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      Prehistoric Peru: (The Land of the Four Quarters)

Sacsayhuaman Ollantiatambo, Peru. Nazca, Peru Throne of the Inca, Cuzco

It is a peculiar fact, common to many ancient ancient cultures, that the oldest civilisations were the most advanced, at the same time as possessing the highest style of art and mechanical skill. This is true of Peru.

Baldwin says of Peru in his 'Pre-historic Nations'; 'The oldest structures were attributed to bearded white men, who it is said, worked stone with iron implements brought from their own country. The traditions call them 'sons of the sea'. It is a remarkable fact, not generally known, that the Incas worked iron mines on the east side of Lake Titicaca. (see introduction to Popl-Vuh p.224). Planet worship, temples of the sun, and a great knowledge of astronomy existed in Peru at a very early period. Montesinos and De Bourbourg say the Peruvians had an accurate measure of the solar year, and a knowledge of the art of writing, together with paper made of banana leaves at least 1800 years before our era'.(2)

 

   Featured Peruvian Locations:
 

Caral-Supe Complex.

At 2,600 BC, this is the oldest centre of civilisation in the Americas. A quipu (the knot system used in Andean civilizations to record information) found on the site testifies to the development and complexity of Caral society. The city’s plan and some of its components, including pyramidal structures and residence of the elite, show clear evidence of ceremonial functions and monumental architecture, including six large pyramidal structures.

(More about the Caral Pyramid Complex)

 
 

Chankillo Landscape Observatory

The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo run north to south along a low ridge within a fourth-century B.C. ceremonial complex in north coastal Peru. From evident observing points within the adjacent buildings to the west and east, they formed an artificial toothed horizon that spanned the annual rising and setting arcs of the Sun. 

At present, the culture that made them has not been named.

(More about the Chankillo Observatory)

 

 
 

Sechin Alto complex - This almost unnoticed U-shaped ceremonial complex is one of the largest of all early monuments in the Americas. It includes both a colossal, stone-faced platform which stands 40m high and measured 300m x 250m at the base, and the large sunken plaza called the 'Serro Sechin' with architectural resemblances to both Tiahuanacan culture to the south and Olmec remains from the north.

The Plaza in the photo (Left) is dated at 3,500 BC, other structures have been found beneath it, making it one of the earliest of its kind in the Pre-Columbian Americas. (5)

(More about the Sechin Complex)

 

Chavin du Huntaar, Peru.Chavin du Huantar  - Capital of the Chavin culture.

Chavin du Huantar, is an unusual complex of steeply walled platforms, honeycombed with stone-lined passages surrounding a sunken plaza. It is unique amongst Pre-Columbian temple groups. The principle edifice, called 'The Castillo' is faced with cut-stone blocks in courses of varying widths. Inside the core are at least three irregular storeys of stone-lined galleries, chambers and ventilating shafts.

There are still several engraved obelisks as Chavin du Huantar. Perhaps the most incredible (Right), called 'El-Toro' (the Bull), or 'Lanzon' (the Lance), was originally situated in the centre and deep in the underground catacombs at Chavin de Huantar. The top of it, at 4.5m,  protruded through the ceiling, and the floor above.

(More about Chavin du Huantar)

 
 

Throne of the Inca, Peru Cuzco (Cusco) - The capital of the Inca empire. The name Cuzco means 'Navel' in Quechua, with the site being considered the 'earth-navel' of the Incas nations. Tradition describes the founders of Cuzco as two 'children of the Sun'. Manco Capac and Mama Occlo Huaco, who were both brother and sister and husband and wife. Sent by the Sun, the couple advanced from lake Titicaca with a golden wedge, which was destined to sink into the earth without any effort at their final place of residence, which was Cuzco

Cuzco is the centre of a network of spirit-paths (cerques), that radiate across the landscape.

(More about Cuzco)

 
 

Machu Pichu - This Pre-Columbian Inca mountain citadel was only rediscovered in 1911. It shows several strong indications of astronomical observation. The structures are built from white granite, with blocks reaching up to 3.7 metres in length.

Location of the famous Intihuatana stone, also called "The Hitching Point of the Sun" because it was believed to hold the sun in its place along its annual path in the sky. At midday on March 21 and September 21, the equinoxes, the sun stands almost above the pillar—casting no shadow at all.

Skeletal remains show a 10:1 ratio of females to males. (3)

(More about Machu Pichu)

 
 

Nazca - Probably the best known example of landscape design in the ancient world. These drawings in the desert have prompted much debate and wonder since their discovery.

The Nazca valley is a strip of level desert ground 37 miles long and a mile wide. The enormous drawings were made by removing the dark granite pebbles which cover the floor, and exposing the light yellow sand below. The drawings were first confirmed when commercial airlines began flights over the Andes. They are clear enough to have been viewed by astronauts aboard Skylab, orbiting 270 miles above Earth.

There are essentially two kinds of drawings at Nazca; Those that are Zoomorphic  in nature (left), and the larger geometric ones, some of which run into the surrounding hills. The purpose of these designs is still unknown, although astronomy and a form of ritual worship is suspected.

(More about Nazca)

 
 

Ollantaytambo (Ollantiatambo) - A Pre-Inca fortress, with rock walls of tightly fitted blocks weighing between 150 and 250 tons each. Most of the blocks are andesite, the quarries for which are situated on a mountain-top seven miles distant. As well as the difficulties  experienced in dressing the stones, they had to be lowered down one mountain, over a river canyon with 1000 ft sheer rock walls, then raised up the mountain the complex is situated on.

The six Porphyry stones (right), are some of the largest at the site, they weigh approximately 50 tons each.  One of the stones has the remains of a 'stepped -lozenge' motif on its face. The same (horizontal) motif is also found in Tiahuanaco.

(More about Ollantaytambo)

 
 

Sacsayhuaman - Located on the outskirts of the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco. Sacsayhuaman rests on an artificially levelled mountaintop, and consists of three outer lines of gargantuan walls, 1,500 ft long and 54 ft wide, surrounding a paved area containing a circular stone structure believed to be a solar calendar. The ruins also include a 500,000 gallon water reservoir, storage cisterns, ramps, citadels and underground chambers.

The stone blocks weigh from between 50 tons to over 300 tons. Common to many prehistoric examples of masonry, all the blocks were fitted together so precisely that a thickness gauge could not be inserted between them. A Block on the outer walls, has faces cut to fit perfectly with 12 other blocks. Other blocks were cut with as many as 36 sides.

(More about Sacsayhuaman)

 

 
   Peruvian Chronology:

Moseley (4), demonstrates that although the geographical region of Peru has been occupied since the 'Lithic period' (c. 8,000 B.C.), the foundations of civilisation do not appear until much later. However, recent discoveries have pushed his estimate of human occupation back to 10,000 B.C. (8)

 

Article: ScienceDaily (May 23, 2011) : 'South America's Oldest Textiles Identified With Carbon Dating'.

'Textiles and rope fragments found in a Peruvian cave have been dated to around 12,000 years ago, making them the oldest textiles ever found in South America, according to a report in the April issue of Current Anthropology'                  

(Link to Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com )

Article: ABC News (Dec, 2010): '12,000 Year Old Mine Found in Peru'.

'Archaeologists from the University of Chile have discovered a 12,000-year-old iron oxide mine in the north of the country. Researchers say it is the oldest mine discovered in all the Americas. Chief researcher Diego Salazar said the iron oxide was used by Huentelauquen Indians as a pigment in dying cloth and in religious rituals. the mine was exploited heavily between around 10,000 BC and 2,000 BC. It yielded over the millennia a total of 2,000 tons of pigment extracted from 700 cubic metres of rock. Researchers also found a treasure trove of stone and conch mining tools in the area. "We've found more than 1,000 hammers ... but considering the amount of material we have yet to sift through, the real number could rise to several thousands," archaeologist Hernan Salinas said. Before this find, the oldest mine in the Americas was 2,500 years old and located in the United States'. (8)

(More about Prehistoric Mining)

 

The 'Inca' Origin Myth.

The oral tradition of the Inca stated that the creator, called Viracocha, had caused the sun to emerge from the waters of Lake Titicaca. He then went to the ancient lakeside metropolis of Tiahuanaco, which had been formerly inhabited by a race of giants. There he gathered primordial clay and modelled animals and people. The creator ordered the people to descend deep into the earth and mountains and then to emerge separately from different caves, springs, lakes and hills in different homelands.

According to some stories, the founder of the Inca royal family, Manco Capac, along with his three brothers and four sisters, emerged from Titicaca, while in other versions they emerged from a cave southeast of the Rio Huantanay. Gathering a small following, the siblings set off in search of a place to settle. Following a long and adventurous journey, several of the brothers become embedded in stone or entombed in mountains. Eventually, Manco Capac and his sister/wife arrived near the spot where the Rio Tullamayo joins the Huantanay. Here the founder plunged his 'golden staff' into the soil to test it. Finding it auspicious, they established a settlement there which would become the Coricanha. After founding Cuzco and establishing a family, Manco Capac turned to stone. This ancestral stone became one of the Incas' most sacred objects or 'Huacas'. (4)

 

(More about the Sechin Complex)

An intensive study of the Viru Valley on the North coast, showed a cultural sequence going back to 2,500 BC (1).

When Pizarro (and his force of only 260 Spanish mercenaries) conquered Peru in 1532, the Inca realm was one of the largest empires on earth, but it had already been preceded by the Chavin, Moche, Nazca, Tiwanaku, Huari and Himu civilisations.

The 'Inca' refers only to a small group of kindred, less than 40,000 individuals, who built the great Andean state by force of arms, and who ruled as the realms governing nobility. At the height of their empire, their rule extended to over 10 million people. These individuals were Inca subjects, but they were not Incas because they were a closed ethnic body. (4)

 

Extreme Peruvian Masonry

At Torontoy, one of the smaller sites clustered around Machu Pichu, there is a stone with 40 angles between the sides. (3).

The Inca were able to create citadels such as Mach Pichu, Cutting through granite, with intricate block-work, yet no tools have been found that explain how.

The Quartz beads in the picture on the left were discovered on a Peruvian mummy. The beads are so small that it was claimed we were unable to reproduce the holes that were 'originally drilled' through them, with current technology (1970's). A remarkable achievements, regardless.

(Other examples of extreme masonry)

 

 

   List and Description of Peruvian Stites:

In 1964, aerial photography identified nearly 1,000 pyramid sites in Peru (1)

Caral   Earliest American City-complex at 2,600 BC
Chankillo   Landscape Observatory from 300 BC
Chavin Du Huantar  
Centre of the 'Chavin' culture.
Cuzco  
The Inca 'Navel of the Earth'.
Gate of the Gods   Bas-relief carved rock 'gateway'.
Machu Pichu.
  Isolated Mountain 'Citadel'.
Nazca   Inca Desert Drawings.
Ollantaytambo    Pre-Inca 'Walled-City'.
Sacsayhuaman.
  The Giant Walled Fortress Above Cuzco
The Sechin Complex   Complex dating back to 3,500 BC.

 

Underground tunnels.

Peruvian Andes, Huascaran, 22,203 ft high, near the village of Otuzco. 

Cave entrances closed with slabs of rock. First recorded by Francis Pizzaro (1478-1541). An expedition was organised in 1971, an account of which was given in the periodical ‘Bild der Wissenschaft’.

Vast tunnels which would leave even modern underground constructors green with envy began behind six ‘doors’. These tunnels lead straight towards the coast, at times with a slope of 14 per cent. The floor is covered with stone slabs that have been pitted and grooved to make them slip-proof. It is an adventure even today to penetrate these 55 to 65 mile-long transport tunnels in the direction of the coast and finally reach a spot 80 ft below sea level. The great ocean lurks at the end of the underground passage of ‘Guanape’, so called after the island that lies off the coast of Peru here, because it is assumed that the passages once led under the sea to the island. After the passages have gone uphill and downhill several times, and after a downhill slope, they end in ocean water". (18)

(Other Underground Structures)

 

(Pre-Columbian America Homepage)

 

References:

1). D. Zink. The Ancient Stones Speak. 1979. Musson Book Co.
2). John. D. Baldwin. Pre-Historic Nations. 1869. Harper and Brothers.
3). The atlas of mysterious places. Guild publishing. 1987.
4). M. Moseley. The Incas and their Ancestors. Thames and Hudson. 1994
8). http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-12-06/12000-year-old-mine-found-in-chile/2363962
18). E. Von Daniken. According to the evidence. Corgi. 1997.
 
 
 

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