Saturday, November 24, 2018

Fortress Guarding Cuzco or the City of Nephi – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding the guarded entrance into Cuzco and the likelihood Nephi set up some early warning site south of the city of Nephi.
    The only way into Cuzco (Qosqo) anciently was along the route the ancient road eventually covered, though at the time of Nephi settling there, the area simply would have been an open, level series of more or less level high plains valleys. The area of Cuzco sits on an ancient glacier lake bed at 11,219 feet, and is surrounded by mountain peaks.
    The three rivers through the Cuzco basin and valley area were canalized very early in Peruvian history by the first occupants, diverting the streams to create the space necessary for a larger settlement, which is believed to have been around since about 500 BC.
    The Cuzco-Sicuani back-arc Basin in the Central Andes is located between Cuzco and Sicuani, a town to the southeast, at the northern end of the Peruvian-Bolivian Altiplano, and at the southwestern side of the Eastern Cordillera. This area is part of the high plateau basins, of which there are three along the Cuzco fault system, which intermountain basins formed from the episode of Andine tectonics, which established the Cuzco-Sicuani back-arc basin.
The lower south end of the Cuzco Valley, or Valle Sur, and the Huatanay Valley, which includes the northern arm up past Pukara

At the west end of the Cuzco basin, and extended valley is the Huatanay valley, a basin that extends 20 miles east to Huambutio, about 3½ miles beyond Oropesa. At the south end and about six miles from the original “old town” or original development of Cuzco, is the settlement of San Jerónimo, whose ruins covering 64-square miles, date back to the last century BC, and later occupied by the Wari, Qotakalle, and K’illke cultures. Within this area of the ancient kingdom of Omas and Maras, composed of the Antis and Maras cultures, and an antiquitous settlement of Omas, were later formed fourteen ayllus, or communities, of Yabacona, Collana, Chahwan, Qosqo, Ccallampata, Urin Saca, Chimaraura, Acamana, Apymayta, Ro’uequirau, Rarau, Orcompugio (Picol Orocompugio), Sucsu Aucaylle, Kirkas, Conchacalla, and Chima Panaca. During Inca times, these ayllus were controlled by members of the Inca royal family who sought to demonstrate their power and prestige, but who were under the control of Cuzco.
    The Spanish after their conquest and assimilation of the Cuzco Valley, eliminated the separate ayllus and built a singular town in the lower reaches of the valley called San Jerónimo (St. Jerome), within the Huatanay river basin, on the original five ayllus areas of Urin Qosqo, Yabacona, Collana, Urin Saca and Chimaraurau. This area still has a very large Quechua-speaking population.
    In the valley itself, the earlier, more elevated and most impressive settlement was toward the north and called Hanan, with the lower part in the south of the valley being referred to as the Hurin. There were originally small groups of buildings organized around a courtyard within a high-walled enclosure, called kanchsa. There were also vast plazas, agricultural fields, canals, and decorative, but purposeful fountains. Outside the walls were the farming and artisan communities that spread out into the valley, where qollqas, or storehouses, were located providing the early settlement with numerous storage capacity for food, clothing, and weapons.
    Several well-paved roads led out from the city into the valley and beyond, which eventually led “from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8).
Map showing the location within the Cuzco Valley of Sasayhuaman and what is nowcaslled the Coricancha (Qorikancha), which was the original temple built in BC times, which the Spanish found its walls and floor covered with gold before they destroyed it and built a Spanish cathedral on the ruins called the Church of Santo Domingo. The original temple (Coricancha) is located beneath it and still partly visible

Initially, there was a temple built in the basin that is today referred to as the Qorikancha or Coricancha, over which the present Spanish cathedral of Santo Domingo was later constructed. In this original temple, were worshiped the two gods, Viracocha, the creator God, and Inti, the Son. Much later, during Inka times, several wasi gods were added, such as Chaska-Qoylor, Illapa, and Cuichu, each with their statues. Whether this temple was built before or after the one on the hill connected to the cyclopean Sacsayhuaman fortress is unknown; however, the latter was said to be able to house 1,000 warriors, sat 755-feet above Cuzco and guarded the valley. Next to this temple site was the very tall tower king Noah built (Mosiah 11:12).
    Located to the east of Sacsayhuaman and on the hill called Cerro Socorro, north of Cuzco is an area today labeled as a temple caved out of a gigantic naturally-occurring monolith stretched across a hillside, and called Qenqo (K’enko), meaning “zigzag” or “labyrinth” or “maze.” It is so named because of the maze of secret and concealed underground galleries or tunnel passageways connecting natural chambers, as well as man-made caves the small channels carved in the rocks in a zigzag form. What this shrine or structure was originally called or its purpose is unknown to archaeologists today, though many wild and fanciful claims have been made about its ancient use from being a ceremonial center where demonic rituals were conducted, to a royal tomb, to a location where priests bridged the gap between the living and the dead.
    This lithic complex, referred to as Qenqo Grande, is within a semicircular shape of a 181-foot wide amphitheater about—formed by an outer wall with 19 large niches that were the foundation of a great ancient wall, and at the center of the semicircular natural cavity in the rock is a 20-foot high block of stone that rests on a solid rectangular pedestal, now partially destroyed but was once a carved sculpture. There is another structure about four football fields away referred to as Qenqo Chico, or “small labyrinth,” that only adds to the mystery of the overall purpose of this site—most of which was destroyed by the Spanish extirpators of idolatries in their effort to rid the conquered indigenous peoples of their religious iconic symbols and shrines.
Some of the monoliths and stonework of Q’enqo (original images by Leon Petrosyan)

And as long as everyone is speculating about the area, it certainly could be the “place of resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land” (Mosiah 11:13), with its small “outpost” appearance and its labyrinth of underground tunnels on this hill overlooking the northern valley where the land of Shilom was evidently located amidst an area of defensive arrangement and perfect observation within the hillside.
    It is also of interest to know that this enormous site contains irrigation or water canals, certainly an indication of the ancients’ predilection of survival for embedded populations since its 11,500-square-feet area could house several people, not to mention the underground tunnels, rooms and drainage channels for rainwater to exit these areas.
    There is also a rocky ledge decorated with a passage that leads to an underground room, a complex of platforms, and rooms with a chamber carved completely into a gigantic rock. In the lower part of the rock structure are carved, the floor, walls, ceiling, tables, cupboards and niches, with additional rooms for service in the perimeter, considered an amazing work of ancient architecture of these early Peruvians. In addition, behind the central stone rises a promontory with steps carved into the rock, leading to the summit and the remains of a room, probably an observation point of some type. In addition, on the live rock, paved and polished protrude two cylinders of short height considered to be an Intihuatana, which translates as “place where it is moored to the sun,” that is, a formation that calculates the position of the sun.
    It is not known how this device worked, though there are several of these enigmatic carved stones believed to be scattered throughout Peru—the best known being at Machu Picchu—and believed to be a kind of astronomical observatory used to measure time, to establish the seasons, to determine the solstices and equinoxes.
    This overall site is located at the foot of the path that goes from Sacsayhuaman to Pisac—in other words, Qenqo is within a short distance of the safety of the overall fortress at the top of the plateau overlooking the valley. This might suggest, as long as we are speculating here, that the resort was built first, then the large fortress complex added later for greater security and defense. Nearby Qenqo Chico, which was mostly destroyed by the Spanish, shows remnants of high walls, circular planning and the same care in working with the rock—a use of stone and the careful carving that stand out in the ancient Peruvian work.
(See the next post, “Fortress Guarding Cuzco or the City of Nephi – Part II,” for additional information on the outpost that guarded the entrance into Cuzco, or the city of Nephi)

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