Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Were There Other Cities Vacated by the Nephites at the Time Mosiah I Left the Land and City of Nephi – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the various ancient settlements surrounding the area of Cuzco, or the City of Nephi.
    Another area, about 12 miles south of Cuzco along the road to La Raya Pass and Puno beyond, was the settlement of Oropesa at 10,223-feet, 4½-miles south of Tipón, beneath the tallest peak in the area at 15,886-feet. This elevated area overlooks the winding road that runs past the mountain between Oropesa and Tipón and into the Cuzco Valley.
Looking down on the settlement area of Oropesa from the Fortress of Tipón, high in the mountains overlooking the valley leading in to Cuzco from the south

Oropesa is famous for baking hand-made pan Chuta—the Quechua name for this bread—which is baked in big, round, relatively flat loaves made from quinoa, barley, wheat and honey, and tastes more like cake than bread. This village was famous for making these bread loafs that measure about 12” around but only 2” thick, all the way back in antiquity where it began as a standard gift when early Andeans went visiting in the rural communities around Cuzco. The gift symbolized the affection and respect one had for the people they visited, and as such became very important in a society and economy built around people helping and trusting each other. The gift was seen as a return for the love and respect implied in the visit itself, and about a dozen families in Oropesa still keep the ancient recipe alive today.
Chuta pan bread loaves freshly baked and ready for sales along the streets and open markets of Oropesa and even into Cuzco

It is interesting that this totally early Perruvin pan baked bread is similar in shape and size to the ancient Hebrew Pita, Kadeh, flatbread and even unleavened bread (though the latter was even thinner), and laffa, láfa, or Arab Taboon bread, as well as the Egyptian emmer bread—in fact, the ingredients of the emmer bread was almost identical, with emmer replacing the quinoa, but including the honey.
    Built in the mountains overlooking the only route into Cuzco from the south (where the Lamanites would have been), the Tipón and Oropesa areas would have made ideal warning posts to notify Cuzco, or the inhabitants of the city of Nephi and surrounding villagers of approaching Lamanites from the south.
    Continuing south toward the La Raya Pass, are the areas of Pikillacta (Pikillaqta), Huarcapay, Andahuaylillas and Huaro on the road to Lake Titicaca. This “sacred lake” was the cradle for Peru’s ancient civilizations. The Puraka culture settled in this fertile land around 200 BC and later the Tiwanaku Culture emerged and spread throughout the Altiplano and into Bolivia. Warlike tribes like the Aymaras and the Collas emerged only to be much later eventually absorbed by the Incas, who unified the many cultures in the 1400s AD and spread out to become the Inca Empire. The current local population is the Uros, who populate the numerous man-made islands in the lake, are people who have populated this territory for thousands of years, resulting from both the Aymara and the Quechua populations who now speak the ancient language of Aymara.
    As mentioned earlier, Tipón, along the east side of the road between the LaRaya Pass and Cuzco Valley, was high in the mountains, and could only be reached via an arduous trek up a steep incline.
Modern asphalted road from the main road from the Pass into Cuzco, up into the mountains and Tipón. Note the hairpin turns and cross-back—of which there are currently numerous such dangerous paths originally

In the early days of Peruvian development, this area was isolated, with a 180º view of the approach from the south, and difficult to attack, both because of the steepness of the inclines, and also the high walls of the surrounding fortress of Tipón high up on the side of the mountain, though these highlands may have been lower in BC times. If someone, say like the Nephites, wanted to be warned of any northerly approach of an enemy, such as the Lamanites, this fortress would be in the perfect spot, for there was no other way into the Cuzco Valley, except past this mountain along the road northward.
    Continuing south on the road from Cuzco toward La Raya Pass, which was the only means of reaching Cuzco from the south because of the mountain range in between, are these four settlements or fortresses (now at 11,000 feet) for the defense of the road northward and the main seat of the early Nephite kingdom. Today, these formidable areas are called: Pikillacta, Wiraqucha, Huarcapay, and Andahuaylillas, all in an area about an hour south of Cuzco and north of the Altiplano, about 215 miles from Puno.
From Cuzco to Tipón is about 15½ miles; to Wiraqucha about 25 miles; to Sicuani about 86 miles; to La Raya Pass about 110 miles

The first settlement of the four was that of Pikillacta, a sprawling pre-Columbian heavy-walled city with terraced agriculture, located at 10,660-feet in the Lucre Basin on low grassy, rock and sandy ridges in the eastern Valley of Cuzco, with few rivers but several nearby lakes. The settlement sat on the fork in the road, with the main road continuing to the northwest into Cuzco, and the other branching off to the north to the Urubamba River and on into Pisac at the beginning of the Sacred Valley—making Pikillacta a perfect location for defense of the two most important routes in the region.
    Extensive research in the area and at the site has not been accomplished, but archaeologists claim it was a Wari sight before the Inca, but had been settled long before the War. The entire Lucre Basin is well watered with canals, reservoirs, aqueducts along with terraces and cultivated fields including a hydraulic network fed by rainfall that led through canals and agriculture fields to help the people. These canals were built of stone and connected to the Lucre River and Chelke stream, with over 57,000-feet of canal in the system, one of which was used for irrigation of four terraces and connected to the aqueducts. All these devices aided in crop production and provided the people with water. In the large-scale sight, an overall conjoint structure contained over 500 small rooms, with small fire hearths, which archeologists claim must have been for ritual purposes but just as likely were areas of abode, as other archaeologists claim the site was a large trading center. The site was abandoned hundreds of years before the Inca came to power.
    While Pikillacta was on the north of the road into Cuzco, the ancient site of Huacarpay along with Huarcapay Lake was situated on the south side of the road, and together controlled the road northward into Cuzco. In peaceful times, these areas were trade centers for goods going north or those going south toward Lake Titicaca and the Tiwanaku. It should be noted that the climate in this area is cold and dry, with a wet season commencing in November, creating a milder clime until April, with an average temperature high in the 60s and the average temperature low in the 30s and 40s year round in the Valley of Cusco. However, the climate is quite wet compared to the U.S., where the average rainfall per year is 2.5” per month, but 7.2” in this area in and around Cuzco Valley. Which should suggest that at 11.5” per month in the wet season and 4.2” in the dry season, that attacks were no doubt commenced around the beginning of the dry season (November) and ended around 6 to 7 months later (April-May) at the commencement of the wet season.
    Therefore, the dry season in Cuzco is equivalent to say Baltimore, Maryland, Boston, Massachusetts, or Indianapolis, Indiana; whereas the wet season in Cuzco is equivalent to Miami, Florida, Detroit, Michigan, or Seattle, Washington. It seems safe to assume that, like Napoleon attacking Moscow in the winter, the Lamanites realized their best chances of winning battles far from home would be during the dry season when movement across dry land was easier and the temperatures were not so cold in the mountain passes.
    Even so, attacking Nephi cities proved difficult for the Lamanties, for they were well fortified. The area of Pikillacta is uniquely defended by a series of rock or stone walls surrounding the city and guarding the entrances within the city along its main corridors.
The unique walls that blanket Pikillacta and any entrance into the terraces and eventually into the walled city itself, just south of the LaRaya Pass
Continuing on the road southward, are Wiraqucha and Andahuaylillas, and the two further cities today called Raqchi and Sicuajni.
(See the next post, “Were There Other Cities Vacated by the Nephites at the Time Mosiah I Left the Land and City of Nephi – Part II,” for more on the additional sites built by the Nephites to the south, between Cuzco (City of Nephi) and the area of Puno, which at one time would have been along the Sea East in the Land of Nephi)

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