LA PAZ, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Bolivia is to construct an underwater museum at Lake Titicaca to show archaeological objects from the Tiwanaku culture, the oldest in the Americas.
Bolivian Vice Tourism Minister Ricardo Cox told Xinhua that the project is expected to directly benefit 13 municipalities around the lake with income from tourism, with the underwater museum being part of the network of museums and archaeological sites around Tiwanaku, a Pre-Columbian archaeological site in western Bolivia.
Tiwanaku is thought to be a cosmological center for the Tiwanaku empire from 300 BC to 300 AD.
The project will receive funding of 2.4 million U.S. dollars from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The museum will be located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. It will be made up of two principal buildings with one built on the shoreside and the other semi-submerged.
The final plan, Cox said, was drawn up by the Belgian Technical Cooperation (CTB), which has been involved with the "Lake Project" along with researchers from the Free University of Brussels. The Bolivian Ministry of Cultures and Tourism was also involved.
"The underwater area will be devoted to museology and underwater heritage. It is a floating platform that respects the physical integrity of the archaeological site," Cox explained.
CTB representative in Bolivia, Cecil Roux, told Xinhua that the museum's design came from underwater archaeological research on the lake heritage of the sites where the Tiwanaku and Inca civilizations developed.
Roux explained that the museum is to be built after last year's incredible discoveries made by the Belgian research team.
Around 10,000 pieces were found, the largest discovery of its kind in the area, including bone artifacts and kitchen utensils.
The findings, said Roux, appear to belong to a submerged city, seeming to confirm the suggestion that the community was displaced due to a rise in water levels.
Cox emphasized that the main objectives of the underwater museum are to develop community-based tourism while creating a center for scientific research.
The museum will be built by members of a local coastal community of Titicaca, some 100 km from La Paz.
Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world, sitting at an altitude of 3,812 meters and with an area of 8,372 square km. It is a natural border between Bolivia and Peru.