Every day tourists from the world over admire the
remarkable Incan masonry of what remains of the monument today, the
megaliths too large for the Spaniards to mine them for their
building projects in the city below.
Sacsayhuamán (also known as Sacsahuaman) is a walled complex near
the old city of Cusco, at an altitude of 3,701 m. or 12,000 feet.
The site is part of the City of Cuzco, which was added to the UNESCO
World Heritage List in 1983.
Sacsayhuamán. Click to view full size Image. Image Source:
The archaeological park is located north of the city of Cuscoco
and covers an area of 3,094
hectares. It contains more than 200 archaeological sites. Leading to Saqsaywaman there are two paved roads, one starts in the old and
traditional neighbourhood of San Cristobal and is about 1.5
kilometers long and the other road begins at Avenida Collasuyo and
is 4 kilometers long.
Spanish conquerors arrived first to these lands; they could not
explain themselves how Peruvian "Indians" (ignorant, wild,
without any ability of logical reasoning, one more animal species
according to conquerors) could have built such a greatness. Their
religious fanaticism led them to believe that all that was simply
work of demons or malign spirits. Still today, many people believe
in the inability of ancient Quechuas to create such a wonder, so
they suggest that they were made by beings of some other worlds,
extraterrestrial beings with superior technology that made all that
possible. However, our history and archaeology demonstrate that
those objects of admiration are an undeniable work of the Incas,
Quechuas, Andean people or however pre-Hispanic inhabitants of this
corner of the world would be named.
The imperial city Cusco, meaning ‘navel of the
earth,’ was laid out in the form of a puma, the animal that
symbolized the Inca dynasty. The belly of the puma was the main
plaza, the river Tullumayo formed its spine, and the hill of
Sacsayhuaman its head.
One of the most imposing architectonic complexes
inherited from the Incan Society is Sacsayhuaman, which
because of several of its qualities is considered as one of the best
monuments that mankind built on the earth's surface.
The wall or rampart is the most impressive section,
built with enormous carved limestone boulders, this construction has
a broken line that faces to the main plaza called Chuquipampa which
is a slope with 25 angles and 60 walls.The biggest carved boulder of
the first wall weighs about 70 tons and like all of the other rocks
was brought from a quarry called Sisicancha, three kilometers away
and where there are still rocks that were transported part of the
way. Each wall is made up of 10 fronts with the most important ones
known as Rumipunco, tiupunku, Achuanpunku and Viracocha punku.
of Sacsayhuaman - the teeth of the Puma's Head
Click on each image below to enlarge:
Click on each image to enlarge. Copyright by World-Mysteries.com
Originally there were three "walls" or
"bulwarks" which foundations are still seen today; they
are the most spectacular remains of that fabulous building that
according to chroniclers did not have any comparison in the old
world. They are three parallel walls built in different levels with
lime-stones of enormous sizes; zigzagging walls that because of their
appearance it is suggested that they represent the "teeth"
of the puma's head that the complex represented. The boulders used
for the first or lower levels are the biggest; there is one that is
8.5 m high (28 ft.) and weights about 140 metric tons. Those
boulders classify the walls as being of cyclopean or megalithic
architecture. Some authors believe that the three walls represent
the three levels of the Andean Religious World: beginning from the
bottom would be the Ukju Pacha (underground stage), the Kay Pacha
(earth's surface stage) in the middle, and the Hanan Pacha (sky
stage) on the top. Besides; those levels are identified with their
three sacred animals: the Amaru or Mach'aqway (snake), the Puma
(Cougar or Mountain Lion), and the Kuntur (Andean condor). Because
of the zigzagging shape of the walls, some authors suggest that they
represented the Illapa god (thunder, lightning and thunderbolt). It
is possible that all the previous elements related to their religion
would not be excluding, because there are divine interactions, and
as it is known "three" was a key number among Quechuas.
There are no other walls like these. They are
different from Stonehenge, different from the Pyramids of the
Egyptians and the Maya, different from any of the other ancient
The stones fit so perfectly that no blade of grass
or steel can slide between them. There is no mortar. They often join
in complex and irregular surfaces that would appear to be a
nightmare for the stonemason.
Scientists speculate that the masonry process might
have worked like this: after carving the desired shape out of the
first boulder and fitting it in place, the masons would somehow
suspend the second boulder on scaffolding next to the first one.
They would then have to trace out a pattern on the second boulder in
order to plan the appropriate jigsaw shape that would fit the two
together. In order to make a precise copy of the first boulder's
edges, the masons might have used a straight stick with a hanging plum- bob
to trace its edges and mark off exact points for carving on the
second boulder. After tracing out the pattern, they would sculpt the
stone into shape, pounding it with hand-sized stones to get the
general shape before using finger-size stones for precision sanding.
Admittedly, this entire technique is merely scientific speculation.
The method might have worked in practice but that doesn't mean this
is how the ancient Quechua stonemasons did it.
There is usually neither adornment nor inscription. There is Elfin
whimsy here, as well as raw, primitive and mighty expression.
these walls are found around Cusco and the Urubamba River Valley in
the Peruvian Andes. There a few scattered examples elsewhere in the
Andes, but almost nowhere else on Earth.
Mostly, the structures are beyond our ken. The how, why and what
simply baffle. Modern man can neither explain nor duplicate. Mysteries like this bring out explanations scholarly, whimsical,
inventive and ridiculous.
What is left from the three walls is made with lime-stones that in
this case were used just in order to built the bases or foundations.
The main walls were made with andesites that are blackish igneous
stones which quarries are in Waqoto on the mountains north of San
Jeronimo, or in Rumiqolqa about 35 Kms. (22 miles) from the city.
Limestones are found in the surroundings of Sacsayhuaman but they are
softer and can not be finely carved as the andesites of the main
walls that were of the "Sedimentary or Imperial Incan"
type. Destruction of Sacsayhuaman lasted about 400 years; since 1536
when Manko Inka began the war against Spaniards and sheltered
himself in this complex. Later the first conquerors started using
its stones to built their houses in the city; subsequently the
city's Church Council ordered in 1559 to take the andesites for the
construction of the Cathedral. Even until 1930, Qosqo's neighbours just paying a small fee could take the amount of stones they wanted
in order to build their houses in the city: four centuries of
destruction using this complex as a quarry by the colonial city's
Sacsayhuaman was supposedly completed around 1508. Depending on
who you listen to, it took a crew of 20,000 to 30,000 men working
for 60 years.
Here is a mystery:
The chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega was born around 1530, and raised
in the shadow of these walls. And yet he seems not to have had a
clue as to how Sacsayhuaman was built. He wrote:
"....this fortress surpasses the constructions known as the
seven wonders of the world. For in the case of a long broad wall
like that of Babylon, or the colossus of Rhodes, or the pyramids of
Egypt, or the other monuments, one can see clearly how they were
executed...how, by summoning an immense body of workers and
accumulating more and more material day by day and year by year,
they overcame all difficulties by employing human effort over a long
period. But it is indeed beyond the power of imagination to
understand now these Indians, unacquainted with devices, engines,
and implements, could have cut, dressed, raised, and lowered great
rocks, more like lumps of hills than building stones, and set them
so exactly in their places. For this reason, and because the Indians
were so familiar with demons, the work is attributed to enchantment."
Surely a few of those 20,000 labourers were still around when
Garcilaso was young. Was everyone struck with amnesia? Or is Sacsayhuaman
much older than we've been led to believe?
Archaeologists tell us that the walls of Sacsayhuaman
rose ten feet higher than their remnants. That additional ten feet
of stones supplied the building materials for the cathedrals and
"casas" of the conquistadors.
It is generally conceded that these stones were much smaller than
those megalithic monsters that remain.
Perhaps the upper part of the walls, constructed of small,
regularly-shaped stones was the only part of Sacsayhuaman that was
built by the Incas and "finished in 1508." This could
explain why no one at the time of the conquest seemed to know how
those mighty walls were built.
Garcilaso de la Vega
One of the chroniclers who knew and wrote about Saxsayhuaman was
Garcilaso de la Vega. He was born on April 12, 1539, in Cuzco, Perú,
the illegitimate son of Spaniard Sebastian Garcilaso de la Vega, and
an Incan princess. Garcilaso de la Vega wrote La Florida del Inca,
the account of Hernando de Soto's expeditions north of Mexico, and
Comentarios Reales de Los Incas.
Garcilaso de la Vega reported that he personally knew that
Saxsayhuaman had three towers. Excavations in 1934 demonstrated the
veracity and reliability of the chronicler's account. He pointed out
that the Spanish called Saxsayhuaman a fortress and that in
actuality it was a Royal House of the Sun. He wrote, "la fortaleza
era casa del sol" ("the fortress was a House of the sun") and "los
de otros naciones no podían entrar la fortaleza, porque era casa del
sol" ("those of other nations were not able to enter the fortress,
because it was a house of the sun"). Inca Garcilaso de la Vega wrote
"The largest and most magnificent work which they
ordered built to demonstrate their power and majesty was the
fortress of Cuzco, the magnitude of which is incredible to those
who have not seen it, and those who have seen and looked with
attention it makes them imagine and even believe that it its
greatness is made by way of enchantment and was made by devils and
not men, because the multitude of so many stones of such great
size, such as those placed in three terraces (which are more so
than stones), cause admiration in imagining how they could be cut
from the quarries from which they were taken...
"...many of them are so fitted that the joint hardly
shows, and to think how they could fit stones so immense so well
that you can scarcely insert the point of a knife between them..."
Pedro de Cieza de Leon referred to a Royal
House of the Sun to the north of Cuzco, undoubtable Saxsayhuaman,
built by Pachacutec. According to chronicler Diego Esquival y Navia,
writing in his Noticias Cronológicas de la Gran Ciudad de Cuzco,"the
construction took 77 years and was completed in 1508. It has been
estimated that some 30,000 workers were employed at one time in the
monument's construction. In 1559 the mining of the ruin to build the
cathedral and other buildings in Cuzco began. Several years later
Antonio de Gama stopped the practice.
Did you know?
The largest Inca polygonal masonry block
forms the corner of the saw-tooth wall of the lower terrace and
weigh in at over 120 metric tons, by the most conservative estimate,
360 tons liberal estimate. Height is over 27 feet.
Garcilaso wrote that on the top of the three "walls" or
"bulwarks" there were three strong towers disposed in a
triangle. The main tower was in the middle and had a circular shape,
it was named as Moyoc Marca (Muyuq Marka), the second one was named
as Paucar Marca, and the third Sacllar Marca (Sallaq Marka); the
last two ones were rectangular.
This is the remaining base of a tower discovered in 1934 at the
top of the Temple of Sacsayhuaman. The Muyuqmarka consists of three
concentric, circular stone walls connected by a series of radial
walls. There are three channels constructed to bring water into what
many scientists consider to be a reservoir. A web-like pattern of 34 lines
intersects at the center and also there is a pattern of concentric
circles that corresponded to the location of the circular walls.
According to Indian legend, Cusco was so barren that
no crops could be grown there. In what is now the center of the
city, there was a lake and a bog. The second Inca, Sinchi Roca, had
the swamp drained and filled with stones and logs until it was firm
enough to support their stone buildings. He also had thousands of
loads of good earth brought in and spread over the land, making the
valley fertile. What could possibly have been the attraction of this
barren, boggy place? Suppose the magnificent lower walls of Sacsayhuaman
were there before Manco Capac came to Cusco. That in
itself would be enough to make the place holy.
The imperial city Cusco, meaning ‘navel of the earth,’ was
laid out in the form of a puma, the animal that symbolized the Inca
dynasty. The belly of the puma was the main plaza, the river
Tullumayo formed its spine, and the hill of Sacsayhuaman its head.
According to one early Spanish chronicler, the Inca emperor
Pachakuti, who had made a pilgrimage to the ancient holy city of
Tiahuanaco, sought to emulate the building perfection he had seen
there in the construction of Cusco’s temples. Cusco, however, was
not really a city in the European sense of the word. Rather it was
an enormous sacred artifact, the dwelling place of the families of
the Inca nobility (common people were not allowed entrance to the
ceremonial nexus), and the center of the Inca cosmos.
In Cusco too, was the most important temple in the Inca empire,
the Coricancha (meaning literally, "the corral of gold").
Dedicated primarily to Viracocha, the creator god, and Inti, the Sun
god, the Coricancha also had subsidiary shrines to the Moon, Venus,
the Pleiades, and various weather deities. Additionally there were a
large number of religious icons of conquered peoples which had been
brought to Cusco, partly in homage and partly as hostage. Reports by
the first Spanish who entered Cusco tell that ceremonies were
conducted around the clock at the Coricancha and that its opulence
was fabulous beyond belief.
- Inca Sun Temple. Finest of Inca stonework. ^
Enclosure in Coricancha sheltered
INTI Sun God & Gold Disk (1430-1532). >
The wonderfully carved granite walls of
the temple were covered with more than 700 sheets of pure gold,
weighing around two kilograms each; the spacious courtyard was
filled with life-size sculptures of animals and a field of corn, all
fashioned from pure gold; the floors of the temple were themselves
covered in solid gold; and facing the rising sun was a massive
golden image of the sun encrusted with emeralds and other precious
stones. (All of this golden artwork was quickly stolen and melted
down by the Spaniards, who then built a church of Santo Domingo on
The Coricancha (sometimes spelled Qoricancha) was also the
centerpiece of a vast astronomical observatory and calendrical
device for precisely calculating precessional movement. Emanating
from the temple were forty lines called seques, running
arrow-straight for hundreds of miles to significant celestial points
on the horizon. Four of these seques represented the four
intercardinal roads to the four quarters of Tawantinsuyu, others
pointed to the equinox and solstice points, and still others to the
heliacal rise positions of different stars and constellations highly
important to the Inca.
In the outskirts of Cusco, exactly opposite to Sacsayhuaman is
Rodadero, a giant rock hill with numerous stairwells and benches
carved into the rock
Throne of the Inca
The rock is
smooth and rounded, like it was polished by a glacier.
Rodadero hill is made up of diorite rock of igneous
origin, where you can find waterways, carved rocks and what has been
revealed to be the so-called throne of the Incas that is accessed by
a series of precisely carved stairs. Behind this section there are
small labyrinths, tunnels and vaulted niches in the walls.
Kolata's book shows how, contrary to their
implicit racism, the indigenous people of the Titicaca basin
were more than ingenious enough to come up with ways to construct
major monuments, carve incredible fantastic stone
sculptures, and make the high arid plain of the altiplano
bloom with potatoes, tubers and quinoa. These people had
indoor plumbing and public sewage systems 1500 years ago!
The Tiwanaku is a bit simplistic and general for the Andean
or archaeological specialist; it is more appropriate for the
first year University student or educated layman.
Nonetheless, it brings together the current general state of
knowledge about this important civilization in a highly
A millennium before the Incas built their
empire, the city of Tiahuanaco sat at the center of a great
empire of its own. Located on Lake Titicaca, the world's
highest at 13,000 feet, in what is now Bolivia, at the very
limits of agriculture, the people of Tiahuanaco developed an
ingenious system of cultivation based on raised planting
beds alternating with trenches that served as irrigation
ditches. From A.D. 400 to 800, the temples of Tiahuanaco
glittered with gold and the empire supported as many as
250,000 people. Kolata, who has spent more than 17 years
excavating the empire's ruins, weaves together the story of
Tiahuanaco and the region's modern inhabitants, the Aymara.
Household archaeology, together with community
and regional settlement information, forms the basis for a
unique local perspective of Andean prehistory in this study
of the evolution of the site of Lukurmata, a pre-Columbian
community in highland Bolivia. First established nearly two
thousand years ago, Lukurmata grew to be a major ceremonial
center in the Tiwanaku state, a polity that dominated the
south-central Andes from a.d. 400 to 1200. After the
Tiwanaku state collapsed, Lukurmata rapidly declined,
becoming once again a small village. In his analysis of a
1300-year-long sequence of house remains at Lukurmata, Marc
Bermann traces patterns and changes in the organization of
domestic life, household ritual, ties to other communities,
and mortuary activities, as well as household adaptations to
overarching political and economic trends. Prehistorians
have long studied the processes of Andean state formation,
expansion, and decline at the regional level, notes Bermann.
Is it possible that intelligent life forms
visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them
technology that drastically affected the course of history
and man s own development? Presented in the 1968 bestselling
book Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken, the theory
of ancient aliens rocked people s beliefs in mankind s
progress. Ancient cave drawings of strange creatures,
remains of landing strips in Peru, and Indian texts that
describe the flying machines of the gods were just a few of
the odd archaeological artifacts cited by von Daniken as
proof that ancient astronauts were well known to our
ancestors. Produced with the exclusive cooperation of von
Daniken himself, Ancient Aliens launches all-new expeditions
to seek out and evaluate this evidence, with a concentration
on the latest discoveries of the last 30 years, including
unusual DNA findings on man s evolution and newly decoded
artifacts from Egypt to Syria to South America. It is a
balanced investigation into a theory some believe cannot be
true, but many agree cannot be ignored.
this book, Protzen describes and interprets the
archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo, discovers temporal
and functional links among its components, uncovers the
planning and design criteria that governed its layout and architecture, and compiles all that has been written about
It is a modern-day mystery how the Inca, who did not
have iron tools or knowledge of the wheel, mined and
transported stones and dressed and fitted them in remarkable
structures. Jean-Pierre Protzen has spent much of the past
decade investigating the quarrying and stonecutting
techniques of the Inca, and problems of Inca construction
practices. His work is based principally on observation,
careful measurements of structures, and experiments using
stones and tools the Inca stonemasons would have used.
Ollantaytambo, probably the best-preserved Inca town, offers
an ideal laboratory with its well-thought-out site plans,
its intimate integration of the built form with the natural
environment, the unity of its architecture, and the sheer
perfection of its cut-stone masonry. Offering the only
extensive analysis of Inca construction practices, Protzen
describes and interprets the archaeological complex of
Ollantaytambo, discovers temporal and functional links among
its components, uncovers the planning and design criteria
that governed its layout and architecture, and compiles all
that has been written about the site.
Step by step, Sullivan pieces
together the hidden esoteric tradition of the Andes to
uncover the tragic secret of the Incas, a tribe who believed
that, if events in the heavens could influence those on
earth, perhaps the reverse could be true. Anyone who reads
this book will never look at the ruins of the Incas, or at
the night sky, the same way again. Illustrations. (Note:
This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition
of this title.)
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archaeologist and authorJonathan Gray has traveled the world
to gather data on ancient mysteries. He has penetrated some
largely unexplored areas, including parts of the Amazon
headwaters. The author has also led expeditions to the bottom
of the sea and to remote mountain and desert regions of the
world. He lectures internationally.
"Dead Men's Secrets" by Jonathan Gray is 373 pages
of discovering ancient technology and lost secrets.
Do not miss his new books that followed "Dead Men's Secrets":
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