Monday, February 11, 2019

The Real Pachacámac: the God and the Land

The Inca worshiped a god called Pachacámac; however, that name, and that entity of the Inca was adopted by them from previous cultures they conquered along the maritime area of Peru. In fact, after the Incas conquered the coast, they did not attempt to replace the ancient and deeply rooted worship of Pachacámac but instead incorporated the god into their own pantheon. In doing so, they believed Pachacámac was simply a god of fire and a son of the sun god—one that was invisible for he had never before been represented in art by other cultures.
    The Inca also thought Pachacámac revitalized the world originally created by their god Viracocha, and eventually syncretized or combined him with Viracocha, as the supreme god of the Inca, the father of all other Inca gods as the one who formed the earth heavens, sun, moon, and all living beings.
The later examples of the God Pachacámac as seen in varying cultures scattered throughout the Andes, and especially along the coast

The name Pachacámac, or more accurately Pacha Kamaq, and means “Earth Maker,” or “Earth Creator,” literally the “Creator of the Earth” or “Maker of the Earth.” In Quechua he was the “architect of the world and creator of all its creatures" (James Higgins, Lima: A Cultural History, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005).
    In the pre-Inca period, this God was found in numerous cultures scattered throughout Peru and even Ecuador, and known by such names as Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra, Con-Tici, Viracocha and Inti, with varying histories, but all showed Him to be the creator of the Earth and all things, including people (Robert V. Dover, et. al., Andean Cosmologies through Time, Indiana University Press. 1992, p274).
    Unfortunately, in Inca times, human sacrifice was common, but the site originally and in an ancient time when sacrifice was not human, but of objects, such as animals, plants, crops, etc. He was known in BC times to the earliest settlers of Andean Peru, including the Chavín, Chimú, and later to the Early Lima, Maranga, Moche, the Nazca, and Tiahuanaco.
    In fact, throughout the Andean area, all ancient cultures believed in one supreme God who created the Earth, Heavens, Man and all things—he was acknowledged by all that he was the maker of the Earth; the soul that animated the world; the God not only of creation but also fire and earthquakes, with a visage too glorious for mere humans to gaze upon. His name for the most part was Pachacámac who, without a doubt, was the major deity of all the Andean cultures.
    Consequently, it is hardly surprising that a settlement named after God, and centered around a shrine dedicated to him, would end up being extremely important anciently in the Andes as well. Pilgrimages from all over the lands brought people from far and wide to visit this sacred city bearing his name where a shrine and temple were constructed to honor him.
The Temple at Pachacámac was built on an eight-level stepped earthen platform
Situated inside a large complex built on a natural hill overlooking a colonnaded plaza and sitting on an eight-level platform on a natural hill, the temple buildings dominated the huge site. Each level of the adobe brick platform was about 3½ feet high and painted in bright colors with plant and animal designs, made more striking with a black outline—having as much as 16 coats of paint applied anciently. A set of artist’s brushes (of human hair and reeds) and a bag of pigments were found buried at the site by archaeologist in 1935. The temple itself was well-maintained, and the accommodation buildings on the highest platform were arranged around a courtyard.
    The city, known anciently as Wak’a Pacha Kamaq, became the most distinguished pilgrimage destination along the coastal region, drawing worshipers from all over Peru to render tribute and to consult the high priest (called by archaeologists an “oracle”).
    Located on the coast with a 180º view of the sea, about 20 miles southeast of Lima, in what is today the Valley of the Lurín River, it was both a well-known and the preeminent sacred site in all of the Andes during ancient times, and the destination of pilgrims of many ancient Andean cultures for over 2,000 years, later including the Incas.
    After the temple, the common buildings were added around 200 AD, which was about 1200 years before the Inca began and about 1300 years before the arrival and conquest of the Spanish. So far, while several pyramids have been uncovered; archaeologists have identified at least 17 pyramids and numerous, though uncovered outbuildings around the site.
The original settlement grew larger in the BC period, expanding beyond its original settings

The city started out as a settlement by the early cultures and included not only the “Earth-Maker’s” temple but also the god’s high priest or “oracle,” who was believed to be able to predict the future and control the movement of the Earth, and whom pilgrims consulted for help, advice, and prophecy. Though originally a religious center with only local significance in the first millennium BC, after a desperate drought when the rains were stopped as punishment for humanity’s wickedness, its influence spread after coming under the control of a larger culture that followed and spread into the Rimac valley.
    It is known that a High Priest interpreted the information from the gods in the privacy of a chamber only he was permitted to enter. Pilgrims coming to the temple had to undergo many weeks of initiation, fasting and cleansing rituals before they could be considered worthy of consulting the gods through the High Priest. They were also expected to make offerings. Indeed, the priests of Pachacámac established a network of subsidiary shrines throughout the region which provided opportunity for contributions or tributes from local populations.
    Such was the popularity of the site that the historian Alden Mason described Pachacámac as “the Mecca of Peru,” which is attested by the finds in tombs of pottery and textiles coming from many different cultures such as the Lambayeque Nazca, Wari, Tiwanaku and Chimú, representing various areas throughout the land. It thus became the largest center in central and southern Peru. In the residential zones many of the floors and column bases, which must have supported roofs, survive.
    While the city is now a barren heap of sand and sandstone without a shred of vegetation, anciently it was a sacred city for over 1000 years and the god Pachacámac was still worshiped there when the Spaniards came and destroyed the city. There were large and wide city streets separating the buildings, and some of the palaces which were several stories high, with ramps going up to the upper floors, were separated by lesser roads and alleys. The Temple of the Sun with a view of the valley extending to the sea where irrigated agriculture was visible, overlooked valleys that were once green and supported large populations. There was also a large marketplace where rows of colonnades once stood, now just their bases exist to show the once heavily populated area. In addition, a barely visible road shows where Pilgrims trod, making their way to the city for more than a thousand years.
    The importance of Pachacámac was such that even the conquering Inca had to respect it when they took control in 1470. In an unprecedented move, the Inca admitted the god Pachacámac to a top spot in their pantheon and allowed the religious activity in the city to carry on independent of the Inca state religion. Such was the significance of this centuries-old religious center, that once contained a Temple of the Son, that overtime became a temple of the sun.
    The rediscovery and excavation of Pachacámac began in 1939 and continues to this day, providing a site complex covering almost 1,500 acres with 20 different sites including several temples, mausolea, and other ritual buildings and complexes, so far discovered.
Pachacámac situated along the coast where Mulek landed after being “brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters”

Depending on the time of the year, it can get very hot at Pachacámac, as it does in all the desert coastal regions of Peru. Being the site of the original Zarahemla, it is probably why Mormon wrote: “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40), and what may have caused some of the people under Mosiah who discovered Zarahemla along the coast to later return with Zeniff to the city of Nephi to reinhabit their ancestral home in the mountains (Mosiah 7:13), in a much cooler climate.

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