Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Inca Remnants All Over Cuzco

15 December 2015

It turns out that much of the stonework in Cuzco is from Inca buildings that were here some 500-600 years ago.  


At first it seems unbelievable.  How can stone blocks stacked on top of each other survive over five hundred years?  Especially given the battles between the Inca and the Spanish?  Then the wars for independence?  And the twenty year Reign of Terror?  Plus all the earthquakes that occur in this region, which have damaged many of the Spanish colonial buildings??  How can random Inca walls survive all those years????

One of the key elements in identifying Inca stonework is the rectangular blocks of stone that fit together so closely, there's no need for cement.  They really are amazing.  And, it has been speculated, the lack of cement allows the stone blocks to shift and move with the tremors of earthquakes without toppling the walls!  What seems to be a lack of stability actually makes these ancient walls stronger!!!

Also, doors and windows were shaped like trapezoids.  And some have a weird optical illusion where they seem to narrow as you walk in, and narrow again as you walk out.  Haven't seen any of these illusion type of entrances in Cuzco, but there are definitely some of the trapezoid openings!  Both doors and windows!

Plus many of the walls have a tilt, slanting inwards.  At a similar angle to the trapezoid openings.

We went to our bank today, and I asked one of the guards if the walls were Inca.  Yes, he replied.  The royal palace of Prince (and later Sapa Inca) Tupac Inca Yupanqui.  From the 15th century!  The inside of the ATM room had the trapezoid windows high on the walls, and there were even two rooms with Inca tools that were found when the structure was converted to the modern bank.

The church of Santo Domingo is also the Koricancha, the Inca sun temple.  We can see a somewhat circular tower-like structure at the back of the church, similar to the Torreon at Machu Picchu, part of the sun temple.  The Spanish went ahead and just built right on top of buildings of conquered people, both saving themselves some work as well as symbolizing their superior power.  (And maybe their perception of superior religion?  Beliefs?  Intelligence?  Who knows.)

Wandering around is an archaeologist's dream, just seeing all these layers of civilization.  Absolutely amazing.  (With a dig or two going on in the center of town.)

So here are some photos of the Inca remnants, and I've included a time sequence from "Turn Right At Machu Picchu" by Mark Adams:

A chronology:

Ca. 1200 – Founding of what became the Inca dynasty.

1438 – Pachacutec becomes Sapa Inca and begins his territorial expansion.  He launches a massive building program, which will include the consruction of Machu Picchu, the Koricancha sun temple in Cuzco, and the Capac Ñan.

1492 – Christopher Columbus lands at what is now the Bahamas.

1513 – Balboa sees the Pacific Ocean.

1519 – Cortes conquers the Aztec Empire in Mexico.

1522 – A Spanish explorer reports the existence of a land known as Biru, later called Peru.

1527 – First meeting between Francisco Pizarro and the Incas takes place in northern Peru.

1527-28 – Emperor Huayna Capac dies unexpectedly.  His son Huascar takes over but is opposed by another of Huayna Capac’s sons, Atahualpa.  Five years of civil war ensue.

1532 – Atahualpa wins the Inca civil war.  Pizarro captures Atahualpa, who offers a huge ransom for his freedom.  [A room filled once with gold then twice with silver.]

1533 – Atahualpa is executed.  Manco is crowned Sapa Inca by Pizarro.

1536 – Manco leads an attack against the Spaniards in Cuzco.

1537 – Manco flees his rebel headquarters at Ollantaytambo for Vitcos.  When Vitcos is sacked by the Spaniards, he escapes to the new jungle capital of Vilcabamba.

1539 – Vilcabamba is sacked for the first time.  Manco’s queen Cura Ocllo is executed by Pizarro.

1541 – Francisco Pizarro is murdered in Lima.

1544 – Manco Inca is murdered by Spanish refugees at Vitcos.  He is succeeded by his sons Sayri Tupac and Titu Cusi.

1570 – Spanish friars burn the temple complex near the White Rock of Vitcos.

1572 – The Spaniards declare war on the rebel Inca state.  Vilcabamba is sacked and burned for a second time.  Tupac Amaru, the last Inca emperor, is captured in the jungle and returned to Cuzco, where he is executed in the Plaza de Armas.

1781 – Would be revolutionary Tupac Amaru II is executed in Cuzco.

1800s – French explorers visit Choquequiroa, sparking the legend that it is the site of Vilcabamba. 

1847 – William Prescott publishes The Conquest of Peru.

1895 – A new mule road is completed alongside the Urubamba River, passing below Machu Picchu.

1906-07 – Hiram Bingham makes his first visit to South America, through Venezuela and Colombia.

1908-09 – Bingham attends a scientific conference in Chile, and stays on to make his initial visit to Peru, including Cuzco.  He visits the ruins of Choquequirao, believed by some to be Vilcabamba, the Lost City of the Incas.

1911 – Bingham leads the summer Yale Peruvian Expedition, discovers Machu Picchu, Vitcos, and Espiritu Pampa.  He leaves Peru uncertain if he has actually found Vilcabamba.

1912 – Bingham returns to Peru, cosponsored by Yale and the National Geographic Society.

1913 – The publication of Bingham’s first National Geographic story makes stars of both Machu Picchu and its discovered.  Bingham begins to formulate his theory that Machu Picchu is Vilcabamba, the Lost City of the Incas.

1914-15 – Bingham’s third trip to Peru, during which he finds the Inca Trail.  He leaves under a cloud of suspicion.

1948 – Bingham publishes Lost City of the Incas, makes a final return trip to Machu Picchu.

1956 – Bingham dies.

1964 – Gene Savoy explores Espiritu Pampa, uncovers new evidence that it is the true Vilcabamba.

1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark is released, raising questions about which real-life explorers inspired Indiana Jones.

1982 – Yale researches Richard Burger and Lucy Salazar publish their theory that Machu Picchu had been the royal estate of Pachacutec.  [Note – these are the people who were featured on the video at the Machu Picchu museum.)

2008 – Paolo Greer publishes his article “Machu Picchu Before Bingham,” which concludes that the prospector Augusto Berns likely looted Machu Picchu’s artefacts long before Bingham arrived.

2011 – 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s first trip to Machu Picchu.

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