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  • Spanish archaeologist Jose Ignacio Gallegos (C) heads the research project into the ruins of the Tiahuanaco citadel in western Bolivia.

    Spanish archaeologist Jose Ignacio Gallegos (C) heads the research project into the ruins of the Tiahuanaco citadel in western Bolivia. | Photo: Reuters

Archaeologists have found a large underground plaza and two platforms considered to be part of a pyramid, which Bolivian authorities want to excavate.

Several unexpected archaeological finds at the ancient Tiahuanaco, or Tiwanaku, citadel, are enhancing the research into and the mystery surrounding that long-vanished western Bolivian culture.

A Unesco consultant explained to EFE that the preservation and conservation work being undertaken at the site, 45 miles from La Paz, took a surprising turn when studies using topographic imagery, satellite technology and a drone found that the archaeological complex is larger than previously thought.

Tiahuanaco, which came before the Inca civilization, started out as a village about 1580 BC but grew into an Andean empire that began to spread about 724 AD, although it then went into decline about 1187 AD, according to historians.

"The aim of the project was not scientific discovery. The aim is to provide a set of tools that later will allow us ... to create appropriate policies for work at the site," Spanish archaeologist Jose Ignacio Gallegos said.

Nevertheless, eight drone flights over the complex to gather imagery have shown that the site encompasses at least 1,675 acres.

Among the key finds is that the Puma Punku area, one of the least-researched and most enigmatic portions of the complex because it includes extensive ruins and a terraced earthen mound faced with stone blocks, extends for at least 34 acres.

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