Pumapunku or Puma Punku is part of a large temple complex or monument group that is part of the Tiwanaku Site near Tiwanaku, in western Bolivia. It is believed to date to 536AD and later.
Researchers have worked to determine the age of the Pumapunku complex since the discovery of the Tiwanaku site. As noted by Andean specialist, W. H. Isbell, professor at Binghamton University, a radiocarbon date was obtained by Vranich from organic material from the lowermost and oldest layer of mound-fill forming the Pumapunku. This layer was deposited during the first of three construction epochs and dates the initial construction of the Pumapunku to 536–600 AD (1510 ±25 B.P. C14, calibrated date). Since the radiocarbon date came from the lowermost and oldest layer of mound-fill underlying the andesite and sandstone stonework, the stonework must have been constructed sometime after 536–600 AD. The excavation trenches of Vranich show that the clay, sand, and gravel fill of the Pumapunku complex lie directly on the sterile middle Pleistocene sediments. These excavation trenches also demonstrated the lack of any pre-Andean Middle Horizon cultural deposits within the area of the Tiwanaku Site adjacent to the Pumapunku complex.
The Tiwanaku civilization and the use of these temples appears to some to have peaked from 700 AD to 1000 AD, by which point the temples and surrounding area may have been home to some 400,000 people. An extensive infrastructure had been developed, including a complex irrigation system that extended more than 30 square miles (80 km2) to support cultivation of potatoes, quinoa, corn and other various crops. At its peak the Tiwanaku culture dominated the entire Lake Titicaca basin as well as portions of Bolivia and Chile.
This culture seems to have dissolved rather abruptly some time around 1000 AD, and researchers are still seeking answers as to why. A likely scenario involves rapid environmental change, possibly involving an extended drought. Unable to produce the massive crop yields necessary for their large population, the Tiwanaku are argued to have scattered into the local mountain ranges, only to disappear shortly thereafter. Puma Punku is thought to have been abandoned before it was finished.