Known by other names including Kon Tiki and Tunupa, he was said to have been a bearded, blue-eyed, white man of large stature.
A teacher and a healer, a miracle worker and an astronomer, Viracocha is also credited with introducing agriculture, writing, and metallurgy.
This same sort of feeling is what motivated Arthur Posnansky, a German-Bolivian scholar, to exhaustively study Tiahuanaco for almost fifty years.
Living at the ruins and intimately familiar with them, Posnansky noticed dozens of things that could not be explained by the conventional archeological theory nor slotted into its chronological framework.
Yet, something about this relatively recent dating didn’t fit with my impression of the place.
With more than thirty years of experience exploring and photographing many hundreds of archaeology ruins I have developed something of a sense for gauging the antiquity of these places, and the remains of Tiahuanaco felt very much older than just 2500 years.
I had been reading about Viracocha’s pilgrimage to Tiahuanaco for twenty years and was enchanted to have finally arrived myself.
Even more astonishing, the spatial arrangement of these structures - relative to one another and to the stars above - indicated that the initial site engineers had a highly sophisticated knowledge of astronomy, geomancy and mathematics.
Twelve miles from the coast of the sacred Lake of Titicaca, Tiahuanaco was the source of the creation myths, the social order, and the extraordinary preoccupation with astronomy that underwrote thousands of years of Andean culture.
Yet, for all its importance, Tiahuanaco remains an enigma.
Eight months into the journey, I ascended the Altiplano regions of Peru and Bolivia to spend ten weeks criss-crossing the Andean mountains.
The Andes birthed several great cultures, including the Inca and that of Tiahuanaco (also spelled as Tiwanaku).
The excavated central part of the city is relatively small and one can walk across it in fifteen minutes.