has been roughly shaped and cemented together with clay as mortar.

The finer of the chullpa are presumed to be of Inca manufacture, because their form of mortar free construction is compared to such works in Cusco such as the Coricancha. However, it has not been positively proven that the Inca built the Coricancha, and in fact questions arise as to whether or not the Inca, who were a Bronze Age culture, could have achieved such fine workmanship.

The Coricancha is thought by many sources, including early Spanish chronicles to be the first building ever constructed by the Inca. However, it is also the finest of their works. So how is this possible? The answer could be that the Coricancha in fact existed in Cusco when the Inca arrived, somewhere between 1000 and 1100 AD, and was made by an unknown earlier people, sometimes referred to as the Perhuas, or Viracochans.

Though this may sound like an outrageous assumption to some readers, anyone who has walked the streets of Cusco can clearly see that the lower and thus older constructions are superior to those that came later. This suggests that the Inca were building, in many cases, on top of older, finer foundations.

Figure 2 A photo of the Coricancha

Figure 2 A photo of the Coricancha

The best of the chullpa at Sillustani look very much like the Coricancha in Cusco as regards to building methods, and materials. Some of the wall areas of the Coricancha are composed of amazingly tight-fitting andesite blocks, while others are of basalt. In both cases the stone was not local, but brought on from specific quarries several kilometers away.

It is based on the similarity of appearance alone that has caused many academics to presume that the finest of the Sillustani chullpa were made by the Inca. However, if the Coricancha is not Inca, but older, then the chullpa may be the same.

Human remains were found inside some of the chullpa by archaeologists, and others by tomb robbers. Thus, the conclusion has been drawn that the function of the chullpa was of a funerary nature. However, some engineers have looked at these structures, and find the finer ones quite perplexing.

Figure 3 A sign asserting that the function of the chullpa was for burials

Figure 3 A sign asserting that the function of the chullpa was for burials

They are not vertically straight, but in fact taper outwards from the bottom to the top, which is not a conventionally logical building approach. Also, the top area has a curve to it from the outside in. As well, each has a band around the upper area which would form what function; simply decoration?


There is ever increasing evidence that the ancients were as advanced as we are now, or maybe more so in some ways. If we ever figured out a way to look back in time like it was a TV show, I'd bet we'd find out those myths and legends really do have a kernel of truth and show a space aged populace living here.

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