It is located near Lake Titicaca at about 12,549.2 ft (3,825.0 m) above sea level near La Paz, Bolivia. The object is approximately 9.8 ft (3.0 m) tall and 13 ft (4.0 m) wide, and is constructed from a single piece of stone. The weight is estimated to be 10 tons. When rediscovered by European explorers in the mid-19th century, the megalith was lying horizontally and had a large crack through it. It presently stands in the location where it was found, although it is believed that this is not its original site, which remains uncertain.
Some elements of Tiwanaku iconography spread throughout Peru and parts of Bolivia. Although there have been various modern interpretations of the mysterious inscriptions found on the object, the carvings that decorate the gate are believed to possess astronomical and/or astrological significance and may have served a calendrical purpose.
The lintel is carved with 48 squares surrounding a central figure. Each square represents a character in the form of winged effigy. There are 32 effigies with human faces and 16 with condors' heads. All look to the central motif: the figure of a man with his head surrounded by 24 linear rays, which may represent rays of the sun. The styled staffs held by the figure apparently symbolize thunder and lightning. Some historians and archaeologists believe that the central figure represents the "Sun God" and others have linked it with the Inca god Viracocha.
Depiction by Ephraim Squier in 1877. The scale is exaggerated in this drawing.
Media related to Gate of the Sun at Wikimedia Commons
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