Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ancient Settlement Complex Near Imbabura

Seventeen miles south and a little west of the Cerro Imbabura, considered to be the Hill Cumorah of the Nephites and Hill Ramah of the Jaredites, is located an immense Archaeological Park and scientific research area called Cochasquí (meaning “divided water” or “half a lake,” or more understandably, “water from the front of the half,” in Quitu-Cara, in reference to the agricultural aspect of the pyramids).
Cochasquí pyramids are located 9 miles south of Lake Mojanda and the smaller Lake Chiquita along the Malchingui-Mojanda road west of Tabacundo, about 400-feet west of the Archaeological Park

At 10,170-feet above sea level, this extensive 208-acre site provided a 240º visibility from where ancient inhabitants could see such nearby elevations, mountains and valleys as: Pambamarca Pichincha, Cerro Puntas, Cotopaxi, Cayambe, Ilinisas, El Quinche, Los Chillos, San Antonio de Pichincha and others, including both the hills Shim and Cumorah. This geographical position suggests to archaeologists that the people inhabiting these ancient pyramids would have been well-prepared for any attacks, and likely a warrior people, or people expecting invasions from surrounding communities.
The Cangahua blocks of one uncovered pyramid at Cochasquí; made of sedimentary rock of volcanic origin, with a non-foliated, porous texture and low compaction that occurs in the intermediate depression of Ecuador and southern Colombia

Built of a volcanic rubble formed into adobe blocks called cangahua, these pyramids, which took 353 pounds to build, used stone that was first softened with water and then cut with harder volcanic rock tools. It is believed to have been built before the Iron Age, that is before 1200 to 1000 BC., putting it clearly in the Jaredite time frame. The multi-pyramid complex was formed by fifteen quadrangular, truncated pyramids, nine having long ramps that ran to the top. There are also 21 funeral mounds within the complex. Today most of this area is still covered by earth, grass and primary vegetation, deliberately left that way to protect the highly sensitive cangahua blocks of the pyramids from the harsh equatorial weather. The main pyramid has no dome, is flat at the top, with a very long ramp, which is a form reproduced in the site’s ancient jewelry.
    According to the publication Archaeology, the site was known as an historic area by locals, and excavations in 2006 revealed a large ceremonial pool stretching approximately 33 feet by 55 feet. It was uncovered four to five feet below ground level, and had three-foot-high walls around it. Both the walls and floor of the pool were composed of precisely cut and well-fitted stone.
    Georadar (ground-penetrating radar) studies show that there were people living at the site long before the pre-Inca Quitu Cara culture, where pyramids and sacred animals patiently remind us of very ancient Ecuadorian archaeology, which holds more secrets than most people recognize. Such debates, however, rage on in Ecuadorian archaeology over whether Cochasquí was an astronomical observatory, a fortress, a sanctuary, or a combination of functions.
Top Left: The covered pyramids of Cochasquí from ground level; Top Right: Aerial view showing the largest pyramid in the complex; Bottom: Aerial view of th3e large west complex

Considered in part as an ancient observatory, it was built as a defensive complex, it also formed the basis of the lunar agricultural calendar along with Cerro Catequilla and Mitad del Mundo in determining the prevision of the sowing, harvest, tides, and phases of the moon. Located in one of the coldest and windiest areas in the north of the country, the complex is in a quiet and serene area, set far away from any surrounding villages, and it is not a small site—Pachacamac (Zarahemla) in Peru is less than three times larger, and Tiwanaku only twice as large.
    There are 15 flat-topped pyramids predominantly constructed out of volcanic tuff (lacing the consistency of stone or the malleability of earth) of considerable resistance, which is used in these pre-Columbian constructions through geometric shapes that have one higher base and one smaller base. In that way a truncated pyramid is created with its sides in the form of trapezium, which completes the quadrangular prism. The ramps, which run south to north, with its side also a trapezoid shape. Among the architectural elements found in the pyramids are also highlighted, walls, terraces, artificial lakes, canals and roads
An artist’s rendition of the Cochasquí site with restored pyramids

Archaeological investigations have taken place on and off since 1933. The most well-known archaeologist to study the site was Friedrich Max Uhle, a German archaeologist whose work in Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia at the turn of the Twentieth Century had a significant impact on the practice of archaeology of South America. Considered the “Father of Peruvian Archaeology,” by his American successors, he is highly regarded and his work heavily studied, though there tends to be a limited amount of his publications, and the many omissions in his work does cause some difficulties.
    When first seeing the sight Uhle claimed Cochasquí was a ritual site and not a community settlement. Following Uhle’s partial excavations in 1933, German archeologist Udo Oberem, with the help of a team of Ecuadorians, in 1964 furthered the original studies. The archeology team determined that the edifices date from as far back as 850 BC to the arrival of the Spanish Colonists. There are no signs that the Inca ever came to this place.
    In addition, these scientists from the University of Bonn, after conducting studies and excavations in the pyramids and funnery mounds, confirmed that Cochasquí was a housing site because the structures “had rooms in circular shape (bohíos: hut) for rulers and platforms of terracotta, called floors of houses; likewise, they were able to determine the structural form of the pyramids.”
    In 1986, Valentín Yurevich, an astronomer from the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Director of the Quito Astronomical Observatory in Ecuador, conducted archaeo-astronomy studies and concluded that there was “possible astronomical significance,” saying that “Cochasquí was an ideal place to observe the stars and constellations that influence the Earth.”
In Ecuador, little is still known about the history of Cochasquí, now converted into historical and archaeological attractions. However, historians and anthropologists agree that this area is an archaeological representation of a warrior town, and it is estimated that the people who lived there belonged to a communal society whose organization was based, mainly, on lands ruled by a leader (cacicazgos), called ethnic manors, by anthropologist, which organized the lands integrated by the ayllus—an Andean community. This consolidation and growth of diverse populations led to the appearance of a figure (ethnic lord) on which the subsequent foundation of the manors was to pivot. The lord and his people were united by alliances or by the wars that they maintained with each other, with smaller units (ayllus), governed by the chiefs or principals. These ethnic lordships had a complex political organization, belonged to the same family group, and had territorial control. In any case, the leader had to be recognized by all as such in order to maintain the stability of the manor.
    Considered to be one of the most important pre-Inca culture, the Cochasquí settlement pattern is seen as quite different from those of Mesoamerica and the Peruvian Andes. Anthropologists believe that socially Cochasquí was a fairly hierarchical organization, with different economic levels and power. At the top of the pyramid was an elite formed by the lord, with his relatives also part of this upper class. Next were merchants and artisans who received preferential treatment and were not considered labor, so they were exempt from paying tax. Below these were the working population, which formed the "llactakuna." This manner workforce paid a tribute to the servants who depended on the lords and with restrictions on their freedom.
    While the structure of scientists sometimes gets far too complicated for simple understanding, this all sounds a lot like the Jaredite community, or kingdom, we find in the Book of Mormon.

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