Image: Chris Knutson
In this photograph, you can see that rope has been wound around the bundles from one end of the boat to the other. Benjamín Esteban did the winding while two other relatives waited to pull on the rope, squeezing the reed bundles together until only the large ones could be seen. This not only created the boat’s distinctive shape, but also ensured that it was rigid enough to carry the boulder.
“The project and the boat were called Qala Yampu in honor of the experiment’s two central components,” explains Knutson. “Qala means ‘stone’ and yampu means ‘boat’ in the local Aymara language.”