Friday, July 7, 2017

So Who Built Sacsayhuaman and the Other Sites in Andean Peru? Part I

As to who built the fabulous pyramids, fortresses, temples, palaces, and highways in Andean Peru, the choices among historians, archaeologists and anthropologists lies between three sources, 1) The Inca, 2) One of the known cultures that pre-dated the Inca, or 3) An unknown ancient people.
    It is in many circles today, more than ever before, becoming commonly questioned as to how the Incas were able to develop such an exquisite architecture without the use of the wheel and modern tools. The buildings they occupied and the Spanish conquistadors found in the Andes have withstood the last five centuries, and many before that, in an earthquake prone zone and provided the foundations of many buildings since before the Spaniards arrived.
    So let us take these three sources one by one.
    1) The Inca. The simple answer is that the Inca did not build any of these magnificent buildings or roads. The Inca were not engineers, builders, or laborers. They had little experience in building, did not construct the magnificent Sacsayhuaman, or any of the other outstanding sites in Andean Peru, nor did they build the 25,000 miles of roads and highways that criss-crossed the land anciently from Colombia to Chile, from Argentina to Bolivia. They did, however, occupy many of the buildings, fortresses and magnificent sites scholars and historians have assigned to their building. But occupying is not building.
    In fact it is beginning to dawn on archaeologists that there is no such thing as Inca architecture—what had been attributed to them in the past was inherited by them from “pre-Inca civilizations.” Many archeologist still insist, however, that the Incas reproduced and updated many buildings, especially those in the Middle Horizon period 600 to 1000 A.D. However, many other studies have shown that the sites with the outstanding “perfect fit” architecture was developed before that time. But the point is that the Inca simply did not exist during that time—not even the most liberal dates place them before 1100 A. D. and no authentic source can place them in Cuzco Valley prior to about 1390 A.D.
The Sanctuary of Pachacamac, credited to a later construction by the Inca—Pachacamac itself was ancient long before the Inca and was a holy city that drew the faithful from all over the Andean area anciently in both pilgrimages and settlement (the foreground walls were part of ancient Pachacamac)

The interesting thing about this site, it is dated back to the 5th century A.D., which is about 600 to 900 years before the Inca were in the area or even existed. As it is stated of the Pachacamac Sanctuary: “Stretching though the Lower LurĂ­n Valley of Peru, Pachacamac Sanctuary surveys the coastal region just south of Lima. Developed as a small ceremonial center in the early 5th century, Pachacamac grew to become one of the most important religious complexes in the pre-Columbian Andean world, reaching its peak during the 6th century. Inca society controlled the site after defeating the local Yschma polity, and occupied the sanctuary until the Spanish arrived in 1533.” There is no possibility that the Inca had anything to do with this site other than occupy it many centuries after it was built.
    One of the things that has to be kept in mind when dealing with Inca history, which is well recorded by early chroniclers, is that in newly conquered territories the Incas altered pre-existing buildings and made them into administrative centers—this did not take building skills, the land was full of ancient buildings that were still in excellent order. Again, the Inca are credited with adding new elements, such as in the Sanctuary of Pachacamac located south of Lima, but since the Inca had no written language, and their legends and myths—what many today call their “history”—is unverifiable, and in most cases known to be exaggerated to make their history look good to impress smaller tribes and intimidate them into submission, it is as much more likely that these other elements were built by other pre-Inca peoples as by the Inca. In fact, archaeologists, including Terence D’Altroy (The Incas, Blackwell, 2003, pp142, 194, 255, 315) claim Pachacamac was a religious center dating back 2000 years before the Inca (dating this site to 200 B.C.)
The site of Pachacamac, a huge city complex named after the “Earth Maker” creator Pacha Kamaq (Creator God of the heavens and earth—only Viracocha was more powerful), the city buildings covers 2.3 square miles and has many enormous buildings and large pyramids and numerous temples. A second section includes secular buildings and palaces of mud-brick stepped structures with ramps and plazas. The main temple is 98,425 square feet in size

A 2007 earthquake crippled the actual sanctuary, which had been built later by other cultures, was forced to close to the public because of the damage; however, the older, original complex of 18 separate structures surrounded by fortified earthen walls and built in B.C. times was not affected by the quakes. Centuries after its construction and occupation, Incan assimilation of the sanctuary allowed the civilization to assume control of both agricultural production in the surrounding region and the religious sphere and influence associated with Pacha Kamaq, the Lord of Earthquakes, the creator God and God of the Earth, revered all over ancient Peru and even today. In fact, long before the time of Christ, the first ceremonial centers were built in the Lurin Valley in Peru by a culture that a thousand years later would become known as the Lima who worshipped Pacha Kamaq.
Stonework at Ollantaytambo in the Valley between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. The work there is remarkable when more completely understood than tour guides explain

At Ollantaytambo, 37 miles northwest of Cuzco, an ancient fortress was built atop a mountain where slabs of massive pink granite stones weighing 67 tons were cut on the opposite side of the valley, hauled down a mountain, across a river and then across the valley and up to Ollantaytambo. Occupied by the Incan emperor, Pachacuti, and Incan nobility, centuries later, it was one of the fortified fortress strongholds for Manco Inca Yupanqui against the Spaniards. Claims by archaeologists and guides alike that the Inca were responsible for this work, and that they in fact never completed it is farcical, since the site was ancient when the Inca arrived.
    The precision seen, especially in the image above was far beyond the capability of the Inca, who had at best bronze tools. The only metal that could shape this granite, which is very high in quartz crystal content would be hardened carbon or cobalt steel, and even with those materials the work would be very difficult. At the western edge of the Ollantaytambo archaeological complex we find what is known as the Temple of the Condor. Here the ancient builders fit stones into the bedrock itself with astonishing accuracy, and created recesses of no known function. According to those who have worked there, the ideas by archaeologists that these recesses were originally made for gold objects is laughable.
    The large dry stone walls display huge blocks that had been carefully cut to fit together tightly without mortar and with levels of precision unmatched anywhere else in the Americas. The stones are so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward have puzzled scientists for decades.  The method used to match precisely the shape of a stone with the adjacent stones is still unknown.
Left: 12-angled cut stone in Cuzco; Right: Newly discovered 13-angled cut found at Incahuasi in the valley of Canete, close to the town of Lunahuana, built somewhat after the city of Cuzco in layout

The most famous stone cut and shaped is found at Cuzco. This twelve-angled stone, which sits in a wall in the Hatun Rumiyoc street of the city, which draws tourists from far and wide who wish to get a glimpse of this incredible work of masonry, now takes a back seat to another stone recently discovered with 13 clearly cut angles. Located in a wall that formed part of a hydraulic system.
    These cut stones and perfect fit as has been discussed here and previously, as an increasing number of archaeologists now admit, could not have been built by the Inca.
(See the next post, “So Who Built Sacsayhuaman and the Other Sites in Andean Peru? Part II,” for more on this subject)

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