Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Another Major Settlement Near the City of Nephi

We have shown from time to time that for the Nephites to have lived for the first 400 years from Nephi to Mosiah in and around a single location—the city and land of Nephi, there would have had to have been numerous settlement areas in that area.
Huancacalle at Espiritu Pampa, a hilltop site overlooking the valley below

We have also listed numerous towns and village and other cities nearby in the area of Cuzco, or the ancient city of Nephi. Another has recently been uncovered, and this one the Espiritu Pampa archaeological site in the southern Cuzco region, lies five miles to the west of the present city of Cuzco, and nearby is Conceibidatoq, Quilabamba, Kiteni, Huacacale and others.
    From Cusco to Espiritu Pampa through what is today called the Inca Trail, then from there to Vilcamba across suni, puna, or short coarse grass, and the high jungle called rupa rupa, reaching a minimum altitude from 1,640 feet to a maximum 12,664 feet, where the icy wind blows. At 9,780-feet lies Espiritu Pampa with its warm climate, which is located at the base of a mountain on a natural valley overlook, situated in the triangle between the Chomtabamba and the Pampaconas rivers, the latter being a tributary of the Urubamba river. It is situated on the oriental hillside of the Andes, in the middle of the forest sub-tropical wet, typical of the high forest, in the valley of the Rio Urubamba.
    It is now believed that this site, located in a rugged, hard to access region, was the fabled city of Vilcabamba (Willkapampa), the Lost City of the Inca and their last refuge until the Empire fell to the Spaniards in 1572.
According to Vincent Lee (left), the Andean explorer and mountaineer, this area is known as Espiritu Pampa (“plains of the spirit” or “land of ghosts”) in the Cuzco region. Long before the Inca, it was the home of the Wari culture, a society that flourished in South-Andean Ayacucho region and stretched over Cusco’s rainforest.
However, it was mistaken as Eremboni Pampa by Hiram Bingham, who once visited the area on the outskirts of Espiritu Pampa (Vincent Lee, Forgotten Vilcabamba, Sixpac Manco, 2000).
One of the Espiritu Pampa buildings almost hidden in the overgrowth of the Peruvian selva

Research at the stronghold of Espiritu Pampa led to the discovery of extensive structures of stone and massive stone walls, which are part of an immense D-shaped temple. They also found a smaller D-shaped structure within the walled temple, and given its symbolic location, is believed to have served as an astronomical observatory. There were also ceramics and other pieces of evidence of probably added later, of pre-Hispanic Wari (Brian S. Bauer and Javier Fonseca, Vilcabamba and the Archaeology of Inca Resistance, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, UCLA Los Angeles, 2015).
    The archaeologists also discovered two spaces built with small stones within the temple. Tooth fragments were found in the first one; and two Wari style ceramic bottles, a silver chest plate, and a silver crown or headdress in the second. One of the bottles features a human face with big eyes, a nose, and a mouth, but the most remarkable feature is the crown painted over its head: a sign that the area housed elite government figures during Wari’s zenith. There were also eight other graves of the nobility were found there.
Espiritu Pampa Ruins

Since the style of building at Espiritu Pampa was an unmistakable Cuzco style, it belonged to a culture preceding the Wari, such as the Moche and Tiwanaku cultures, or the Nazca, all of which may have had access to Espiritu Pampa. At the site were over 400 buildings, spread out over a site just under two square miles, with most of it covered by jungle today. On the outskirts of Espiritu Pampa was a small settlement, its walls now covered with ferns and overshadowed by huge trees. An ancient aqueduct ran through the buildings, and a tomb discovered inside a structure, not occupied by and preceding the Inca style and, located inside were the remains of a ruler, now dubbed “Lord Huari of Vilcabamba. This find is considered as important as that of the Lord of Sipán, a similar circumstance of the Moche culture, which preceded the Inca by more than a thousand years. It should be noted that no evidence to confirm the existence of characters of singular prestige during the period are known, but are given titles for reference. This also evidences the territorial expansion of the Moche Empire, thus confirming that it also covered part of the Amazon rainforest.  
    Eleven megalithic cistas, or monuments, were found, their construction consisting of four flat stones or slabs, placed vertically forming a rectangle. On them was placed another horizontal stone as a cover, and inside were bodies. These cysts appear most of the times associated with other megalithic formations, like in the center of a burial complex, or inside sepulchral caves.
Three of these cistas had bodies, the others contained a variety of objects, evidently deposited as an offering or to have in the afterlife. There were numerous silver foils and four silver cephalic feathers, along with gold bracelets. In the main tomb of the pre-Inca sovereign "Señor Wari" (left), they found his trousseau and a magnificent silver pectoral in the shape of "Y", two wide golden side bracelets with images of human and animal characteristics, a silver mask, with an anthropomorphic figure, a wooden staff lined with silver, an ornament made up of 156 sheets of silver and three necklaces with precious stones of turquoise and lapis lazuli inset. There were also two wood weapons of chonta and 234 silver small strips, among which 90 % were egg-shaped and the others of circular shapes. All of these items were generally used for the burial of the nobility of this very ancient culture (Javier Fonseca Santa Cruz, The Hidden Face of Pampa Spirit, Iberoamerican Archaeology, vol.10, Cusco Peru, pp3-7).
One of the buildings at Epiritu Pampa that has been restored with a thatched roof

Those who lived here were comfortable with thre extreme heights, as evidenced by their road crossings of high passes and the ruins that are still being discovered to this day on exposed mountain ridges. To communicate urgent messages the people here maintained a line of sight communication system (using fire on exposed ridge tops) and a network of runners. The Inca followed this pattern more than a thousand years later, calling such communication runners chaskis who, with a mouthful of coca to bolster their energy, would run on the roads to the next manned post to relay their message to the next runner.
Top: A col on a ridge between the Andes mountains, also called a notch or gap; Bottom: One of the outposts or overlooks as part of the early-warning system

Anciently, there were outposts or lookout posts perched on the rocky col or gap, which is the lowest point of a ridge between two mountains, for the purpose of providing an early warning station of approaching danger. The Nephites would have had numerous such stations in order to obtain an early warning of Lamanite attack (Mosiah 19:6; 23:25; Alma 43:4; 49:5).
    This overall area of scores of ancient settlements surrounding Cuzco, especially to the north through the Sacred Valley to the Vilcabamba Mounain Range was the home of thousands of early Peruvians and certain marks the area those early Nephite would have expanded, as Jarom wrote “multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land” (Jarom 1:8).

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