Monday, November 19, 2018

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

Continued from the previous post, regarding the ancient settlements that were built by early Peruvians along the ancient road that ran from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca. We have covered the area from Cuzco southward to Ayaviri area, and on toward the Pukará region in the previous posts.
    At this point, the ancient road ran from Ayaviri southward past the mountain village of Tirapata and then seven miles south between the hills to Pukará, 20 miles from Ayaviri. An interesting point about Pukará is that it was built back from the present sight along the Pukaramayu, a river meaning “fortress or mountain of protection,” and abutting the mountain rise to the west, surrounded on three sides by the rising cliffs.
The ancient and current sites of Pukará at the foot of the mountain nearly surrounding it. Archaeologist claim the ancient site of pyramids was built around 500-200 BC

The ancient site was an important ceremonial sector composed of nine pyramids of various shapes and sizes, the most important being the Kalasaya (“standing stones”) pyramid, which some archaeologists claim was built by the Kollavina culture of Tiahuanaco (not to be confused with the Kalasasaya pyramid at Tiwanaku). This main pyramid consists of a series of truncated pyramid-shaped buildings, as well as overlapping and successive platforms. 
    On the upper terrace is a U-shaped enclosure and structures with a simpler circular shape. Kalasay’s facade has a base length of 985 feet, a height of 98½ feet and a depth of 492 feet.
The ancient fortress of Pukará, with its several layers of defensive pircas, or dry-stone walls, and terraces that form up into the mountain behind it—most of the fortresses in this region are similarly built of high pirca walls

A series of terraces topped by a ceremonial plaza in the center features a sunken courtyard, perfectly defined by rectangular stone slabs, with compartments in the form of hardware and figurines of the puma and snake. The area includes several stone sculptures on stone slabs between 5 and 10 feet in height. The area itself was an influential culture incorporating earlier communities of the Qaluyu and Chiripa around the north of the lake, characterized by a hierarchy of sites composed of the main nucleus of Pakará, and several smaller centers and villages scattered through the area.
    Pukará’s finely made ceramics were painted in various colors, including many non-utilitarian forms, such as human and animal motifs. These pottery and textiles are found widely in the middle Andean, and the coastal Pacific valleys, reaching out into Peru and Chile. It is thought that the rise of Tiwanaku may have contributed to the weakening of Pukará around 200 AD.
The stark stone mountain ridge called Peñon Hill overlooking the early settlement of Pukará, where defense seems to have been the purpose of its location overlooking the old road northward

It might be noted that this site could only have been chosen in the last century BC because of its defensive position, since it was far back from the river and not adjacent to the ancient road. With the cliffs all about, attack could only come from one side and that approach was over level ground that provided a clear view for some distance.
    Southward, beyond Pukará, between Puno and Mañazo and Ichuña the Altiplano is made up of undulating and varied terrain from the broken waves of the Totalaque region to the Hualka Mountain range, in the eastern part; the relief is formed by mountains with slopes between very high and low hills, slightly dissected plateaus, steep slopes and valleys. Most of the land is covered with Andean pajonal, or thick stubble scrub or brushland, with perennial grasses growing in isolated champas, or clusters, among smaller growing plants.
    Bofedales (oconales), or wetlands with underlying peat layers necessary for continual moisture in the highlands, and provides a deep and turbid organic soil, which causes constant edaphic humidity throughout the year. This creates a year-round green appearance which contrasts with the yellow of the drier land that surrounds them, providing a striking divergence on the punas covered with plants that need very little water. In the early days of settlements, the presence of these bofedales often determined the location of villages and hamlets on the puna (Luis G. Lumbreras, “A Formative Without Pottery and Preformative Pottery,” Atacama ́s Studies, Archeology and Anthropology of Southern Andes (32), 2006, pp1-34).
    This region is the beginning of the Moquegua, or the rise of the mountains and deep canyons, where the only movement is along the river canyons, which ultimately tend to run east and west to the sea.
The narrow highland valley through the Andes in southern Peru west of the Altiplano where the modern settlement of Ichuña is located. Note the terrain, typical of the settlement areas in the extended region within a narrow river-cut valley through the mountain peaks

Along this western boundary of the Altiplano and the eastern highland edge of the Moquegua Valley is the settlement of Ichuña at 12,468-feet (about 3,300-feet below the snow line) where the Ichuña River snakes through the low hills and cliff-sided plateaus of the Andes Mountains, cutting into the ground often forming steep or sometimes vertical slopes as well as high mountain puna. Further southwest beyond a deep river canyon is the area of Chojata, high above an abysmal river break where several deep canyons have been cut, forming crosscut breaks in the land and inhibiting travel north and south. Here at 12,008-feet on a mountain side is found the Argentine and Bolivian low-growing cactus flora Tephrocactus verschaffeltii in the only location in all of Peru, and 250 miles from the next known location in LaPaz, Bolivia.
    In these lower Andean shrublands where the wind is slight and the average precipitation is 9½ inches per year (same as Moab, Utah, and half that of Salt Lake City), and the average temperature is 67º (about the same as Las Vegas, Nevada, or Albuquerque, New Mexico), travel could be difficult without prior knowledge of which river canyons ended up in the direction desired. Anciently, before paths or trails, the only sure way open to movement north and south, was near the lake along the west side in the narrowing and widening valleys or basins, where the ancient road was laid. Of course, travel was definitely curtailed by the LaRaya Pass to the north and the Atacama Desert to the southwest, the salt flats to the south and the cordillera where Potosi is located to the southeast with the coastal mountains blocking the west and Lake Titicaca deterring movement to the east.
    On the other hand, guarding the Altiplano against invasions from the south would have been difficult until nearly the Puno area, where, along the ancient road stone fortresses were scattered providing more security against northward travel.
The (light blue) Altiplano stretching through southeast Peru, western Bolivia, a slice of eastern Chile and almost to the northern Argentina border. Tacna, below the Titicaca Plateau, 22-miles north of the Chilean border, is both a mountainous volcanic and desert area, with rivers flowing over the punas and the plateaus, forming a hydrographical system, as well as a prosperous mining area; and Arica, eleven-miles south of the border in northern Chile, is a port city with one of the lowest annual rainfalls, and known as the Arica Bend or Arica Elbow, and is separated from the Atacama Desert by the Azapa Valley. This entire area has been populated for thousands of yeark, with some 80-85% of this vast area Quechua-speaking people

To the south of Pukará is the ancient fortress area of Pukarani, an area considered by archaeologists to hold “great archaeological secrets waiting to be discovered.”
(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 VIII, regarding the continuation of the road south to Pukarani and on toward Juliaca and Puno)

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