Saturday, January 11, 2020

How Did Mormon Describe Nephi’s Temple and Noah’s Tower? – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the insert that Mormon placed in his abridgement of Alma, as well as statements made in Alma 63 having to do with the direction of the Nephite immigrants who went north by ship.
    As for the Temple mentioned in the city of Nephi, the Qoricancha built down in the valley, would not have been the temple mentioned in the Book of Mormon, since any tower next to it could not have seen much of a distance, and certainly not into the Land of Shilom or Shemlon (Mosiah 11:12). To have been able to see both these lands, Noah’s tower would have had to be in some elevated area, allowing a tall tower to see beyond the hills or mountains that surrounded the City of Nephi and the City of Shilom.
Located on a hill that overlooks the city of Cuzco, the fortified complex has an extensive view of the valley to the southeast
Sacasyhuaman is located in the northern outskirts of the city of Cuzco, on a steep hill that overlooks the valley, resting on an artificially leveled mountaintop. The complex consists of three outer lines of gargantuan walls, 1,500 feet long, 54 feet in depth and 19 feet tall. The fortified complex had a wide view of the valley to the southeast  and into a small connecting valley to the southwest, with the main valley about 10 miles long, and from one mile to just over two miles wide. Two other connecting valleys adding additional distance. The entire valley is mostly surrounded by terraces or andenes with three distinct side valleys, two in the northwest, and one in the southeast.
    The Cuzco valley is about 62 miles from the Urubamba Valley, often called the Sacred Valley, which lies to the northwest. The complex surrounds an area containing a circular stone structure believed to be a solar calendar, with the actual ruins including sacred and residential buildings, a 500,000-gallon water reservoir, cisterns, storage rooms, warehouses, roads, ramps, underground chambers and aqueducts. The shape and harmony of the landscape is similar to other sacred places such as nearby Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.
    The massive stone walls predate the Inca, and the Killke, as well as several earlier cultures. Surface collections and analysis of pottery at Sacsayhuaman indicate that the earliest occupation makes it one of the oldest ancient establishments on the planet. According to recent studies, archaeologists state that the older sections of the site were built more than 1,000 before the Inca, and that there are numerous mysteries surrounding this incredible fortress that have baffled archaeology and history ever since its discovery. In 2007 archaeologists began a concentrated dig around the complex and a year later discovered the ruins of another ancient temple, roadway and irrigation system; however, much of the site was destroyed by dynamite blasts in the early 20th century when the site was used as a stone quarry
    There is no question that Sascsayhuaman is an amazing architectonic complex and at one time was a fortress overlooking the valley. After the arrival of the Inca, the area beneath its view was used as their capital. Because of the massive and unusual structure of the dry stone walls, the site is considered as one of the best monuments on planet Earth that have been constructed by men. An amazing fact is that the workers cut the stones very carefully and put them together without mortar, so tightly fitting that not even a piece of paper or knife blade can be insert between them.  
A portion of the 3-tiered walls at Sacsayhuaman, built in a zigzag pattern for greater coverage of the defenders. Note the yellow arrow pointing down to the valley below

The walls at Sacsayhuaman are megalithic structures, with foundations made of Yucay limestone brought from over 9-miles away. The megalithic structure has equaled those tolerances with huge multi-sided blocks which are all completely irregular in a kind of three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The outer walls are made from massive diorite blocks from nearby, and the inner buildings and towers are made from dark andesite. Most of the stones vary from 90 to 200 tons, with the outside defensive walls built in zigzag order with giant stones up to 16 feet high and 8 feet wide. A single 200-ton stone is among the largest that were ever used in any construction in prehispanic America. Many archaeologists explain that the boulders were carved or in other ways made in an uneven pattern of angles and curves to fit perfectly with each other, for both unusual strength and for effective support against earthquakes.
The unusual angles of the complex design of the ancient wall. Note how tightly are the angled joints
The angles and curves of the stones are closely spaced with a precision, combined with the rounded corners of the blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco. The estimated volume of stone is over 20,000 cubic feet.
    The south side of the complex is bounded by a polished wall nearly 1500 feet long, though the east and west sides are limited by other walls and platforms. According to the Peruvian chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Sacsayhuaman was the greatest architectural work that had been encountered in the conquest. He also described that in his time, the buildings had huge windows, that the fortress rooms were filled with weapons, and that there were underground tunnels and rooms. Unfortunately, after the siege of Sacsayhuaman that spelled the end of the Inca, all of these buildings in the fortress were destroyed. Historians believe that several of the large structures at the complex were used for rituals and the large plaza area was made for ceremonial activities. The plaza to the north of the complex where current pageants are held, is the best-known spot of Sacsayhuaman.
The foundation forms of the temple, fortress and tower; the tower foundation is shown in the circle (as well as the next two circles outward). Yellow arrow showing down the hill toward the valley below; the three-tiered wall is to the right

After Francisco Pizarro finally entered Cuzco, his brother Pedro Pizarro described his first view of the valley: “On top of a hill they had a very strong fort surrounded with masonry walls of stones and having two very high round towers.” He also spoke of the wall construction: “In the lower part of the wall there were stones so large and thick that it seemed impossible that human hands could have set them in place...they were so close together, and so well fitted, that the point of a pin could not have been inserted in one of the joints. The whole fortress was built up in terraces and flat spaces."
    Regarding the fortress, he wrote: “The storage rooms within the complex were filled with military equipment—arms, lances, arrows, darts, clubs, bucklers and large oblong shields. There were many morions (helmets). There were also certain stretchers in which the Lords traveled, as in litters."
    Archaeologists claim that at its peak, Sacsayhuaman was a vast complex, with the inner precinct a maze of narrow streets dominated by three large towers. At the back of this section was a temple dedicated to the sun, which archaeologists claim was the most sacred place of the Inca Empire during occupation. The inner fortress could have housed as many as ten thousand people under siege.
    There are also several important sites outside the main fortress. The Qocha Chincanas, is thought to have been a cemetery while the sacred spring of Calispucyo was integral to the initiation ceremonies of toung boys. The Rodadero (“sliding place”), is a huaca or shrine centred around a peculiar rock formation which has had steps, benches and and a throne carved into it. The Rodadero was of great spiritual and ceremonial importance but it also served as a ‘recreational sliding area’ which can still be enjoyed by the young at heart.
    Following the siege of Cuzco, the Spaniards began to use Sacsayhuaman as a source of stones for building Spanish Cuzco; within a few years, they had taken apart and demolished much of the complex. The site was destroyed block-by-block to build the new Spanish governmental and religious buildings of the colonial city, as well as the houses of the wealthiest Spaniards.
The walls around Sacsayhuaman were once several feet higher before the Spanish tore down the smaller stones for use in their buildings

Of this, Garcilaso de la Vega wrote: "To save themselves the expense, effort and delay with which the Indians worked the stone, they pulled down all the smooth masonry in the walls. There is indeed not a house in the city that has not been made of this stone, or at least the houses built by the Spaniards." Today, only the stones that were too large to be easily moved remain at the site. Much of the complex is destroyed and numerous stones hauled away. The 15-foot high walls were once over 28-feet tall. It is unfortunate that the Spanish tore down as many of the smaller stones on the walls and buildings on the hill that they could.
(See the next post, “ How Did Mormon Describe Nephi’s Temple and Noah’s Tower? – Part III,” regarding the insert that Mormon placed in his abridgement of Alma and also of the construction of the fortress of Sacsayhuamen, or Nephi’s temple and Noah’s tower)

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