Sunday, June 16, 2019

Another Fortress Built Early in Nephite Era

In the northern mountain range highlands of Peru, at the headwaters of the Jequetepeque River 19 miles west of Cajamarca which is believed to be the city of Bountiful, lies a site today on top of the La Conga hill named Kuntur Wasi (Condor House or House of the Condor). This ancient fortress is a complex of massive architecture and stone sculptures, whose inhabitants are believed to have had a link with the Chavin Culture.
The ancient site of Kuntur Wasi near Cajamarca in the north highlands of Peru, not far from Trujillo and Chan Chan, the latter containing the largest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas

Complete encircled by a large stone wall, this site is situated in the Jequetepeque valley near the small town of San Pablo, in which the valley provided a transportation corridor between the coastal region and the highlands. Kuntur Wasi was a center where people congregated [Moseley, Michael. The Incas and Their Ancestors. 1992: Thames and Hudson].
    The architecture of the fortress consists of a hill-top temple, quadrangular platforms, a sunken courtyard, and series of rooms. In the floor of one room there is an anthropomorphic figure made of clay, about 30 inches in height, painted with cinnabar red, malachite green, and black, yellow, and pink. Its face has big square eyes and a wide mouth with prominent canine teeth. There are also stepped platforms and funeral structures. Kuntur Wasi was occupied between the years 1200-50 BC.
    This extended defensive area reached all the way to the coast, where Chan Chan is located, along with its 50 to 60-foot-high walls, inland to Pacopampa, near Cajamarca, high walls surrounding entire complexes is noted. Pacopampa with its three superimposed platforms built in the form of a truncated pyramid, is located on the top of a hill, its entrances or covers located to the East. Built of cut and polished stone at an elevation of 8,200-feet, it is 1970-feet by 655-feet with a height of 115-feet above the floor of the first platform, with access staircases made of large carved and polished stones, as well as interior galleries, corridors, ventilation ducts and channels for drainage. There are also remains of columns, a cornice with snakes carved in high relief and various monoliths, obviously associated with architecture.
    In addition, Kuntur Wasi also had defensive walls around its fortress atop a hill overlooking the entire Jequetepeque valley. Archaeologists have made a comparison between the Chavin and these additional sites, incuding Kuntur Wasi, especially in their art.
Lithosculptures have been found at Kuntur Wasi that are similar to the Chavín style

Occupied in the BC period, the site was first discovered in 1945 by Julio C. Tello, and in 1989, scientists from the University of Tokyo excavated four tombs at Kuntur Wasi, unearthing metal needles, cotton fibers and other instruments used to weave clothing, suggesting the ancient Peruvians were weaving cloth in the first century BC. 
    In addition, they uncovered valuable items, including a ceremonial knives, pectoral necklaces, decorative breastplates, gold crowns, ornamental stone beads, earrings, sets of dishes, including iconographies of people, and round copper and gold rectangular plates that date to the Vicús culture, a group even older than was first believed at this site. In addition, Vicús looms were also found, as well as 19 ceramic vessels with Vicús characteristics, and seven gilded copper objects that were placed in the arms and on the heads of the deceased.
    In addition, 2800-year-old forged gold has been found there and is the oldest in the Americas (compared to the forged gold found in Sipán which is about 1800 years old). Since the beginning of the University of Tokyo's archaeological mission, eight tombs have been found in the area [Adriana Von Hagen and Craig Morris, The Cities of the Ancient Andes, Thames and Hudson, 1998).
    The chief example of architecture is the Chavín de Huantar temple. The temple's design shows complex innovation to adapt to the highland environments of Peru. To avoid the temple's being flooded and destroyed during the rainy season, the Chavín created a successful drainage system, with several canals built under the temple acted as drainage. The Chavín also showed advanced acoustic understanding. During the rainy season water rushes through the canals and creates a roaring sound and creates a noise like a jaguar. The temple was built of white granite limestone, neither of which are found near the Chavín site. This meant that leaders organized many workers to bring the special materials from far away rather than use local rock deposits. They also may have been traded from different civilizations in the area.
    The Chavín culture also demonstrated advanced skills and knowledge in metallurgy, soldiering, and temperature control. They used early techniques to develop refined gold work in which the melting of metal had been discovered at this point and was used as a solder.  S.K. Lothrop, "Gold Artifacts of Chavín Style," American Antiquity vol.16, no.3, 1951, pp226–240).
The people in these areas domesticated camelids, such as llamas, for pack animals, for fiber, and for meat, producing ch'arki, or llama jerky. This product was commonly traded by camelid herders and was the main economic resource for the Chavín people, who also cultivated several crops, including potatoes, quinoa, and maize, and developed an irrigation system to assist the growth of these crops.
    In this area anciently, the Chavín and the site of Chavín de Huantar was the place of origin of the second large-scale political entity in the central Andes, and this is mainly due to the extensive architecture at the site as well as the architecture being considered an engineering accomplishment (John W. Rick, "Context, Construction, and Ritual in the Development of Authority,” Chavín de Huantar; William J. Conklin and Jeffrey Quilter, Chavín: Art, Architecture and Culture, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, 2008)
    Construction of the "Old Temple" took place from around 900 to 500 BC, and construction of the "New Temple", the structure that was constructed and added on to the "Old Temple", took place from around 500 to 200 BC. The lack of residential structures, occupational deposits, generalized weaponry and evidence of storage further make the site's architecture more interesting, as it focuses mainly on the temples and what lies inside of them. 
    To further the understanding that these early Pervuian sites were established by a continuous people and not different cultures, the common instance of one people developing and then updating in continual progress can be seen in the region of Kuntur Wasi. As an example, the monumental center at Chavín de Huantar was built in at least 15 known phases, all of which incorporate the 39 known episodes of gallery construction. The earliest known construction stage, the Separate Mound Stage, consisted of separate buildings and do not conform, necessarily, to the U-shaped pattern seen in the Initial Horizon Period and the Early Horizon Period (Silvia Rodriguez Kembel. "The Architecture at the Monumental Center of Chavín de Huantar: Sequence, Transformation and Chronology," Chavín: Art, Architecture and Culture).
    In fact, during the Expansion Stage, construction integrated stepped platforms and created contiguous U-shaped form by connecting the buildings, which now surround open spaces, at which stage, galleries were elaborate in form and features. During the Black and White Stage, all known plazas (the Plaza Mayor, Plaza Menor and the Circular Plaza) were constructed, and as that came to an end, galleries took on a more standardized look. By the end of the growth process, buildings become plazas with a U-shaped arrangement and an east-west axis bisecting the enclosed space, and also the Lanzón.
More, modifications were done during all stages of construction to maintain access to the internal architecture of the site. There was a high level of interest in maintaining access to internal architecture and sacred elements of the site. Internal architecture was constructed as part of a single design and was intricately incorporated with the external architecture, including lateral and asymmetrical growth allowed for these sacred elements to remain visible, including the Lanzón.
    The Lanzón Gallery was created from an earlier freestanding structure that was then transformed into a stone-roofed internal space by constructing around it. The Lanzón was possibly present before the roofing, as it is likely that the Lanzón predates the construction of mounds and plazas. In general, galleries follow construction patterns, which indicates a massive effort in design and planning. Maintaining these galleries over time was important to architects. The galleries are known to be windowless, dead ends, sharp turns and changes in floor height, all of which were designed to disorient people walking in them.
    As Kembrel added, a combination of symmetry and asymmetry were used in the design and planning of the site construction, and in fact guided the design. There were centered placements of staircases, entrances and patios, all of which were consistently prominent. In the last stages of construction, due to constraints, centeredness was no longer possible, so architects shifted to constructing symmetrical pairs. Externally, buildings were asymmetrical to each other.
    This level of advanced design and building would have only been possible if these early Chavín, considered to be the “Mother Culture” of ancient Peru, were an advanced people when they arrived on the scene. As Nephi said, “Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men. And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things” (1 Nephi 18:2-3).

No comments:

Post a Comment