Bolivia invest on tourism with the treasures hidden under the waters of Lake TiticacaNovember 4, 2018
The Underwater archaeological ruins found on Lake Titicaca, shared by Bolivia and Peru, they are a vein that the Bolivian authorities want to start exploiting in that aquifer mantle, which is already one of the main tourist attractions in the country.
The Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, at an altitude of 3,800 meters in a total of more than 8,500 square kilometers, and serves as a natural border between Bolivia and Peru.
The underwater archaeological ruins found in Lake Titicaca, shared by Bolivia and Peru, are a vein that the Bolivian authorities want to start exploiting in that aquifer mantle. EFE / Courtesy Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Bolivia
Impressive landscapes in which the blue of the sky merges with the waters, gastronomy, fishing and religious tourism are part of the current offer that attracts local and foreign visitors to the Bolivian communities settled on the shores of the lake.
To this offer is expected to add a “visionary” project, in the words of the Bolivian minister of Cultures and Tourism, Wilma Alanoca, which is the first underwater museum to show the Tiahuanacotas and Inca structures found in the Titicaca.
“It’s a very ambitious project, innovative but fundamentally recovers the historical memory, the ancestral knowledge of the whole lake region here in the highlands,” said Alanoca.
It all started a decade ago, when the researcher Christophe Delaere, of the Free University of Brussels, dives in the lake and detected several submerged archaeological sites, explained the head of the Archeology Unit of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Bolivia, José Luis Paz.
Subsequently, an agreement was signed with Belgium and the “Lake Project” was created to identify and conserve the underwater archaeological heritage and the margins of the lake, in coordination with thirteen municipalities of the La Paz region, where Titicaca is located.
“We worked incessantly these last three years, a high precision sonar was brought in. This sonar swept all the banks and several abnormalities were detected,” Paz said.
In those places, excavations were carried out with special compressors “and it was confirmed that there are 24 underwater sites submerged in the lake, on the Bolivian side,” he added.
The head of the Cultural Interests and Education Section of the Argentine embassy in La Paz, Carlos Javier Daveggiose, is preparing to dive in the sector of Santiago de Ojje, on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca (Bolivia). EFE / Martín Alipaz
For the installation of the museum, Ojjelaya was selected among the 24 sites, located about five minutes from the town of Tiquina, some 108 kilometers from the city of La Paz.
The site has about three hectares and is “quite dense”, that is, “which is very well preserved and is in many ways intact,” according to Paz.
Two farmers in the sector of Santiago de Ojje, on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca (Bolivia). EFE / Martín Alipaz
“The quantity of material is exceptional, its conservation status, its size and for that and other factors, for example that it is shallow, three meters on average, it is intended to build an underwater museum on top of the archaeological site,” he said.
The remains found in Ojjelaya correspond to the Tiahuanacota civilization, date from the period of 400 to 1110 AD and are mostly domestic structures and stone foundations.
Some 10,000 archaeological pieces, including bone artifacts and cooking utensils, were also found in the site in 2017. Some of these pieces will be exhibited in the museum, which will have a structure on the shores of the lake and another submerged in the water.
The offer does not end there, since it is also planned to offer visitors the possibility of diving to see the ruins up close.
To demonstrate that you can dive in the highest navigable lake in the world, this week a first immersion was carried out in another of the sites, Santiago de Ojje, near the border with Peru, in which Archeologists and divers from the Armada participated. Bolivia
The project also includes the creation of a regional research center “to continue investigating and excavating the other 23 sites,” Paz said.
The project is in a final design stage that is expected to end in the first quarter of 2019, when it is expected to guarantee financing and start construction, with an approximate cost of about 10 million dollars.
Gina Baldivieso / EFE
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