The 1,500-year-old Pumapunku temple in western Bolivia is considered a crowning achievement of Mesoamerican architecture, yet no one knows what the original structure actually looked like.

Archaeologists have studied the site for over 150 years, but it wasn’t immediately obvious how all the broken and scattered pieces belonged together.

The surprisingly simple approach devised by Vranich is finally providing a glimpse into the structure’s original appearance.

Pumapunku, which means “door of the puma,” was a temple designed and built by the pre-Incan Tiwanaku culture, who lived and thrived in what is now western Bolivia from 500 AD to 1,000 AD.

And in fact, the Incas believed it was at Pumapunku that the world began.

Inspired, the Incas attempted to integrate the style of the Tiwanaku stonework in their own architecture, as seen in structures at the capital city of Cusco and the “lost city” of Machu Picchu.

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