Saturday, November 17, 2018

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

Continued from the previous post, regarding the ancient settlements that were built by early Peruvians along the ancient road that was often characterized with a well-worn footpath of smooth cobblestones on the right side, and on the left a canal to control erosion. From Lake Titicaca to Cuzco, this ancient road covered a distance of about 240 miles, and from Tiwanaku along the southern shore of the lake to Cuzco, a distance of about 360 miles. Most of these ancient settlements were built both as defensive structures and provided with massive and ingenious irrigation channels and canals.
Common mountains with sloping sides and non-descript character, which many travelers today refer to as a boring passage, either by car or train because of the sameness of the terrain

Having discussed the road from Cuzco to the LaRaya Pass, we continue beyond the Pass to the south, where the road passed through miles of non-descript mountain ranges that were both isolated and peaceful. Beyond the Pass, the terrain starts to flatten out as the Altiplano begins and widens. Here the ancient road enters the empty tableland of the Altiplano, sometimes called a “puna,” which originates northwest of Lake Titicaca and extends about 600 miles southeast to the southwestern corner of Bolivia, and is a series of inter montane or mountainous basins. These are separated by spurs reaching eastward from the Cordillera Occidental, which forms the eastern boundary of the tableland lying at about 12,000 feet elevation. On the eastern side of the Altiplano is a continuous passageway of gentle gradient hills extending southward across Bolivia and eventually dropping into the Amazon Basin.
    Along the roadway the Inca later called the Capac Ñan, the vegetation is grass and shrubs, with enough rainfall to adequately cultivate crops without irrigation, while the southern half of the tableland is deficient of moisture and is both much drier and has even less vegetation being a desolate expanses of desert, though mineral rich, and far less hospitable to settlement.
    Though it is called a “road,” we should not consider it in the context of modern terms, since in some areas the “road” passed through some of the most rugged topography in the world, climbing 5,000 feet almost straight up mountains and was little more than a narrow path wide enough for a single llama. Sometimes it was built on a stone ledge, and if a person accidentally bumped their pack, it could send them off the cliff, 2,000 to 3,000 feet straight down.
An example of the ancient road descending into Cuzco Valley today. Note the exceptional condition of this ancient cobblestone road, worn smooth from centuries of foot traffic upon it. Also note how narrow a path it is, about five feet across

In addition, though current tourism promoters like to call them “Inca Roads,” they are actually far older than the Inca, dating back three thousand years and built and used by other cultures, including the Moche and the Nazca, who forged these trails that connected to the larger world, and later engaged in long-range trade for herbal medicine, gold and hallucinogenic compounds. When the Inca conquered the Andes in the 15th century, they used the roads for military dominance and subjugated and impoverished scores of nations.
    Continuing southward, beyond the Pass, the terrain starts to flatten out as the Altiplano begins and widens. Gone were the vertical steps and sectional paths up mountains of the old road at this point, which was now flat and straight, with gravel and dirt packed down, and a narrow canal accompanying parts of it.
    It should be pointed out once again that this ancient road, today called the highland road-south, highway 3S, the Longitudinal de la Sierra Route (Longitudinal Highland-Mountain Highway), runs as far south as the southwest shore of Lake Titicaca, then connects to Bolivia highway 1 at Chaka Marka, now called Desaguadero, a town that splits the border of Peru and Bolivia, and sits between Lake Titicaca and Aguallamaya Lake. Bolivia highway 1 continues to the east to connect Tiwanaku. This area of 3S, which was the ancient road built long before the Inca, and which the Inca named the Caminos del Inca or Inca Royal Road of the Qhapaq Ñan road network, which they used in their eventual northward and southward conquests from Cuzco.
The Altiplano, south of LaRaya Pass and near Lake Titicaca where barren land is unpopulated for the most part where herds of wild llama and alpaca have roamed for millennia

Highway 3S covered most of the main areas of ancient pre-Inca population and cultures in the southeast and central areas of the land, from Cuzco to Tiwanaku, about 30 miles east of Chaka Marka, a Quechua name meaning “bridge village,” and indeed it was at one time a bridge settlement between Tiwanaku in the south of the lake and Puno, 91 miles north, on the northwest shore of the lake.
Representative of the fortress and defensive mode of many settlements along the road to Cuzco from the south were (top) towering rock walls and fortress-like citadels with many surrounded (bottom) by double walls of stone

As has been pointed out in these articles, the settlements built along the ancient road from the south in the Tiwanaku region northward around Lake Titicaca to Cuzco was filled with very strong defensive settlements especially north of the LaRaya Pass, many having high walls around the towns and some with double-walled protection. All the villages were built of stone, despite many being in forested regions, mostly because stone was far more enduring and defensive construction than wood or even mudplaster.
    It should also be noted, that this highway 3S beyond Cuzco runs westward to the middle of the land toward Andahuaylas, where it turns northwest to Chincheros, then northward to Ayacucho, Paucara, Huancayo, La Oroya (where it becomes highway 3N), Casaracra, Junin, Villa Pasco, Huariaca, Huánuco, Caramarca, Conococha, Huaraz, Cajabamba, Cajamarca, and Huancabamba to where it today ends at the Ecuador border. Anciently the road ran all the way north to Quito, and beyond to what is now Pasto in southern Colombia near the base of the Galeras volcano, where the Nudo de los Pastos (Knot of the Pastos) divides the Andes in three parts in the Nariño area of lagoons, volcanoes, moors, warm valleys and deep river gorges. This is where the ancient indigenous fiercely unique and independent Pastos and the little-known large-populated confederation of Quilacingas cultures were located, the latter extending further northward.
Map showing Hwy 3S from LaRaya Pass south to Lake Titicaca

Moving south of the LaRaya Pass, the land is wide open, with flat lands and low rolling hills, and low plateaus atop rock outcroppings. Near Umachiri (Humachiri) on the open Plains are spacious ruins of an ancient settlement of rock buildings on the long, wide tableland of the Altiplano, where wild llama and alpaca still graze and where cold, strong winds blow and black thunderstorms roll across the short grass and rolling hills. Numerous apacheta, or shrines of stone pinnacles abutting smooth stone platforms, dot the landscape, and the settlement sites along the southern route are large and spacious and built with strong walls and buildings. Many such structures were capable of holding large groups of people, and may have been used for troops to guard the southern open land south of the LaRaya Pass. There is no record of this one way or the other, and archaeologists rarely describe such areas as defensive unless securely situated in the protection of mountains.
    All along this ancient road were early Peruvian settlements, most of which were highly defensive, with high walls surrounding the cities and settlements, walled entrance roads, some even double-walled, and often built on high mountains, tops of hills, butted against cliffs and other means of protection from invading forces. Certainly this meets the requirement for the Land of Promise as Mormon describes it in the time of Captain Moroni in the last century BC: “He had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).
    Now lastly, we come to the final leg of the road into Puno and down to Tiwanaku along the shores of Lake Titicaca.
(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 VI, regarding the continuation of “Aqueducts, canals and defensive structures along the road from Lake Titicaca to Cuzco)

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