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3D printed model of the ancient site of Puma Punku, Tiwanaku.

Advanced Ancient Architecture of Puma Punku Site is Fully Recreated With 3D Printing

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Part of the ancient archaeological site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia, believed by Incans to be where the world was created has been reconstructed using 3D printed models of fragments of an ancient building. The results are presented in a study published in the open access journal Heritage Science .

Researchers at UC Berkeley, USA, created accurate, 3D-printed miniature models of architectural fragments to reconstruct the Puma Punku building in the Tiwanaku site. Considered to be an architectural wonder of its time (AD 500-950), Puma Punku has been ransacked over the last 500 years to a point where none of the remaining 150 blocks that comprised the original building remain in their original place.

Drawing from 1848 by Leonce Angrand of the sandstone slabs. Notice the geometric outlines carved into the slabs that once held standing architecture. (Image source: Heritage Science)

Drawing from 1848 by Leonce Angrand of the sandstone slabs. Notice the geometric outlines carved into the slabs that once held standing architecture. (Image source: Heritage Science )

Dr Alexei Vranich, the corresponding author said: "A major challenge here is that the majority of the stones of Puma Punku are too large to move and that field notes from previous research by others present us with complex and cumbersome data that is difficult to visualize. The intent of our project was to translate that data into something that both our hands and our minds could grasp. Printing miniature 3D models of the stones allowed us to quickly handle and refit the blocks to try and recreate the structure.

Printed pieces on the fiberboard representing the sandstone slab foundation. (© Alexei Vranich, Heritage Science/CC BY 4.0)

Printed pieces on the fiberboard representing the sandstone slab foundation. (© Alexei Vranich, Heritage Science /CC BY 4.0 )

"It is possible that using 3D printed models of fragments could help the study of other historic sites that have fallen apart in time, such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or that have been the victim of recent destruction, such as Palmyra in Syria. "

The 3D reconstruction of Puma Punku not only shows possible configurations of what the site may have looked like, but also gives clues about the purpose of the building.

Megalithic cut stones at the Puma Punku complx, Tiwanaku. (dmitriy_rnd / Adobe Stock)

Megalithic cut stones at the Puma Punku complx, Tiwanaku. ( dmitriy_rnd / Adobe Stock)

Dr Vranich said: "One particularly interesting realization was that smashed doorways of different sizes that lay scattered around the site were aligned in a manner that would create a "mirror" effect; the impression of looking into infinity, when, in fact, the viewer was looking into a single room. This may relate to the Incans belief that this is the site where the world was created and could also suggest that the building was used as a ritual space."

Virtual reconstruction of the entire andesite building. (© Alexei Vranich, Heritage Science/CC BY 4.0)

Virtual reconstruction of the entire andesite building. (© Alexei Vranich, Heritage Science /CC BY 4.0 )

The authors printed 3D models of a total of 140 pieces of andesite and 17 slabs of sandstone based on measurements compiled by various scholars over the past century and a half of the height, length and width of the blocks found at the site of Tiwanaku. Once modelled on the computer and then made solid with a 3d printer, the authors then physically manipulated the blocks to reconstruct the site, trying out different ways in which they may fit together.

Process of creation 3D models: (1) Original field notes; (2) 3D virtual Sketchup model; (3) Translation into .stl format and checking that the model is “watertight”; (4) Printing in powder based bed: (5) Removing extra powder; (6) Applying Cyanoacrylates solution; (7) Final model. (© Alexei Vranich, Heritage Science/CC BY 4.0)

Process of creation 3D models: (1) Original field notes; (2) 3D virtual Sketchup model; (3) Translation into .stl format and checking that the model is “watertight”; (4) Printing in powder based bed: (5) Removing extra powder; (6) Applying Cyanoacrylates solution; (7) Final model. (© Alexei Vranich, Heritage Science /CC BY 4.0 )

Dr Vranich said: "This effort represents a technological step back from recent methods that used computer modelling to recreate structures on screen, but the human brain continues to be more efficient than a computer when it comes to manipulating and visualizing irregular 3D forms. We attempted to capitalize on archaeologists' learned ability to visualize and mentally rotate irregular objects in space by providing them with 3D printed objects that they could physically manipulate."

Top image: 3D printed model of the ancient site of Puma Punku, Tiwanaku.           Source: Dr Alexei Vranich, 2018

The article, originally titled ‘ 3D-printed reconstructions provide clues to ancient site, ’ was first published on Science Daily.

Source: BioMed Central. "3D-printed reconstructions provide clues to ancient site." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181212200743.htm

References

Alexei Vranich. Reconstructing ancient architecture at Tiwanaku, Bolivia: the potential and promise of 3D printing. Heritage Science , 2018; 6 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s40494-018-0231-0

Comments

I think that the construction tech behind the pieces is the key, these pieces are exceptional, their edges are still sharp, the cuts are perfect, the sizes are uniform, the materials are the hardest available. While I agree it is possible humans made them, it is also possible that other beings dropped by and whipped them up.
I believe the presenters at the August 2001 Press Conference on alien contact, the conference video is on youtube. I encourage all to listen to it.
The presenters were hoping to get a congressional hearing on their experiences and findings but 9/11 put an end to that. One fellow asked by a reporter how many alien life forms they had encountered replied, "So far, 85." We are not alone and haven't been alone for a long, long time.

Glad they can finally rebuild it.. so much is lost.. so many libraries destroyed thru out history.. so many disasters in all the history of man kind. rebuilding starting over again and again.. will we ever know everything from our past? of course not.. If more of our scholars would take myth and legend as fact as is proven over and over again as fact.. maybe we would actually get some where.. why all the denial of local myth and legends ??? they are being proven more often as not as fact.. So my stance is.. get your heads out of your arses.

jolly r hansen

Gary Moran's picture

Just because it is beyond our current technology does not mean humans could have not done it. So many ancient sites must have been built using methods and tools that have been lost to time, for instance the pyramids in Egypt. Personally, I believe there is no limit to what man can accomplish. In only about a century, we have learned to fly, have been to our moon several times, and are headed for Mars. 

Whatever we can dream, we can achieve, we only have to believe. 

I think everyone is assuming that this structure was completed. I have been there and it seems like it is set up to be built and not torn down.
If it was built then where are the missing pieces? The old theory is they were taken for new construction elsewhere. Then where are they now? Maybe there is another place with the old pieces?
I believe something happened and they stopped before it was built.
Nobody has ever considered this.
Find the missing pieces and it will answer a lot of questions.
If it was built and ended up like this then somebody went to a lot of trouble to arrange the pieces all lined up like that.

Humans did not build this place. I think it's great that these guys were able to piece this back together, but to continue to claim it was made by man is ridiculous. We can't hardly do this today with technology and equipment and yet somehow the ancients were capable of building this structure in the mountains.

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