Friday, November 16, 2018

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

Continued from the previous post, regarding the defensive settlements and fortresses that were anciently built by early Peruvians along the road from the La Raya Pass to Cuzco, a distance of about 110 miles.
    As mentioned earlier, beyond Huaro, Caninunca and Urcos heading south away from Cuzco were the two settlements just before the LaRaya Pass, where the biggest defensive areas are seen, which would have been the first encountered north of the Pass by an invading force.
Many of these fortresses were built with tall stone walls, especially on either side of an entrance or roadway through the settlement to guard against unwanted entry

These two strongholds, were Raqch’i at 11,418-feet, and Sicuani at 11,660-feet, along the east side of the road just north of the La Raya Pass. The former is well known today for its archaeological ruins of the temple Wiraocha, situated along the Vilcanota River, which further downstream, to the north, is called the Urubamba River. This river, by the way, is divided into Upper Urubamba and Lower Urubamba, the dividing feature being the Pongo de Mainique, an infamous whitewater narrow water-gap canyon less than 50-yards wide and two miles long beneath 3,280 to 9,842 feet high rocky cliffs where dozens of waterfalls descended surrounded above by six square miles of dense rainforest.
    Raqch’i is located on a prominent ridge overlooking the surrounding valley providing a natural defensive position, and was a primary control point on this road system that originated in Cuzco. Just beyond the wall was a large dry moat running along the edge of the ridge and steep cliffs all about provided the natural defense of steep slopes, which made the site extremely well protected.
    Archaeologists belief the site, which pre-dates the Inca, was built for possibly religious observances, but there is no question it was situated for defense and built with a 2½ mile long stone wall and a series of eight rectangular buildings around a large courtyard believed to have been barracks to house troops.
Views of the Raqch’i Temple of Wiracocha and the Storehouses

Nearby are 220 circular buildings, believed to have been storehouses, called qullqas. In addition, the terraces on the hillsides are irrigated and no doubt the produce from the fields were housed in the qullqas. Fresh water was available in nearby pools and the surrounding grounds were ideal for grazing llamas and alpacas. This seems to go along with the defensive fort idea, and barracks for troops, so the food storage was needed to both feed the troops during normal circumstances and especially when under attack, and to provide for the people round about, especially when gathering to this area when under attack. In fact, there was a huge building (archaeologists naturally callit a “temple”) that would have held large numbers of people.
The La Raya Pass looking north through it toward Cuzco; Right: One of the long aqueducts of the Tipón irrigation channels just north of the Pass

Beyond the settlements of Raqch’i and Sicuani the ancient road climbs to a height of 14,271 feet as it passes through the La Raya Pass, the highest point between Puno and Cuzco, which marks the only southern entrance into the Cuzco region. In fact, this Pass divides the districts of Cuzco to the north and Puno to the south. Anciently, there were only two ways to go north in this area of Southern Peru, and that was on this road past Lake Titicaca, to the LaRaya Pass, and then on into Cuzco; or the coastal route through the Atacama Desert, one of the driest areas on Earth, and up the coast into Lima. There was also a highlands road that branched off the coast through the Lurin Valley (Lima/Pachacamac) that went east through a pass in the high mountains toward Cuzco or branched off to the north in the middle of the land, toward Cajamarca.
    The Pass itself moving north and south between the 18,009-foot LaRaya Mountain Range, which runs from the southwest to the northeast at this point, is nothing unusual, other than the lofty mountains and altitude. There are no distinguishing landmarks, no unique blocks of rock or mountain outcroppings, no imposing overhangs, cliff faces, canyons or other interesting features. The slopes at this point are gradual and other than the very thin air, mark no area of difficulty to an ancient invading force other than the Pass could be defended with a small force. The road from the south to enter the Pass climbs gradually, as does the road on the north side, descend gradually, providing no undue effort in past ages to encounter.
    For an attacking force moving from the south, the road to Cuzco from the area of Lake Titicaca, gradually ascends 1,715 feet over 130 miles to the LaRaya Pass, then gradually descends 3,119 feet over 110 miles into Cuzco. Again, other than the altitude, this journey itself would not have been difficult for an ancient attacking force moving against Cuzco from the south, such as the Lamanites moving northward to attack the Nephite stronghold in the City of Nephi prior to the time Mosiah left.
    No doubt toward the end of that 400 years between Nephi settling the Land of Nephi an the time Mosiah left with those who would go with him, the Lamanites had conquered numerous cities and settlements to the south of the City of Nephi, cities and fortresses that for centuries had held the Lamanites at bay as the Nephites built, expanded, and populated the entire land as Jarom writes after 200 years of Nephite development following the settlement of the City of Nephi: “And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land…they were scattered upon much of the face of the land: (Jarom 1:5). In fact, though the Lamanites “were exceedingly more numerous than were the Nephites,” the Nephites swept the Lamanites out of their lands (Jarom 1:6-7).
    On the road southward from the LaRaya Pass, there are few ancient development sites until you reach the area of Lake Titicaca. One of the first sites encountered is Juliaca, a settlement on the Altiplano (“high Plains”) at 12,549-feet, where the Andes are the widest (west to east). This settlement is about 28 miles northwest of Lake Titicaca and 26½ miles north of Puno on an area of the Altiplano, called by the Quechua and Aymara the Collao Plateau. The Qullaw, meaning “place of the Qulla,” were an indigenous people of western Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, whose lands are part of the yungas, or high altitude forests, at the edge of the Amazon rainforest).
A Yungas road in Bolivia just east of Juliaca among the Yungas forests, which range from moist lowlands forest to evergreen montane forest and cloud forests. Note the road running alongside this steep cliff face—once an ancient trail

These forests of the Yungas regions, along the eastern slope of the Andes east and south of Lake Titicaca are formed in rugged valleys, fluvial mountain trails and streams. Northward is the Peruvian Yungas located entirely within Peru and stretches nearly the entire length of the country, separated here from the Bolivian Yungas by the Inambari River. Further south there are the Bolivian Yungas, a humid forest region between the drier Gran Chaco region to the east and the dry, high altitude Puna region to the west.
    Today, Juliaca is considered “the heart of a thriving smuggling business” of everything from cocaine and gold, to cars, kitchen appliances and clothing. It is considered by many as one of the “places not to go in Peru.”
    Just a few miles away along the Capachica Peninsula that juts out into Lake Titicaca, are several ancient pre-Columbian and pre-Inca sites where ancient Peruvians settled, no doubt because of the pleasant weather, beautiful scenery and leisurely life style. In this ancient area, the Tiwanaku dominated early Peruvian cultures. Aymara groups today known as the Collas, the Kallahuayos, the Lupacas and the Zapanas all inhabited the Collao Plateau at one time, living around the expansive Lake Titicaca. There is extensive gold and silver in this area, with mines of both precious ores active for the past nearly 200 years under the Spanish rule, and were long in production before the conquest by early Peruvians.
(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 V, regarding the continuation of “Aqueducts, canals and defensive structures along the road from Lake Titicaca to Cuzco)

No comments:

Post a Comment