Belgian underwater archaeologists have discovered a number of eye-catching artifacts in and around Lake Titicaca on expeditions from the Bolivian side of the lake.
According to Peru21, excavators have uncovered 2,000 different pieces, including ceramics, thin sheets of gold, and carved stone puma heads.
Peru21 reports that the dig took place near the Island of the Sun. According to legend, the Island of the Sun was the place where mythological first rulers of the Inca empire Manco Capac and his sister-wife Mama Ocllo rose from the lake, later travelling to Cusco to found their capital city.
Lead archaeologist Christophe Delaere told press at the pieces’ formal presentation in La Paz that the artifacts were probably ritual offerings.
“[The pieces] have incredible historical value, because they’re the first pieces of gold we’ve discovered […] There are also ceramics, urns, that are 500 to 800 years old.” The artifacts from from both the Inca and pre-Inca cultures.
RPP Noticias reports that many of the pieces were found at the site archaeologists refer to as Khoa Reef, where the Inca and Tiahuanaco cultures often left religious offerings. The area has been explored by archaeological teams on several occasions, including a 1968 expedition with famed French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
The dig is part of the Huiñaimarca archaeological project; “huiñaimarca” means “eternal nation.” The project is sponsored by Bolivia’s Ministry of Cultures and Tourism and the Université Libre de Bruxelles.