More Things You Don´t Know About Machu Picchu

14 08 2012

Are the Most Famous Ruins in Peru Older Than we are Told?

“Machu Picchu was built between the 13th and 14th century,” Ariel, my guide tells me.

Official views state the plans for the settlement began in the 11th century. Other mainstream archaeologists believe the city was built in the mid 15th century by Pachacuti Yupanqui, the ninth Inca King who was focused on expanding the empire all the way to what is now modern day Argentina at the tip of South America. Supporting evidence shows that building work was never finished which has lead some scholars to speculate the Inca was interrupted by the Spanish invasion in 1532.

Mainstream scholars also speculate that Machu Picchu was used as the retreat the Inca used to rebuild and plan a rebellion against the Francisco Pizarro’s conquistadores. The likelihood id the Spanish never found Machu Picchu, which is why it is the only ancient ruins in Peru that remains in a reasonable condition. The last Inca King, Tupac Amaru Yupanqui was not defeated until 1572.  If Machu Picchu had been the Inca hiding place they would have had time to finish building it.

That’s not to say that would have been the case. Contrary to popular belief the Inca were not great builders. They adopted techniques learned from other cultures and perfected them, but the only time the Inca tried to build something of their own, a boulder was dropped down the mountain and wiped out over 2000 workmen. The project was subsequently abandoned.

To build Machu Picchu, there is evidence to show the stones were taken from the site. Huge boulders within the grounds of the complex have clearly been stripped and researchers believe the fragments could only have been used to build the city. It is known the Inca had the techniques to carry out this type of work, but so did other cultures.

Rolf Muller, professor of Astrology at the University of Potsdam, found convincing evidence to suggest that the most important features of Machu Picchu possessed significant astronomical alignments that were attuned to the precession of the equinoxes. Given the positioning of these features Muller concluded the original layout of the site was therefore built between 4000BC to 2000BC.

Maria Schulten de D’Ebneth concurred with Muller’s finding and by also using mathematical methods established Machu Picchu was built before the time of the Inca. Based on her measurements she determined the city had been built in 3172 BCE.

Andean legends also talks about a place in the mountains known as Tampu-Tocco, the Haven of the Three Windows. It is here that Viracocha is said to have sent the four Ayar brothers and three of the brothers emerged through the windows to civilize the Andean region. One of the brothers, Ayar Manco, otherwise known as Manco Capac founded the Ancient Empire thousands of years before the Inca. According to Inca legends, Manco Capac was is the first Inca King.

Llamas at Machu Picchu

I´m lost…

Those of you already familiar with Inca religion will know the Llama was sacred to the Andean cultures and were often used as a sacrifice to Pachamama (Mother Earth). The Inca also used to bind their wooden store houses and thatched roofs with the skin of the Llama which is surprisingly coarse and strong, but firmer than a bit of old rope.

In honour of the Llama, the animal is represented at Machu Picchu today. In fact there are 16 Llamas living here and draw the attention of tourist’s cameras. They start the day on a patch of lawn at the far end of the settlement which would have originally have been used as a market place where the inhabitants of the city traded goods.

The Llamas though are unpenned and untied, left to roam freely as they wish. They are perfectly harmless and docile, but as the day wears on can be found just about anywhere; and in the most unusual places. Imagine my surprise to find one on the narrow path ¾ of the way up to the Sun Gate. It looked at me as if to say, “Hey, are you lost as well?”

Later that afternoon two of them forced me from my resting place in the shade of a overhanging rock. I was sheltering from the glaring heat of the sun jotting down notes and having both relieved themselves in front of a small group of American girls (which caused typical reactions of (disgust that I found amusing) they came over to where I was laid and started chewing the grass either side of me (the llamas, not the American girls). This was not so amusing, especially as they were so close I could still smell remains of deposits they had dropped off with the girls. It was a surreal moment and almost made me vomit. I thought I’d better move before they started chewing my jacket.

The Archetypes Designed in Machu Picchu

High in the Andes Mountains Machu Picchu would become known as the most famous Inca sanctuary. Designed by a team of architects made up of priests and astronomers the already impressive architecture is even more stunning when you learn of the archetypes you find in the building

Do you see the Lizard in the main settlement..?

work. From the panoramic angle, which is also known as the postcard shot, the settlement takes the shape of a lizard, representing Amaru Tupac, who was given the nickname “Flying Lizard.”

In the rock face of Wayna Picchu you can see the face of an angry Puma. In fact the whole mountain rock take the form of a gigantic Puma with its back curved and in a pose of attack. On top of the mountain the narrow terraces used as watch towers by guards and store houses for agricultural produce represent raised heckles.

Looking down on Machu Picchu from this standpoint you can see the city takes the shape of a condor which has lead some authorities of the Quechua language to speculate the original name of the complex was Machu Pichiu, which means “Old Bird.”

Just below Wayna Picchu is another rock formation which takes the form of a Condor. Whether this is natural or done by design is open for speculation, but, unlike many shapes cut into the rocks by the Inca archaeologists try to pass off as natural rock formations simply because they don’t have an answer for how the shape was carved, this one really does appear to be a natural formation. Perhaps even the reason why the Inca chose this site to build a city.

The mountain Condor at Machu Picchu

In the area known as the Hanan sector which was dedicated to government administration we also find the layout of a Puma, this time laid down in a state of relaxation. The entire city complex makes up the body of the animal whilst its head is seen in the green grass of high terraces at the far end. The terraces that cascade down the sides of the abyss to the form of its legs. Is this more evidence of space-age technology mainstream scholars deny was capable? It certainly shows an advanced ability for building – even for 15,000AD!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Visitors arriving at Machu Picchu from along the Inca trail will enter the site from the Sun Gate and be greeted by stunning views overlooking the city and surrounding areas. If you enter through the tourist’s reception by bus at the bottom, you can still make the climb along the narrow path up to the Sun Gate in about 45 minutes. It’s worth the effort for the view, but the Sun Gate is also the original entrance the Inca used to enter the site.

Since 2011, travellers hoping to tackle the Inca Trail may have trouble securing a permit due to new regulations imposed by the Peruvian government. Permits used to be issued on a first-come first-served basis, but tour operators are now being asked to stagger orders throughout

View from the Sun Gate

February and March. This could pose a problem to anybody thinking of a late booking at the back end of the year.

The regulations limit up to 500 people a day to walk the trail and with such fierce competition for permits, holidaymakers are advised not to leave it too late to confirm their booking or they are likely to miss out. Tour operators have bemoaned the new system as unfair and say it offers priority to individual tour operators at random.

I missed out on a permit, but only wanted to walk the last day anyway. I’m glad I did. At the sun gate I met an experienced climber from Australia and he said, even for him, it was a difficult hike, particularly the second day. The path is also very narrow in places and steep drops can put people off. If you don’t have a head for heights it’s not an ideal route to get you to Machu Picchu.

The Ancient Ruins of Ollantaytambo

8 08 2012

Ollantaytambo – the sibling of Machu Picchu

Built on approximately 600 hectares, the ruins of Ollantaytambo is one of Peru’s finest archaeological sites. During the time of the Inca it was more important than Machu Picchu built high up in the mountains 50km away. And just as with its more prominent sibling, the building work at Ollantaytambo stopped abruptly – and nobody seems to know why.

Dominating the hillside around the quaint village of the same name, the impressive settlement of Ollantaytambo served as a religious, agricultural, administrative and urban complex. The surrounding areas, rich in fertile soil meant the area was held with high regard by the Inca and subsequently reserved for agriculture and livestock. Yet the most important – and impressive – functions of the ruins are its astronomical features.

You have to look very carefully, but once you know they are there you can see several archetypes designed into the structure of Ollantaytambo. The least obvious is perhaps the llama, considered a sacred animal to the Inca and one they identified with in the Milky Way. My guide, Walter, traces it out for me. With its head at the Sun Temple, the terraces stretching along the side of the hill forms its body. The steps form its legs.

Do you see the Condor in the rock

A more noticeable archetype as you can see in the photograph to your left is the condor; it’s head and beak carved out of the mountainside and the plume of its colossal wings form part of the natural rock formation. Again once you know it’s there it is obvious to see. Walter points to an altar below the condors carved beak.

“This is where the Inca used to make sacrifices to Pachamama,” he tells me.  “In the shadow of the sun, the beak of the condor reaches down to the altar which is destined to serve him food.”

Walter is mild-mannered, in his early twenties and speaks with a pronounced accent. His dark, smooth skin sprouts strands of facial hair from his chin and upper lip and he wears a permanent smile. He parts his wealth of knowledge with enthusiasm and is clearly proud of his country´s heritage. And rightly so! The Inca and the Andean cultures that came before them had such a profound knowledge of astronomy they somehow measured to align it with their architecture.

Fountains and Astronomy at Ollantaytambo

It was no surprise for me to learn that the residents of the Ollantaytambo settlement were large numbers of high priests and other religious figures together with high-ranking administrative staff and nobility. As an astronomical centre we find exceptional displays of craftsmanship that highlights the Inca´s phenomenal knowledge of the Universe.

Water Temple and astronomical calendar

There are several key areas of the settlement that indicate the dates of the summer and winter solstices. This was the indicator for the Inca to plant their crops and when they were ready for harvest. A prime example of this is in the Water Temple, where a window has been built into the wall just above a solitary fountain.

“During the winter solstice on the 21st June, the sun shines directly on to the water,” Walters says smiling. “The Inca believed this would give the water fertility and flow into the field to help make the crops grow.”

The Ollantaytambo ruins are not just fascinating for its precision architecture, but also its sheer beauty. On first impressions it has the appearance of its famous neighbour, Machu Picchu. In addition, there are a series of fountains which served a number of functions; for bathing, cleaning clothes, and cleansing the body and mind.

A remarkable example of this, and one of the highlights at Ollayantambo, is the “banos de Nusta” – the purification showers where the King’s wife would have bathed. In the time of the Inca the area would have been private though is now out in the open, flowing uncovered with no apparent significance to its importance. Until you examine it closely and find the rock has the Andean Cross carved into its surface. Otherwise known as the Chakana, the Andean Cross is a very important symbol in Andean cultures and one which I will discuss in more depth in my next blog posting.

Also cut into the sides of the “Nusta” rock are two handles which would have allowed the Inca Queen to kneel in the fountain in a praying position. Andean cultures also used the four elements to help them meditate and water is deemed to wash away negative thoughts and restore balance to body and mind. Another interesting feature of the Queen’s fountain is you can slow down the flow of water simply by running your finger across the top edge of the stone. To increase the water flow, tap the middle of the stone. The engineering skills needed to perform such a feat is mind-blowing, but upon examining the edge, I could feel grooves cut into the edge of the stone which changed its course and made it appear as though it was flowing slower. A simple method, but how did the ancients discover they could do this?

The Nusta Bano with normal water flow…

..a quick tap of your finger and hey presto!

Space-Age Stone Technology

Like Tiwanaku, Sacsayhuaman and Hatun Rumiyoc, the ruins of Ollantaytambo raise major questions of how the ancients carried out the master stonemasonry and how they were able to transport colossal sized pieces of rock up a hill. Some of the stones used to build the Sun Temple near the summit of the settlement weigh between 70 and 80 tonnes. They were transported from the Kachiqhata stone quarry some 4km (2.5 miles) away.

“To get the stones from the quarry the builders would have floated them along the Urubamba River,” Walter says pointing towards the river that flows close by. “It is believed the rocks were heaved up the hill on log-rollers dragged using pulleys, leather ropes and levers. It would have taken hundreds of men to achieve this.”

There is not much doubt or dispute with how the ancients transported their stone, though the argument as to how they cut them is one of major contention. In their book, America’s Ancient Civilizations, A Hyatt and Ruth Verrill question mainstream thoughts that the rocks were shaped using stones or bronze tools. Yet some of the stones used in ancient stonemasonry, such as Tiwanaku and Hatun Rumiyoc were as hard as diorite, or like at Ollantaytambo, andesite. The authors write:

“Such an explanation is so utterly preposterous that it is not even worthy of serious consideration. No one ever has found anywhere any stone tool or implement that would cut or chip the andesite, and no bronze ever made will make any impression upon it.”

Echoes of Tiwanaku

Carved stones at Ollantaytambo resemble the Space-age technology of Tiwanaku

Tiwanaku has already been featured on this blog in some depth, and the name keeps cropping up. At Ollantaytambo there was reason to recall it again. Strewn on the floor were stones cut with space-age precision just like the ones I had seen in northern Bolivia. Experts say these stones are difficult to replicate with today’s technology. It would have been impossible using other stones. But then there is Lindsay Hasluck’s ‘Percy Fawcett’ theory and the elusive plant acid that melts stones.

Or perhaps Swiss sensationalist Erich Von Daniken is right with his theory of ancient aliens passing their knowledge of building on to our ancestors, who in turn passed it down through generations until the secrets became lost when the Spanish conquistadors brutally ended the reign of the Inca. Comparing the building work in the village it is clear the Spanish, and therefore the Europeans, did not possess the same degree of knowledge. So where did it come from and how did the Inca incorporate it into Ollantaytambo?

Hatun Rumiyoc: The Great Walls of Cusco, Peru

1 08 2012

Cusco, the “Naval” of the Inca´s World

The Cusco Believed Cusco was the centre of the World

During the reign of the Incas, Cusco was the capital of Peru. Its name derives from its original Quechua name, Qusqo, meaning the naval of the world. Today, Cusco is mostly visited by tourists on their way to Machu Picchu. At it´s heart is the Hatun Rumiyoc, a remarkable structure that cannot be explained by mainstream scientists – therefore another anomaly!

Cusco is an attractive city, relatively easy to navigate and has a distinct European flavour with Spanish-style churches and Prague-esque buildings lining narrow, cobbled streets. The city thrived during the time of the Inca and attracted visitors from far and wide. Members of other cultures marvelled at the technically advanced architecture at the centre of the Inca empire, an example of which is still evident a short walk from the main Square, Plaza de Armas.

Turn into Triunfo and head up the hill towards San Blas and you come to Hatun Rumiyoc where you find the enigmatic building of the same name thought to have been the palace of Inca Roca, the sixth Sapa Inca who ruled sometime around 1350. Today the enigmatic Hatun Rumiyoc is home to the museum of colonial art, but the giant polygonal stones of this impressive structure was a showpiece of ancient Cusco.

Even today, many visitors to Cusco are familiar with the famous 12-angled stone and eager tourists can often be spotted having their picture taken next to it.

The 12-angled Stone of the Hatun Rumiyoc

But what often goes unquestioned is the mysterious feats of Inca engineering, the technicalities of which are still disputed by experts of the modern era. There are several theories how the Inca were able to fold huge stones into one another without using mortar.

When you get to Hatun Rumiyoc, look for Alex, a guide and authority on the famous building together with Inca history in Cusco. He can normally be found loitering next to the 12-angle stone along with a hefty man dressed as an Inca posing for photographs.

Alex tells me, “The stone is two-metres deep and made from green diorite.”

Diorite is the second hardest material found on the planet and can only be cut using diamonds. “How did the Inca mould the stones with such precision?” I ask.

“One theory is that the stones were cut using meteorite stones called Jiwaya,” Alex says. “Another theory is the stones were softened using a substance known as Pito which is a mixture of three different Amazonian plants.”

The theory coincides with what Lindsay Hasluck told me about Percy Fawcetts discovery and is thought to have been used at Tiwanaku in northern Bolivia. But it still didn’t account for how the Inca were able to mould the stones and fit them together without using mortar.

Scientists speculate the stones were pieced together by carving out the desired shape then slotting them into place from top to bottom. Using diagrams he keeps in a plastic covered notebook, Alex demonstrates how the Inca traced out a pattern like a jigsaw puzzle and suspended the boulders with scaffold until the stone underneath had been slotted into place.

“To make a precise copy of the first boulder’s edge, the builders used a straight stick with a hanging plum-bob,” Alex tells me. “Then they traced the edges and sculptured the next stone by pounded it with hand-sized stones.”

“Doesn’t that sound a little difficult?” I say. “It must have taken them ages.”

“The Inca worked day and night to build the structures,” Alex told me. “They didn’t rest. Of course, this is only a theory.”

A theory it may be, and I like to keep an open mind, but the methodology just didn’t make sense. It seemed like a very convoluted means of building a wall. I can´t imagine why the Inca would go to such painstaking lengths to build a wall. For me Hatun Rumiyoc was more evidence that our so-called primitive ancestors were much more technically advanced than we give them credit for.

The Meaning of Hatun Rumiyoc´s 12-Angled Stone

There is also a lot of speculation why this one particular stone has twelve perfect sides. Some commentators have speculated that the number of angles represents the number of months in a year.

The Imperfect 13-angled stone

“The stone represents the first 12 Kings of Cusco during Inca times,” Alex tells me. This theory didn’t fit either as in folklore there were effectively 13 Inca Kings, 12 actual Kings and the mythical Manco Capac. Remarkably there is a stone on the opposite side of the building with 13 sides but this goes unnoticed Alex tells me because some of the sides are not as well defined as the 12-angled stone.

The discovery of the 13-angled stone made me wonder whether the 12-angled stone was nothing more than a design that just happened to fit that particular spot. After all it is nothing new for the Inca to fashion stones with multiple sides; they made one stone with 42 sides.

The most impressive wall is undoubtedly round the far side of building along the short walk leading to Inca Roca. Here you find a distinguished Inca trait of building animal shapes into their structures. The Inca worshipped three archetypes, the snake representing the underworld and wisdom, the Puma representing the material world in which we live together with strength, and the Condor representing the Upper World or Spiritual world – an extension of consciousness.

“Without one, you can’t have the others,” Alex tells me. “They all go together.”

The Archetypes of the Inca

In the time of the Inca, all three archetypes were physically present on the Hatun Rumiyoc. Today only the snake and the puma are visible. The Condor which had flown above the Puma near the top of the wall was destroyed by the Spanish who used the stones to build something else, most likely one of the cathedrals in Plaza de Armas.

You have to look carefully but when you know they are there the animals are plainly visible. Alex takes out his guide book and shows me a picture of the archetypes highlighted by a traced line.

The work of the Inca and the work of the incompetent

“During the summer solstice, the animals in the wall illuminate,” Alex says. “For this to happen the Inca had pasted the stones with gold.” The stone images are impressive to say the least.

In the corner of this street at the very bottom of Inca Roca is a wall which was erected by the Kilkas 1000 years before the Inca built the Hatun Rumiyoc. It is evident by the way the stones are laid out that the architecture was a pre-cursor to the technique the Inca perfected. Though the wall is still standing it is not in good a condition.

Also at this corner, built into the Hatun Rumiyoc itself we find evidence of the superior building skills the Inca had over the conquering Europeans. Take a look at the photograph on the right hand side and you can clearly see the difference in workmanship.In Cusco, the locals joke, “Here is the wall built by the Inca. Here is the wall built by the Incapable.”

The Inca didn’t keep written records of their history – at least this is what we are told though it is known that the Spanish destroyed all the writing they found in South America and called it the work of the Devil.

But as far as mainstreams historians want us to believe, the Inca made up much of their early history in order to hoodwink tribes into believing their unquestionable greatness. The early Inca were not great warriors or conquerors, but the warrior Kings of the 14th and 15th century didn’t want their subjects to know that.

It was a good example of what great statesmen the Inca Kings of the latter day had become, and I can´t help thinking the same tactics are being used in modern times and the Hatun Rumiyoc in Cusco is just another example of inconsistencies in the history we are told.

Space-Technology at Sacsayhuaman, Peru

31 07 2012

Designer rocks of Sacsayhuaman

Anomalies of Ancient Civilisations

Sacsayhuaman in Cusco is one of several archaeological sites in Peru that questions the history of mankind. The enigmatic fortress is a masterpiece of engineering modern day experts cannot explain and subsequently presents a dilemma in the fairytale mainstream account of history that is accepted by society. Sacsayhuaman is an awesome site to see for visitors, but for archaeologist’s it´s what they call an “Anomaly.”

The Inca called this incredible structure Saqsa Uma, meaning head of the Puma. The reason they did that is because Sacsayhuaman resembles the head of a puma and the Cusco that the Inca designed resembles the body of a Puma – one of the most scared animals to the Andean ancients as it represented the material world in which we live.

The heart of the Puma is where we find the main square of Plaza de Armas. The Quaricancha are the Pumas testicles and the tail is where the rivers, Shapi and Tullumayo used to meet. Today the rivers flow underneath the two main roads, Tullumayo and Avenue Sol which meet at the statue of Pachcuta.

Sacsayhuaman pre-dates the Inca

Sacsayhuaman itself is stacked into three platforms which represents the structure of the Universe as ancient civilisations saw it, much as we do today, namely, the Upper World or heaven, the material world and the under World or as we call it Hell. The stones of Sacsayhuaman are also laid out to form zigzag shapes that are indicative of lightning which was also deemed a supreme deity because of the powers lightning is said to have given to Alto misoyocs, the most powerful of Shamans. But lightning is also a symbol of the energy that is seen coming from the heavens and for our God-fearing ancestors this would have been frightening and powerful image.

But the most complex attribute about this amazing structure is how the massive stones are carved into peculiar curving shapes and pieced together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. And despite what some mainstream archaeologists will tell you, Sacsayhuaman was not built by the Inca, but long before their empire even started.

The great black stones are made of basalt and most weigh around 100 tons. Mainstream archaeologists say the structure was designed in such as way because the Inca wanted to impress visitors with their knowledge of building so that visitors would go back to their own settlements and speak highly of their great achievements. Yet records show that the Inca were useless at building at the only attempt they made killed hundreds of men when a boulder rolled down the mountain and crushed them.

Another record that dates back to the time of the Incas acknowledges Sacsayhuaman is older than the Inca. They say didn’t build it. The truth us nobody knows exactly when it was built but it is believed by the descendants of the Inca to have been built by an earlier, unknown civilisation.

The Mystery of Colnel Percy Fawcett

Moulded rocks of the Giant´s Causeway on display in London´s Natural History Museum

The building stones of Sacsayhuaman are packed so tightly architects say the builders would have to have moulded them to 140 degrees to melt them together. In the Natural History Museum in London are a block of moulded stones that were found in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Known as the Giant´s Causeway the strange stone structure was formed due the effects of lava flow. The stones from the Giant´s Causeway are also made of basalt and look exactly the same as the rocks at Sacsayhuman.

Sacsayhuaman is obviously not the result of a giant lava flow. However, it has been proposed by some archaeologists that this colossal structure could have been built using a rock-moulding plant extract mixed with spit that is said Colonel Percy Forsett discovered on an expedition in the Amazon jungle. Despite the search for this magic plant nobody has discovered it yet or actually knows if the combination works.

By way of explanation, archaeologist profess that the 19th Century British explorer, Colnel Fawcett was amazed by tiny birds who had built their nests into the side of rocks. He supposedly wrote in his journal that the indigenous Amazon peoples told him the birds used a plant extract that combined with their saliva softened the rock. Strangely enough Fawcett went missing during an Amazon expedition never to be seen again.

The explanation given by archaeologists as to how the ancients might have built Sacsayhuman raises a few obvious questions. What is the plant and what are the birds? Do these birds even salivate because scientists claim most birds do not!

Inca Legends

The Indian legend of Scasayhuman that has been passed down over generations throughout antiquity says the massive construction was built by a Falcon that carried a powerful chemical in its beak. As a result Sacsayhuaman translates to Falcon’s head. But if this is so, why is the structure shaped like the head of a Puma?

Because the myth resembles “something that came from the skies,” supporters of the ancient alien theory believe the mythic symbol of the falcon is used by the ancients to describe alien aircraft and that the knowledge of architecture the ancients would have required to build a structure like Sacsayhuman was given to them by extraterrestrials. Or perhaps it built by an advanced civilisation that existed pre recorded history!

Regardless of when it was built, Sacsayhuman must have been used for spiritual purposes as much as it does resemble a fortress. The Inca certainly used it as an initiation centre for priests who learned the secret teachings of the Universe, or in other words esoteric wisdom that is hidden in religious texts and not taught by modern day churches.

In the complex you will find mysterious stone carvings such as a snake with seven levels carved into the stone, the snake representing knowledge and the seven levels representing the spiritual progression man has to take to reach enlightenment – belief that dates back to time before we know it yet is unknown, or rather dismissed, by the majority of people today. The reason it is dismissed is because mainstream religions has corrupted the belief system so much most people consider spirituality is a load of bollocks. I must admit I used to think that too!

Lightning Design of Sacsayhuaman

We mostly know the seven steps to enlightenment today as the seven chakras and to open the chakras requires dedication and concentration through the art of meditation. The ancients called these stages the seven layers of heaven and overtime this blog will reveal the number seven and the spiritual beliefs of ancient civilisations around the world have a recurring theme that is only revealed in structures that cannot be explained by mainstream scholars. And Sacsayhuman is a prime example.

Tambomachay to Sacsayhuman, Peru

27 07 2012

Duality fountains, Tambomachay

Four Ancient Archaeological Sites for the Price of One

“There are two theories about Tambomachay,” David Choque, my guide tells me.

We are at Tambomachay near Cusco, Peru, the first of four sites you can visit by following the winding path down the mountain and ending at Sacsayhuaman. Most people just visit the latter as it is the most impressive and thus the most well-known. But it doesn´t cost any more to visit the other three and with the right guide, you will discover much more things of interest than you can find at Sacsayhuaman alone.

The first theory about Tambomachay is that the site was used by Inca kings to bathe after hunting. In the time of the Incas the surrounding hills were abundant with wildlife and it is thought the Inca Kings came up here to hunt. The steep terrain would have meant it was tiring work and with all the running and climbing the hunters would have been ready for a bath and somewhere to relax. In Quechua, Tambomachay literally means, “resting place.”

The other theory is this was the site of a temple dedicated to the water God, Pariacaca. The creator God Virococha is also looked up as the God of water, together with the God of rain and fertility among other things.

The water at Tambomachay has flowed at the same consistency for as long as anybody knows, presumably since the day it was built and plumbed in. The water is fresh, most likely from a natural spring, yet nobody knows where it stems from.

Tambomachay is an Inca Mystyery

One thing scholars do agree on is that the site would have been used exclusively by Inca nobility and religious leaders. The water displays are a profound example of that. One in particular is known as the fountain of life. It flows down in a single current before separating into two chutes at the bottom.

Like many things in the Inca world, the fountain of life is a symbolic display of duality. Nothing can exist without an opposite; night and day, man and woman, life and death. It is the same principle as Ying and Yang in ancient Chinese philosophy – yet another example of similarities from cultures half a world apart, despite according to mainstream historians, the peoples of South America and Asia had never met.

Shelter for the Dead

Another re-occurrence I noticed at Tambomachay was the niches I had first seen at El Fuerte in Bolivia and again on the Isla del Sol and at the Wiracocha Temple at Raqchi on the way to Cusco. By now I knew they were called Chullpas and represent the womb.

“They were used to keep mummies of the deceased in,” David tells me. “Each mummy would be looked after by an assistant who would feed them and take them outside for a sun-bath. To the Inca the mummies were considered living people. Servants would even cook for them and feed them.”

To the ancient Andean cultures the niches represented the woman’s womb and the dead are buried in the feotal position – like the mummies we have seen in the Wiracocha Museum on the way to Cusco. With their dead the ancients buried possessions that were considered sacred to the deceased. The whole ceremony was to prepare the soul for the next life. The Incas believed that death was a continuation of this life.

Puca Pucara Inca Check Point of Cusco

We made our way down the hill to the next ancient site, passing Queuna trees along the way, natives of Peru. Across the road from Tambomachay is Puca Pucara, believed to be a check point to count the number of people coming in and out of Cusco, as well as a resting place for messengers on their way to Cusco.

In its prime Puca Pucara would have been an impressive sight. Built in full view of the surrounding hills the four-tiered complex would also have been used as a look-out post.

Historians are certain that Puca Pucara was used as a watch tower because of its defensive wall and its name; in Quechua the meaning translates to red fortress, so called because the minerals in the stone magically change to a reddish colour in the sunshine.

Inca design double jam doors indicate nobility

The doorways were considered sacred and evidence of a double jam structure can be found all over the site suggesting a particular importance was attached to the site. At the back of the complex the smooth walls and skilled stonework is a clear indication that nobility stayed in that portion of the complex. It seems more likely that together Tambomachay and Puca Pucara was a sort of weekend retreat for the Inca hierarchy to relax and play.

At the entrance of the fortress you find rooms where travellers and messengers would have rested before continuing their journey to Cusco another 2km down the hill. Evidence has also been found that the site was used as a large storage facility for produce.

Another mean feat of engineering, the Puca Pucara complex was built on top of natural rocks, believed by the Inca to be the safest foundations.

The outcrop rocks are still in reasonably good condition, much better than the decaying stone underneath.

“That’s because the Inca deemed them to be sacred,” David tells me. “The Inca believed the spirits of deities lived in them.”

The Inca were very in tune with nature, much more so than we are today. Before they slaughtered an animal they would ask the spirit of the animal for its consent to kill it. They believed that without the agreement of the animal the food would be bad. It was a sign of respect for every living creature.

Inca Sacrifices at Q´Enqo

Continuing downhill we grabbed a taxi to drop us of at Q’enqo. For a couple of soles it saves a lot of time and energy.

Q’enqo is a fascinating place. Used as a religious complex, man-made corridors have been carved out of dense rock, and in a tunnel an altar was built for the purpose of performing ritual sacrifices on animals.

At one time of day this labyrinth of corridors was visited by priests and other high ranking religious members from the surrounding areas who would to come pray to their own deities.

Sacrificial Slab at Q´enqo

Although the Inca had conquered much of the Andean region, to show good faith to the occupied cultures they allowed them to continue worshipping their own gods without discrimination. Though some deities changed slightly from one culture to the next the practice of prayer and offering gifts was principally the same. And every culture shared the idea of one Goddess, that of Pachamama, Mother Earth.

As Dr. Valencia had explained a few days earlier, to offer a gift to Pachamama the priest would wrap gifts of corn, textiles, llama fat, cotton and other important products they considered important in paper and burn it. As a result, the high volume of visitors to Q’enqo on a daily basis would cover the place in ash from their burnt offerings. Renowned for the strength of their economy however, the Inca would not even allow ash to be wasted so it was gathered up and scattered on the fields below to ferment the land.

Q’enqo was a very important site for priests. It was here they would conduct ceremonies to pray to the Gods for a good harvest. On special occasions, usually a full moon or the solstices and equinoxes, a ceremony would take place in which an animal would be sacrificed. For the important dates this would be a black Llama, black as this was much rarer and considered more sacred.

The ceremonies always took place in secret and at night and were performed by the High Priest and a close confidante. The priest would perform the sacrificial ritual then tear the heart out of the Llama. The priest is said to have been able to predict how that year’s harvest was going to do by the way the heart came out. Because he was second only to the King in the hierarchy, whatever he said was believed and obeyed.

What Did the Number 19 Mean for the Inca?

As we were leaving David told me something I found very odd. Near the entrance of the Q’enqo complex are 19 small niches. These types of niches are used by priests to place their idols in when they are praying. They can be found in every Inca site still standing. Yet curiously, David tells me this on the way out:

“Nobody knows why there are 19,” he says.

My initial thought was why would anybody even question why there are only 19? Why has the question been raised? It was not until I visited the Inca Museum that I realised there may be some significance in the number after all!

Our last stop is Sacsayhuaman, the formidable fortress looking out over the city of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman represents the head of the Puma whilst the city is laid out in the shape of it body, and you can read more about the symbolism and mystery of Sacsayhuaman in another post.

An Insight into the Inca and Cosmo Visions in Peru

26 07 2012

The Sun God Virococha

An Interview with Retired Peruvian Historian Abraham Valencia Espinoza

There is little information about the Inca of Peru available in England, at least in London anyway. Before I embarked on my travels to Peru however, I was fortunate enough to be put in contact with a delightful and very helpful lady, Fresia Orihuela of Daily Tours in Cusco (Av. Sol 315, Tel: +51 084 277712). Fresia was taken by the idea for my book and subsequently arranged an interview with Senor Abraham Valencia Espinoza, a retired historian who had an illustrious career as an anthropologist at Cusco University for 50 years.

Dr. Valencia originates from Quechua and specialised in the study of ancient civilisations in South America. He has conducted a mountain of research into pre-Colombian cultures together with studies of Andean mystics and Cosmo visions of Shamanic tribes. I met up with him at his home in Cusco to learn more about Andean cultures and what modern man could learn from ancient civilisations. In order to communicate we enlisted the services of a translator, a pleasant and mild-mannered gentleman, David Choque.

Dr. Valencia is wearing a white shirt and beige trousers. His friendly face is capped with greying hair that curl into tiny spirals. To ease into the interview I ask how the Inca were able to achieve such extraordinary feats of engineering and how they learned such progressive architectural skills.

“Before the Inca there were tribes who possessed this knowledge. The Tiwanakans, the Wari’ and the Pucara were the most important.”

Senor Valencia explained these civilisations became very knowledgeable about architecture and engineering. But I still wanted to know how they acquired the knowledge. The professor replied, “They were shown by Viracocha. It goes back to the myths.”

The Legend of Virococha

Viracocha is said to have arrived in South America from across the ocean and walked into the highlands. Dr. Valencia told me about the legend I discovered in Isla del Sol, that talks about Viracocha rising from the depths of Lake Titicaca on a bed of white foam.

The Virococha Temple, Raqchi, Peru

“Viracocha looked totally different to the other people in the area,” Dr. Valencia said. “The people thought he was something mythical and were frightened of him. They didn’t trust him and treated him as an enemy. They threw rocks at him with slings so Viracocha started a fire.”

The interpreter David, a very knowledgeable man himself told me about an event that happened in the ancient past and is still remembered to this day. The region described in the myth is called Kanamarka which means ‘burned city.’ According to legend, the people were afraid of the fire and fled from the village. When they reflected what they had done to Viracocha they were overcome by guilt and returned to the settlement to make their peace. It was agreed they would build a temple in honour of his wisdom. The ruins of the Wiracocha Temple can still be found in the former Aymara community of Raqchi.

I was curious to know whether Senor Valencia subscribed to the orthodox teachings of historians so I ask him when he believed advanced civilisation began. He replied more than 5000 years ago.

“Thousands of years before or hundreds?”  I say.

The learned man gave a wry smile and said, “The Incas were the last culture to have knowledge of the ancients. That is why they were so good at medicine, architecture and maths etc.”

“Knowledge that had been passed down for thousands of years,” I pushed. He nodded his head, but didn’t give a date. Orthodox historians tell us

CNC Cut Stones – Space-age Technology at Tiwanaku

advanced civilisation began in Mesopotamia in modern day Iraq around the year 5500 BCE. Yet here I was with a former historian of the Andes region hinting advanced knowledge in this area of the world may well be much older. My curiosity satisfied I decided to leave it at that, but asked his opinion about the engineering feats achieved at Tiwanaku.

In order to cut stones so precisely they had to work day and night. They used Amorite stone to shape the other stones.”

Knowing that some of the stones at Tiwanaku are diorite, I quizzed Dr. Valencia about how they could have been cut with Amorite. Dr. Valencia replied that the ancients knew of volcanic stones which contained diamonds. This is how they were able to carve diorite. The answer was perfectly acceptable but for one major detail: the Tiwanakans would still have needed the right tools and know-how to cut shapes into the stone with such precision.

“People in the Raqchi area still working with them,” Dr. Valencia told me. His evasive answer suggested I wasn’t going to get an answer.

I was interested to know more about Senor Valencia’s study into Cosmo visions. “Shamans enter a Cosmo vision where they go into the Milky Way and can read the future.” They sounded very much like the description I had read in Diane Dunn’s book, ‘Cusco: The Gateway to Inner Wisdom.’

“There are three worlds, “Dr. Valencia said. “The Upper World, Our World and the Under World. When a Shaman enters a Cosmo vision he enters the Upper World.” As an after-thought, Dr. Valencia said, “but there has not been any real Shaman’s like in Inca times for years.”

David enhanced on this and told me most Shamans today are fakes. “Not even the Q’ero is 100% authentic.” That’s not to say all Shamans are pretenders, many do still practice ancient traditions, but because traditions have died out over time, it is considered Shaman’s today are not as powerful as they were in the ancient past.

Dr. Valencia tells us a story about a very powerful type of Shaman known as Alto Misayoq. It is said they are struck by lightning in order to gain special powers. Earlier that day I had seen a picture depicting such a scene in the office of a Shamanic healing centre. Dr Valencia told us that the last genuine Alto Misayoq living in Cusco died 51 years ago when he was still a boy. The man had a scar on his back in the shape of lightning. His predictions were considered to be so creditable that even the Catholic priests invited him in to the church to help people. He was so well respected that when he died the entire city turned out for his funeral.

Stars were important to the Inca

“What important artefacts tell us most about the past,” I asked.

Inca Pottery

Dr. Valencia told me to look for artefacts with stars on them. I had already found many ceramics depicting stars and had come across a lot of evidence that supported the fact ancient cultures had an in-depth knowledge of astronomy.

“And the magnetic stone, the Hatun Taqe Viracocha,” Dr Valencia said. “This is very important.”

Translated from Quechua the name means ‘The Great God Viracocha,’ and represents the upper world of the Inca. In 1613, Pacuakutiq Yanki Salgamaywi, a native chronicler, painted an oval shaped image in a painting to represent Viracocha and the stone has become synonymous with the mythical creator God ever since.

I wanted to know how the Quechua scholar felt about how the traditions of his indigenous culture were dying out. He looked pensive for several moments and a solemn glaze reflected in his dark eyes.

“Traditions are dying out because myths are disappearing. Nobody talks about Viracocha anymore,” he said. “One particular myth tells the story of a war between the Chankas and the Incas. After weeks of vigorous fighting the blood in the streets reached all the way up to the ankles. Viracocha helped the Incas defeat the Chankas. Afterwards he left South America – the way he had arrived; by boat.”

It was an interesting myth, but the chronology didn’t fit. If Viracocha had first appeared during the time Tiwanaku was built – said to be 500AD – how could he helped the Inca defeat the Chankas in 1438?

“Modern culture is destroying indigenous traditions,” Dr. Valencia continues. “Native children want to create some level of class and try to live in white society, but they struggle. They can’t move forward and they can’t go back. They’re just stuck in the middle.”  In Peru, these people are known as Choclo’s.

“Do you think the influence from Europe hindered the progress of South America as a culture and a continent?

“The arrival of the Spaniards had a totally negative effect on South America. They destroyed the culture, traditions and beliefs,” Dr. Valencia said. As I had already heard in Puno, the Spaniards executed anyone who refused to adopt Christianity as their religion. That was especially the case for Inca rebel leader Amaru Tupac who was executed in the main square at Cusco.

To end the interview I asked the burning question, the main reason I was here.

“What can the modern age learn from ancient cultures?”

“There is a lot to learn from tradition. Respect the Gods is the first. Give to Pachamama and the Universe gives back to you. The Incas were much more economical than us because their systems were more efficient.”

The Gateway of the Gods: Amaru Muru, Peru

21 07 2012

A portal to another dimension..?

“Many people have gone missing in this area,” my guide, Juan Jose tells me. “Children, groups of musicians; all just disappeared.”

We are on the edge of a field in the middle of nowhere, 12,800 feet above sea level in the Andes mountains and 35Km from Puno in the south of Peru. Looming over us is Hayu Marca, a surreal rock formation made of red-brown sandstone with deep rivets melted away by volcanic lava. Even more strange is a mysterious doorway carved into the side of a rock. Locally, this site is known as Amaru Muru; according to legend this is “The Gateway of the Gods.”

Popular myth tells the story of the Inca Priest Amaru Muru fleeing from his temple with the sacred ‘Golden Solar Disc’ which connects man with the cosmic energies of Love. The priest gave the disc to the Shamans who watched over the portal in a remote Aymara region near Lake Titicaca. Legend says the Shaman showed Amara Muru how to enter through the doorway into another dimension. He was never seen again.

The doorway was only discovered as a tourist attraction in 1996, although the natives have known about the location and what it represents for centuries. Strange beings in unusual clothing have been reported passing through the doorway and disappearing towards the lake.

Juan Jose is short and tanned with jet black hair. He wears jeans, a blue-striped shirt and shades. He kneels in the doorway facing the wall, his palms pressed against the side of the rock.

“At noon the gateway opens,” he tells me. “If you enter you never come back to this life.” It is one O’clock and we’ve missed our chance to escape to another dimension by a lunch hour.

Local Shaman’s still visit the site to perform ceremonies for tourists making offerings of coca leaves, corn and pieces of grain to Mother Earth which they call Pachamama. The remnant of a fire where a Shaman has performed a ‘despacho’ is evident between the rocks in front of the portal.

“At night the energy is strongest,” Juan Jose tells me. “People are afraid to come here after dark.”

An elderly man who lives in the Aymara village ten minutes walk away watches us with interest – but keeps his distance leaning on the rock near the entrance.

It’s my turn to kneel in the crevice and I press my head against the small blackened groove in the wall. This is where the priest, Amaru Muru supposedly placed the sun disc to unlock the portal. With my arms outstretched I place my palms against the rock either side of the doorway. As I meditate I feel an electromagnetic pulse emanate from the rock. The deeper my thoughts the stronger the vibrations pulse through the palm of my hands.

Why did ancestors of the Inca carve a doorway into a rock face..?

Years ago in Amsterdam, I attended a workshop and was asked to perform an exercise with a girl I had just met. We were instructed to look into one another’s eyes for about a minute. Then we were asked to close our eyes and go deep into ourselves to a place we felt safe. After another minute had passed we were asked to repeat the exercise. Look into one another’s eyes then withdraw into ourselves to a place we feel safe.

We were then asked to hold out our palms, up towards one another, but without touching. When we did an electric pulse vibrated in our fingers. The experiment was to identify how the electro-magnetic energy we have in our bodies can be used to help us to connect – or be repelled – to others. This is how the vibrations coming from the rock at Amaru Muru feel, only the ancients used this power we have to connect with the Universe.

Some people claim to have had strange experiences in the portal; visions of stars, columns of fire, the sound of strange music. Others say they saw tunnels and crystals. Outlandish and beautiful images are quite common in meditation and everyone has their own experience. This is what I believe happens at Amaru Muru, but because of the height in electromagnetic energy which stems from underlying ley lines and through the rock, meditation is much more forceful.

A spiritual healer from America claims to have passed through the portal at Amaru Muru and was stuck on the other side for some time before he could find his way back. An account of his claim is posted on the internet by a third party. If it is true he is the only known person to have passed through the gate and returned. I emailed and asked if I could interview about his experience. That was 6 months ago. I haven´t had a response.

I kneel and meditate in the doorway. A lightness washes over me. Maybe this is the point I transcend into another world. Nothing more happened. I concentrate harder, but still nothing. A few spectacular images of flying through space and into planets, but nothing unusual. It seems I am not physically destined for other worlds yet and they will remain purely in my imagination. My rightful place is here on Earth.

Amaru Muru – nothing on earth quite like it!

Perched on the rock above me an Andean Pakir calls to a mate. Somewhere in the distance comes a muffled whistle. The world around me is still a powerful presence.

We make our way back to the car. Along the dirt road we pass Aymara villagers returning to from a days work by the roadside. They carry spades and picks. “Buenas Tardis,” we say to exchange pleasantries. They are cheerful and polite.

Four women and a man stop us and speak in Spanish to Juan Jose. “They want to know if you want your photograph taken with them.” How could I refuse – even though it cost me five soles for the pleasure.

The Aymara women tell us they have been filling in the trenches to bridge a path on to the main road. It was the rainy season and the trenches had filled with water and blocked their path out of the village. To fill it they had used sand and gravel. Their natural surroundings were suitable to ensure they had not been stranded.

The encounter reminded me how indigenous cultures rely on nature to solve their problems. It struck me how limited we are in the west because we throw money at tradesman to fix our problems for us or the council repair whatever needs fixing with the street – eventually.

Whilst we talk to the women, a man leading donkeys carrying bundles of mustard flowers comes towards us from the opposite direction. As they pass one of the donkeys collides with me and bumps me off the road. Perhaps that was my penance for trying to escape to another world.