Thursday, January 31, 2013

Different Cultures or the Same? Part I

Another problem we have with archaeology and anthropology is their nature of naming each city area a different name and culture. Often this is based upon style—style of architecture, of pottery, and of other artifacts. If pottery styles are different, then it is automatically assumed they came from different cultures, even if found in the same location. If architecture is different, the buildings were built by different cultures. Another factor is distance, even if ceramics or architecture is the same or similar, if the distance is beyond an attributed area to a culture then, again, it is a different culture.
Take Kuelap, as an example. It was built, like the Moche coastal pyramids, in stages as a series of platforms, one atop the other. However, to the scholar, these were two entirely different cultures. On the other hand, the Moche civilization is said to have begun during the fall of the Cupisnique era at about the time of Christ. Yet these two civilizations slowly merged into one, still named the Moche, after a river that flows into the ocean just south of Trujillo. Though the two cultures followed each other, there is no thought that they were a continuation of the same culture.
Left: Cupisnique culture clay architecture; Right: Chimu culture clay architecture at Chan Chan; Bottom: Sican culture clay and mud brick architecture too ruined to tell what similarities might exist—however, some comparisons suggest a connection which many scholars ignore
Yet, both the Moche and the Cupisnique existed along Peru’s Pacific coast, with the Cupisnique, according to Alana Cordy-Collins, flourishing from 1000 B.C. to about 200 B.C., which just so happens to be the same dates attributed to yet another culture, the Chavin. In addition, the Cupisnique had a distinctive style of adobe clay architecture but shared artistic styles and religious symbols with the later Chavin culture, which followed them. Yet, the relationship between Chavin and Cupisnique is not well understood, and the names are sometimes used interchangeably, though other scholars believe the Cupisnique developed separately from the Chavin.
Izumi Shimada thinks the Cupisnique were ancestors of Michica (Moche), with no connection to the Chavin, yet Anna C. Roosevelt refers to "the coastal manifestation of the Chavin Horizon dominated by the Cupisnique style." Some scholars believe the Cupisnique culture fell into powerful Chavin influence and was assimilated into it. The point is, there is no clear-cut determination in determining these separate cultures—it is merely guesswork based upon the individual scholar’s views and beliefs.
In the area that belongs to the Cupisnique culture and is demarcated by Virú and Lambayeque river valleys, there were, in ancient times, several ceremonial and population centers fitted out with monumental temple plains plus a great many smaller villages. Within the Cupisnique culture, it is claimed there was no uniform state—it was more a question of unity brought about by similar beliefs and art. Similar beliefs and art? Then what makes them different cultures? Why are they not considered to be the same people, simply with different art interests, abilities, or visions? Mostly, the Cupisnique have been set apart by the ceramic style archaeologists attribute to them.
To compound this even further, the Chavin, Tiwanaku, and the Chachapoyas, all of which, according to the scholars, are considered to be totally different cultures, even existing at different times, yet, all have at least one very distinctive thing in common and that is the use of carved heads along walls.
Top: Iconic carved stone heads on the walls of the pyramid at Chavin de Huantar, located 160 miles north of Lima, east of the Cordillera Blanca, in the Conchuycos Valley, about 850 B.C. to about 300 B.C.; Middle: Carved stone heads built into the temple wall at Tiwanaku, south of Lake Titicaca, around 500 B.C. to about 500 A.D.; Bottom Left: Carved head built into the wall at Gran Saposoa, located in the high Amazon jungles of Peru; Bottom Right: Head carved into the stone wall at Kuelap in northern Peru, believed to be the Chachapoyas culture
Were several of these cultures actually the same people as they progressed through the centuries, learning to do things differently, spreading into different areas, which required building with different natural resources available in new areas. Were these people learning better, more improved, or simply different artistic talents, abilities, form or design? The three ancient rock carved heads below were found at three different sites, all attributed to the Chachapoya, though the sites were scattered over a wide area. In fact, one of the sites, recently discovered La Meseta, in the upper Amazon on the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains, which was considered far outside the previously believed Chachapoya culture geographical influence. Consequently, archaeologists believe the Chachapoya were hired to build that site, or might have been pressed into slave labor. For some reason, scholars never seem to consider they were the same people simply moving into other areas, or that all those northern Peru sites were settled by the same people.
Three more rock carved heads from various sites, all attributed to the Chachapoya culture, yet are in far flung areas
Another example is that the Chachapoya are renowned for their mountain-top citadels, such as Kuelap, Gran Pajaten and Vir Vira, all in northern Peru, yet the mountain-top citadels of Sacsayhuaman, Pisac, and Machu Picchu, to name a few, are not attributed to the Chachapoya.
Another oddity of archaeological and anthropological reasoning is that Ollantaytambo is considered a pre-Inca site, but Sacsayhuaman and Machu Picchu are considered to have been built by the Inca. Yet, all three sites have the unique massive rocks, perfectly carved and fitted, with protuberances, possibly used for movement of the large stones, and trapezoidal openings for doorways and window openings.
Top images of Machu Picchu and bottom images from Sacsayhuaman; Note the same sharp angle cuts and slightly bulged large stones on the left images, and the same cut stones perfectly fitted without mortar in the right photos. Both structures show the same artistic, engineering and design ability, yet Sacsayhuaman was built more than a thousand years before Machu Picchu is said to have been constructed, the former by a pre-Inca people, and the latter by the Inca
Left: Rock protuberances on stonework: Top Left: Cuzco; Right: Ollantaytambo; Bottom Left: Machu Picchu; Center: Ollaytaytambo; Right: Coriancha
Here is a strong example of similar and even identical construction built over widely different periods, yet attributed to the same people, or in some cases, to different people.
(See the next post, Different Cultures or the Same? Part II, for more information showing how so-called different cultures may, in fact, have been one, or only a few, groups of people)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part VII

Continuing from the previous six posts, several examples have been shown how the Inca construction differed considerably from the older, more exact and precise building of a more ancient people.
Those who built the magnificent structures in Peru and the Andes had a knowledge of building far beyond that of other people. As an example, according to the Engineering News-Record, Civil engineers and other researchers working under a $90,000 National Science Foundation grant are studying the ancient highway system of South America for clues to help modern society build roads, bridges and other infrastructure that last longer and have a less harmful impact on the environment. This past July, researchers spent 10 days in the Peruvian highlands walking about 30 miles of the road northeast of Huaraz; they used ground-penetrating radar to probe the subgrade, and they used satellite equipment to report findings in real time to colleagues in the United States.
Left: An ancient Peruvian road near the town of Castillo. Note the new paved cut cutting across the ancient thoroughfare; Right: The ancient highway that went from Ecuador to Chile, a distance of 3,200 miles
“When the Conquistadors came, they said that the road was better than the Roman roads in Spain.” Ancient Peruvians also built other stone structures near or integrated into the road—culverts, ditches, sidewalls—to accommodate water flows and support side slopes,” said Clifford J. Schexnayder, a retired professor at Arizona State University, Tempe. “Hydraulic pressure, as with today’s solid-concrete retaining walls and levees, was likely not a problem due to the permeability of these stones. Today, some asphalt and concrete pavements are being designed with permeability in mind.”
Left: While the Egyptian stonework followed a horizontal plane, the South American stonework is polygonal, apparently following neither vertical nor horizontal planes, a process which would have required a considerably higher level of technical skill. The masonry of South America is probably the finest the world has ever seen; Right: The unusual granite stonework at Puma Punku at Tiwanaku, considered the oldest stone structures on Earth, that fit perfectly without mortar
The stonework at Puma Punku (Door of the Puma), just south of Lake Titicaca in the ruins called Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco), are considered by modern builders some of the most advanced stonework ever seen among ancient ruins. Even with modern-day technology and machinery, archaeologists believe that replicating these stone structures would be difficult, if at all possible. Those who built this area would have been very sophisticated, knowing astronomy and mathematics. To build a place like Puma Punku, experts say there had to have been a great deal of planning and writing, to have made these finely cut stones. The cuts are all perfectly straight, the holes cored into them are perfect, and all of equal depth, and were cut to interlock and fit together like a giant puzzle—when fitted together they created a structure four levels high, or about forty to fifty feet.
The slabs of rock at Puma Punku said to have once been a huge wharf. The port wharf with a massive four-part building, is now an area filled with enormous stone blocks scattered around the ground like matchsticks, with several weighing between 100 and 150 tons.  One block still in place is estimated to weigh 440 tons. So noticeably impressive are the stones and megaliths is their sheer size, which has given certain sites an almost 'mythological' status, with local traditions often claiming that they were fashioned by 'giants' or 'gods.' As an example, a story was told by the local Aymara natives to a Spanish traveler who visited Tiahuanaco shortly after the conquest. He said that the city's original foundation was placed in the age of Chamac Pacha, or First Creation,  long before the coming of the Incas. Its earliest inhabitants, they said, possessed supernatural powers, for which they were able miraculously to lift stones off the ground, which "...were carried [from the mountain quarries] through the air to the sound of a trumpet.”
While legends are far too often exaggerated, they usually contain some segment of the truth, and here we find that these ruins at Tiwanaku are both dated to an ancient age, and verified to an ancient time by the indigenous natives at the time of the Spanish conquistadors. What is important about this is the fine work, showing an advanced engineering technology admitted to be unbelievably advanced even by today’s standards.
Does this sound like something the Inca could have achieved in a mere 90 years, while fighting on three fronts and conquering some 100 different tribes and nations? Hardly.
Once again, let’s take a look at the stonework ability of the Inca.
On an ancient wall in Cuzco, we have on the right, the original wall built long before the Inca, showing an ancient technology of perfectly fitted large stones precisely cut and angled; Right: On the left and at the top, the later Inca work, using their typical small stones with which they worked to cover the original wall
Another ancient pre-Inca wall in Cuzco, with Inca additions along the far left top, once again using the small stones
Inca stonework repair. The Inca fitted their small rocks on the massive stones that weighed many tons built by an ancient, pre-Inca people
This wall behind the Peruvian woman was built entirely by the Inca. Note how the rocks do not fit well, and compare with wall at right of pre-Inca stonework by a more ancient people
Since it is obvious the Inca simply lacked the advanced engineering skills of the ancient builders of Cuzco, Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo and numerous other sites, the question has to be asked. Who could have built such magnificent stonework as that found found all over Peru?
The only plausible answer is that it was built by the Nephites.
“And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools (1 Nephi 17:10)…the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers… now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me… and I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things (1 Nephi 18:1-3).
It was the Lord who personally instructed Nephi, and it was Nephi who then taught his people how to “build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance… and I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine (2 Nephi 5:15).
It took a great deal of effort, labor, ingenuity, and persistence to build Sacsayhuaman. “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:16).
Sacsayhuaman, of course, is the City of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:8), later called the City of Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 7:21; 9:15).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part VI

Continuing from the previous five posts, the question has to be asked. Who could have built such magnificent stonework as that found at Sacsayhuaman?
The Kilke? Their work is said to have been much lesser in degree, being the outlying buildings, etc.
The superb stonework we see at Sacayhuaman is said to have been built by the Inca, but we have seen the capability of the Inca (see the previous posts), which is also shown below:
The wall of large stones lower left is pre-Inca, the smaller stacked stone wall lower right is Inca. Note the considerable difference in quality, ability, and effort. The large stones are cut to fit perfectly, the small stones are merely stacked, Inca-style
Can anyone really believe that just anyone built such marvels? Just because the Inca occupied the fortress, does that mean they built it? Consider the mathematics required, the design diagrams, architectural calculations, the angles needed, and the overall drawings required, to achieve such accomplishments. After all, it was not just one huge stone with numerous different angled cuts needed, but tens of thousands of huge stones were involved, almost every single one requiring multiple-angled cuts to fit so tightly, not a knife blade or a sheet of paper can be slipped between the joints. Yet, as has often been reported, the Inca had no written language. Their quipos may well have been a marvel of recording lists, etc., but they did not deal with drawings of any kind.
Examples of amazing stonework by skilled ancient stonemasons. Note the number of angles of the single large stone (12) in the bottom image. The people who built these walls were both engineering and architectural design experts, and extremely skilled stonemasons, at least knowing geometry
Archaeologists, anthropologists, and scholars can give credit to the Inca, if they choose, for such magnificent work as that of Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo and numerous other gigantic sites and complexes, but the truth of the matter is the Inca had no such engineering, building, or stonemason capability. They had no writing, therefore, would have had no written or drawn plans, yet had to make hundreds of geometric calculations in their designs.
To there credit, they did establish an empire that stretched for 2500 miles or so from Colombia to Chile, but the amount of time it took to do so matches pretty much the entire duration of their existence, from about 1438 to 1528, when they were beseeched with an internal Civil War, and toward the end of that, the Spanish invasion that completely destroyed the Inca as a nation and as a people.
We should recognize that the Inca subjugated an estimated 16,000,000 people by the time they were done, but no sooner had they achieved that lofty point than their empire began to crumble from political intrigue, inner family disputes, and the resulting civil war. They had no more time to invest in the building of Sacsayhuaman, let alone Ollantaytambo, and certainly not all the other ancient sites modern historians attribute to them. They were not builders, they were subjugators, absolute dictators of millions of people who had no rights other than what the Inca ruler allowed.
Every person who has ever seen the huge stones used at Sacsayhuaman, and how perfectly they fit, the numerous cuts made on hundreds and thousands of stone, and the unique interlocking of positions, rave about what they found. Not even modern builders can believe what they see there.
Consider the unusual shapes and cuts of the joints in these early Sacsayhuaman stoneworks. The engineering fete of shaping, cutting, reshaping, and fitting, such huge stones, many weighing over fifty tons, and some over 100 tons or more, astounds the visitor
Also consider the fanatical concern for defense that drove the design and building of the overall complex. The fortress is situated to the north of the valley, with a breathtaking view of the valley below, including its three main entrances, which can clearly  be seen from the lookout positions established there. With a cliff on two sides, and the three-tiered, almost impregnable walls on the other two, the citadel was extremely formidable.
Note the defensive nature of Sacsayhuaman. Left: The three tiered walls of the outer defenses, each wall some 20 feet high or more; Right: Even after breaching the outer walls, the interior maze of narrow, crooked corridors are easily defended.
But not only were there three outer walls, but within the complex were huge towers. Muyu Marca, the main tower, consisted of three concentric, circular stone walls connected by a series of radial walls. A web-like pattern of 34 lines intersected at the center and also there was a pattern of concentric circles that corresponded to the location of the circular walls. There were four superposed floors, with the first having a square floor, and the others cylindrical, each forming circular  cultivation terraces with decreasing width, from 12 feet to 10 feet. The tower ended up in a conic ceiling, some 65 feet above the base. To bring water into the fortress, there were three channels constructed into what many scientists consider to be a reservoir. The entire complex was an amazing work that generated awe among the conquistadors and the admiration of several early Spanish chroniclers. Unfortunately, despite the latter’s protests, the Spaniards destroyed all three towers, believing them the word of the Devil.
All that is left of the main tower. Note the circular rock foundation upon which it stood, and the support foundations all around
Once again then, who built Sacsayhuaman?
After all, who in that early time could have known about the mathematics needed, the angles required, the interlocking method of design, the inverted angles of walls, the trapezoidal design of doorways and windows, and the other innovations seen in Sacsayhuaman? Who would have known how to build such magnificent buildings, move such massive rocks, how to carve huge boulders, and create such perfectly fitted joints? Who would have known where the ore was to build the tools to work the stones?
The Inca told the conquistadors that Sacsayhuaman had been built by giants. They certainly didn’t know, and they certainly didn’t build the massive fortress themselves.
(See the next post, “The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part VII, for more on the limited ability of the Inca building capability, and an answer to who actually built Sacsayhuaman and the other ancient buildings in Peru)

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part V

Archaeologists and anthropologists today believe that the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuaman was first built by the Kilke culture, which is said to have occupied the site before the Inca, and that the building began in about 1100 A.D. They also believe that the Inca occupied Sacsayhuaman beginning around 1400 A.D. and continued the construction around 1438 A.D. and finished around 1508 A.D.
What is left of Sacsayhuaman today. This site covered 3,094 hectares (7645 acres—12 square miles), and is one of the engineering marvels of the ancient Americas
Once again, to gain the significance of what was built and attributed to an unknown culture, the Kilke, and to the Inca, a known culture with examples of their inadequate building abilities (see previous post), the main surrounding ramparts consisted of three massive stepped parallel walls zigzagging together for over 1400 feet, designed to make any attacker expose his flanks.
One of the problems with this is simply that the amount of effort, resources, and manpower that went into the building of these defensive walls seems both un-Inca and unnecessary, since in their 90-year history, they were so involved in expanding their empire outward, from the singular area of Cuzco Valley to a vast domain covering some 700,000 square miles. Why would they have been so concerned about attack to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman that was some 1000 miles or more from any hostile force?
The expansion areas of the Inca Empire. The Red is Cuzco, the original area of the Inca. Purple is the first expansion under Pachacutec, and along with the brown and tan, would have taken a great deal of manpower to accomplish (1438 to 1493), and the light green carried the Inca through 1525
In addition, the massive blocks, the largest being 28-feet high and weighing nearly 300 tons, are fitted together with absolute perfection. The foundations are made of Yucay limestone brought from about 10 miles away. The outer walls are made from massive diorite blocks from nearby, and the inner buildings and towers are made from dark andesite some of it brought from over 21 miles away.
The chronicler Cieza de Leon, writing in the 1550's, said that it took 70 years to build, and thought that some 20,000 men had been involved in its construction: 4000 men cutting blocks from the quarries; 6000 dragging them on rollers to the site; and another 10,000 working on finishing and fitting them into position. According to legend, some 3000 lives were lost when one huge stone that was being dragged uphill broke free.
Again, the problem arises that why would the Inca devote 20,000 men to such a project when they had need of those men in their armies fighting to conquer some 100 different tribes or nations throughout what is today Peru, western Bolivia, Ecuador, southern Colombia, most of Chile, and part of Argentina? After all, in 1438, when they stopped the aggressive advance of the Chanka’s attack on Cuzco, it is said the Inca had a total population of only 40,000. Yet it is also claimed they began the construction of Sacsayhuaman that very year.
Now, consider. 40,000 total population. Basically that means about 1/3 men, 1/3 women, and 1/3 children. This means, at most, they had only about 13,000 to 15,000 men in their entire population, yet it is also claimed that the Inca ruler, Prince Yupanqui, renamed Pachacutec, began his immediate expansion of the area by military means. So who was in the military if all the men were building Sacsayhuaman? In addition, to maintain an army, there needs to be farmers growing crops, herdsmen tending flocks, butchers and food preparers to keep the army fed; there needs to be people making weapons: swords, spears, slings, etc.; there needs to be people making some type of protective covering or armor; there needs to be people making clothing, sandals, headdress, etc.
To compensate for this, scholars claim that as the Inca expanded their empire, they acquired forced labor from the conquered tribes and nations. But when we look at that, we find: 1) The Inca had to have people overseeing the conquered nation, making sure they were kept in line, showing a significant presence to guarantee the cooperation of the conquered, and position a significant local presence to guarantee there was no future rebellion; 2) a force was needed to bring the conquered males into the Inca army, which was no easy fete since the conquered conscripts would have to be kept separate so no rebellion in the ranks was fomented, etc; and 3) a sizeable force would be needed to train, organize, and lead the conscripts. None of this would have been an easy matter, since conquered people do not automatically become trusted members of the conquering society or military for some time.
In addition, with more mouths to feed, more soldiers to equip with weapons, clothing, etc., there had to be more people at home at to be involved. The point being that with the amount of manpower needed in the military and the amount of manpower needed at home to keep them equipped, fed, clothed, and operational, there simply would have been no manpower left to start or work on a 70-year project of building Sacsayhuaman, let alone a reason to build it. After all, the Inca army proved invincible for at least the first fifty years of their expansion. Not until the army reached the northern, southern, and eastern borders of what became the extent of their eventual territory, did they run into such stiff resistance that even after years of fighting, were unable to conquer further.
While it is easy for historians many hundreds of years later to say this or that happened, it is quite another matter for it to have actually taken place. Again, while it is true that after about 50 years, the Inca had several million people under their control, it cannot be assumed that a significant number were in Cuzco building a fortress. Especially when we realize that the Inca practice of control was to allow conquered nations to more or less govern themselves. It is also true that any point after many successful conquests of nearby nations and expanding outward, that the Inca would have feared an attack in Cuzco to take manpower away from their armies to build a fortress overlooking their valley.
It is interesting how scholars make such claims when there was no one around at the time to have said anything about this. Take for example, the Kilke culture they say began the first construction of Sacsayhuaman, at least the outlying buildings. Basically, nothing is known of the people archaeologists have labeled the Kilke. They are believed to have existed from 900 A.D. to about 1200 A.D., and thought to have occupied the region around Cuzco prior to the arrival of the Inca in the 13th century.
The only thing attributed to the Kilke is some ceramics discovered by John H. Rowe, who originally thought them to be early Inca. But later Rowe decided that the pottery was Kilke (interesting since nothing at all was or is known about the Kilke). These vessels are globular with vertical strap-handles and having simple linear geometric decorations of black or black-on-red over a white or buff slip. And that is it. Yet, this unknown people are said to have built the original beginnings of Sacsayhuaman.
It is also interesting that Rowe believed that the area of Cuzco was settled from oldest to latest: Marcavalle (1000-700 B.C.), Chanapata (700 B.C. to 700 A.D.), Waru, Huari and Lucre (750 A.D. to 900 A.D.), Kilke (900 A.D. to 1200 A.D.) Early Inca (1200 A.D.), Classic Inca (1438 A.D.), and Colonial Inca (1530 A.D.) Add to that is Anthropologist Karen L. Mohr-Chavez, who claims: “There were no pre-ceramic periods found in and around Cuzco.”  That is, the first people there had ceramics and were advanced beyond the normal diffusion periods that precede ceramics, called pre-ceramics, etc. Stated differently, the first settlers of Sacsayhuaman or Cuzco already had an advanced culture.
(See the next post, “The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part VI, for more on Sacsayhuaman, and an answer to who actually built it)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part IV

The question discussed in the past three posts, is what did the Inca build, and what did they merely occupy as late comers to the Andean area?
As an example, the workmanship of the ancient people who built Sacsayhuaman is one of the remarkable feats of the Americas. The architecture was remarkable, the accomplishment outstanding, and the intricate stonework amazing.
This pucara, or fortress, of Sacsahuaman that overlooked Cusco (the City of Nephi) is without doubt one of the greatest structures of its kind anywhere. Fifteen hundred feet in length, it is composed of three massive tiers of stone walls, which have a combined height of 60 feet, with the walls broken into 46 salients (outward wall projections) and retiring angles (creating the zigzags), and buttresses. The cyclopean foundations contain stones that weigh more than 30 tons; these stones have carved beveled edges.
Top Lefty: An early drawing showing height of lower wall compared to a Spaniard; Top Right: An early photograph of the lower wall, the carved corner stone is twenty feet tall; Bottom: Current photo of the lower wall with its zig-zag shape
Before the Inca occupied Sacsayhuaman, it was occupied by the Kilke culture people. Before that it is cloudy as to who occupied the Cuzco area and during what times. The Huari (Wari) people are said to have been just to the north, and they were supposed to have been connected to the Tiwanaku people who were just to the south of Cuzco. However, none of the peoples mentioned seem to have been capable of building Sacsayhuaman, which can only lead one to believe it was far more ancient than scholars claim.
The engineering fetes of the builders have become legend over the years of study. The 300,000 or more stones that form the fortress are irregularly polygonal and locked so well structurally that they have defied innumerable earthquakes as well as the attempts of man himself to dislodge them. The fortress, replete with fighting towers, underground passages, habitations, and an intricate system of water distribution is unique in engineering throughout the Americas. The Inca claimed it was begun in 1438, the year they defeated the Chanka, and finished in 1508, twenty years before the Spaniards arrived at their borders. They also claim it took 30,000 workmen over 70 years to complete it.
The walls consist of massive blocks of stone which are so closely spaced that it is impossible even to slide a piece of paper between the stones. It is unknown how the blocks were moved and how the walls were constructed. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the limestone blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cusco. The Spanish harvested much rock from the walls of the structure to build churches and monasteries in Cusco. This is why the walls are in perfect condition up to a certain height, and missing above that point.
Of course it should be kept in mind that the entire Inca population before they started expansion is claimed to have been only 40,000, and from 1438 to 1508, the Inca were involved in fighting and subjugating no less than one hundred different tribes or nations, while at the same time keeping a military presence in each of these conquered areas to monitor and keep the conquered in line.
The idea of committing 30,000 men over 70 years to labor on a fortress in an area not under attack, and as the conquest continued successfully to expand the borders further and further away from Cuzco, to a point where the valley could not be threatened, while committing tens of thousands, and later hundreds of thousands to military action, seems unreasonable, let alone extremely poor military and governmental leadership judgment.
In addition, the Inca claimed to have finished just twenty years before the Spaniards arrived, and only about thirty-five years before the empire fell, yet the Spaniards did not described the fortress as being new or even near new, but looked like it had existed for a very long time, and frequently asked the Inca they conquered who built it—which the Inca often claimed for their own. However, the engineering accomplishments of Sacsayhuaman tell a different story.
Take for an example the fantastic construction of huge stones weighing hundreds of tons so perfectly cut and fitted, modern man cannot understand how it was accomplished with the types of tools known to the ancients. When the Inca later occupied this site, they tried to repair a few of the damaged walls, where a some anciently set big stones have fallen over the years, probably from earthquakes in the past. Their efforts show a lack of ability to come close to the original, magnificent work that is often attributed to them.
In addition, when the Spanish arrived, they used Inca labor to build on top of some of the ancient walls and structures. However, after two earthquakes, all the Inca had built came tumbling down while all the older pre-Inca walls and structures remained standing beneath the new, destroyed Inca work. Just look at the numerous examples below of excellent pre-Inca work, so precise and exact in fit and interlocking structure that modern engineers are amazed, and compare it to the few Inca repairs that are obvious of far lesser quality and knowledge. The difference is astounding:
Top Left: note the small rocks the Inca used to try and repair where a much larger stone had fallen; Right: Another place where the Inca used small rocks along the top course of the wall where some boulders tumbled down anciently; Bottom: An example of Inca stonework known to  have been built during Inca times. Note the different between the repairs and this latter haphazard stacking of rocks with the giant, carved and perfectly fitted stonework of an earlier time
Note the different abilities shown in these two examples of ancient stonework. Left: More recent Inca work; Right: Older stonework of Sacsayhuaman
Note the difference between these two lintel doorways. Left: An older doorway using large, carved blocks; Right: A more recent Inca doorway using small, non-carved, loosely fitting lintel and rocks
Left: Note the Inca repairs on the wall seen above the llama’s  head; Right: More obvious Inca repairs showing their lack of ability to cut and fit stonework—they used small stones with which they could work, even tough the missing larger stones were available for use
Top Left: Top level of the three walls at Sacsayhuaman. Note the clump of stones in the center right where the Inca tried to repair the top wall; Top Right: More obvious Inca repair work; Bottom: Pre-Inca work—note the detail of fitting a small triangular rock in the center, which was beyond Inca capability
The lower wall. Note 1) the top stones that were torn down by the early Spanish to build their own churches and houses—they stopped lower down because they simply could not dislodge them; 2) the fortress overlooked the valley below (Cuzco)
Left: Note the perfectly rounded carving of all three stones of varying sizes, and especially the vertical cut and matching line to the right of the bottom stone so the middle stone overlapped for a stronger joint. In none of the repairs made by the Inca before the Spanish arrived was any such engineering capability shown; Right: Note the planning, even if an enemy could breach the lower wall, to get to the next level they had to pass through this single opening, that had an upward approach and steps, slowing progress, and having to pass the defenders on two levels above them

When it is said the Inca worked on Sacsayhuaman before the Spanish arrived, it should be noted that their work is very obvious, using small rocks, most unfitted, to fill in the missing huge stones that were once in place. Inca work was far inferior to that of the original builders
Even in small walls, care was taken to carve rounded corners, interlock stones, and even angle small stones to smooth off the top and make sure everything fit. Inca small stonework was simply a  haphazard stacking of stones as shown in the above images
(See the next post, “The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part V,” for a real look at the Inca as they were, not as historians want us to believe they were)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part III

Almost everything we know about the Inca, especially the pre-Spanish period of Inca power, we know from the writings of a few literate conquistadors and early chroniclers. Among them, and the one who wrote the most about the earlier Inca, was Garcilaso de la Vega, who was born illegitimately in 1539 to a 19-year-old Inca noblewoman, Princess Palla Chimpu Ocllo (later baptized as Isabel Suárez Chimpu Ocllo) and a Spanish captain and conquistador, Sebastián Garcilaso de la Vega y Vargas. Sebastián died in 1559 and Garcilaso in 1616.
Left: Garcilaso de la Vega; Center: Palla Chimpu Ocllo; Right: Sebastián Garcilaso de la Vega y Vargas
Garcilaso lived with his mother (who had been abandoned by his father for a young Spanish woman) for the first ten years of his life and learned to speak Quechua and Spanish. His mother was a daughter of Tupac Huallpa and a granddaughter of the powerful Inca Tupac Yupanqui, and he was brought up on the stories of the glory days of the Inca, which were first heard and then retold by “rememberers,” which kept the official histories.
As a native Quechua speaker born in Cuzco, Garcilaso wrote accounts of Inca life, history, and the conquest by the Spanish, which were published as the Comentarios Reales de los Incas. It is important to understand Garcilaso’s motivation in his writing. At the time he chronicled the Inca history, the conquerors were mistreating the indigenous Indians of the Andes with terrible abuse. In addition, Garcilaso himself was ridiculed for his “Inca” blood.
Garcilaso’s work: Commentary of the Royal Inca, not translated into English until 1961
At the time, marriage between the Spanish and native people of the Americas was not recognized in Spain, where Garcilaso tried to get recognition of this marriage so he could collect his father’s full payment for services rendered to the crown. Embittered by his illegitimacy in Spain and proud of his Inca heritage, Garcilaso took on the name "El Inca" (In this case, "Inca" was for the old ruling lineage group, not the general people).
In response, Garcilaso set about to prove the superiority of the Inca, tout their vast heritage, and embellish their accomplishments. He was aided in this effort by the older Quechua of Cuzco themselves who had always bragged about their own abilities and ridiculed all other tribes.
The Inca were expert at weaving stories around the past that centered on themselves rather than the earlier peoples the stories were about
In addition, the Inca once they became bent on conquest and power, created a genealogy that was more fiction than fact, including Inca rulers that dated back several generations and their fictitiously exaggerated achievements in order to create an Inca myth that would spread their fame throughout the Andes, intimidate and frighten their enemies, and aid in their overpowering and conquering other tribes.
Garcilaso eagerly embraced these stories, which included ridiculous beginnings of the Inca people rising out of Lake Titicaca in ancient times. They knew the ancient stories of the Flood, and bent its events to their own purposes, as they did ancient legends of the Peruvian beginnings. The result was an incredible set of accomplishments attributed to the Inca, a high level of culture, and a past that stretched back hundreds of years into the distant past.
Garcilaso wrote down the stories told him, embellishing even those exaggerated accounts, to increase the standing of his defeated heritage
To Garcilaso, this was the perfect retaliation for the abuses he had personally suffered, and the falsifying of an Inca background that made his mother’s people look far better than they were—but more importantly, showing her people not only to have built a vast empire, but constructed buildings, temples, palaces, and city complexes far beyond their capability. And who was around to correct such falsifications? Certainly, not the Spanish who knew nothing different, not the ancients who wanted to believe in their history to offset the embarrassment of being conquered by a handful of upstart and illiterate Spaniards, and certainly not any written records, for there were none.
While many scholars today question the accuracy of Garcilaso’s history, many others accept his account as the most complete and accurate available. But if you were to walk the streets of Lima and other major Peruvian cities and talk to the literate descendants of the local, indigenous people whose stories and retold memories date back into antiquity, you will hear a very different version. The problem is, that the Inca story is good for tourism, and those who make their living in this trade, have found that tourists love to hear such stories about the Inca—about this people who once ruled the Andean domain, who built magnificent buildings with a technology that can hardly be duplicated today. They want to know about the ruins they have paid to visit, about the people who built them and lived within them. So bigger than life stories are told, with no one able to counter them, and the Inca myth grew over the years until now almost everything that can be seen, especially around Cuzco, is attributed to the Inca.
It is simply not economically prudent for the tourism industry to tell you what many privately know and discuss—that the Inca were late comers in Peruvian history, and built few of the great tourist attractions that line the pockets of most Peruvians, one way or the other, for tourism is the national product, and drives almost every business in the Andean cities and villages.
However, the Inca did not build the many sites attributed to them, did not build the roads they claimed to have constructed and, in fact, where evidence can be seen, their repairs of ancient complexes shows a complete lack of building ability.
(See the next post, “The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part IV,” for examples and comparisons of ancient building abilities with that of the more recent Inca stonework efforts)

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part II

For many years, the Inca have been given credit for much of the fabulous constructions found in the Peruvian Andes. They are credited with the building of Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuamán, and numerous other buildings, temples, palaces, and city complexes. Some of these sites, according to modern construction experts, would have taken hundreds of years, using tens of thousands of workers.
Satellite view of Cuzco city (bottom), and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman (center dirt area) on the cliff over looking the city and valley
One example is Sacsayhuaman (Saksaq Waman) a walled complex on the northern outskirts of Cuzco, it is located on a steep hill that overlooks the city, and provides an impressive view of the valley to the southeast. Its polished dry stone walls, each boulder carefully cut to fit together tightly without mortar, many weighing a  hundred tons, is of such workmanship that it still baffles modern stone workers today.
In addition to the remains of the obvious structure seen today, there were tall towers on its summit as well as a series of other buildings. One conquistador who visited the complex before the siege of 1556, wrote about the labyrinth-like quality of the complex and the fact that it held a great number of storage rooms filled with a wide variety of items, including military equipment. He also noted that there were buildings with large windows that looked over the city. These structures, like so much of the site, have long since been destroyed.
Because of its location high above Cuzco and its immense terrace walls that alone are an engineering marvel, as well as its position that maintains control over the city, this area of Sacsayhuaman is frequently referred to as a fortress, and was effectively used as such during Mano Inca’s siege in 1556.
The three-tiered, zig-zag rock walls protecting Sacsayhuaman on the north side of the fortress, while the cliff face protects it on the south where it overlooks the valley
While surface collections of pottery at Sacsayhuaman indicate that the earliest occupation of the hilltop dates back at least a millennium, and probably much more, the Inca claimed they built the fortress. Yet, when and how they could have accomplished such work is beyond the imagination when one considers what the Inca were doing during the time when they were the dominant power in the area (see the previous post).
The stones used in the construction of the terraces are among the largest used in any building in pre-hispanic America and display a precision of fitting that is unmatched in the Americas. The stones are so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco, and show a remarkable engineering knowledge by the builders.
The longest of the three walls is about 1300 feet (over four football fields long). They are about 20-feet tall, with an estimated volume of stone over 20,000 cubic feet. Estimates for the weight of the largest limestone block vary from 128 tons to almost 200 tons.
It is estimated by modern builders to have taken about 200 years to have completed, with close to two hundred thousand laborers involved. The problem in attributing the building to the Inca is that it is estimated they had no more than 40,000 total population in the Cuzco area prior to 1438. And over the next 90 years, they were so involved in conquest, with their armies and manpower spread over some 700,000 square miles, that one can only ask—when in the world did they have the time and manpower to build Sacsayhuaman. In addition, in the early years after 1438, during Pachacuti’s reign, the Inca were displacing the lower class ayllu to the far corners of the empire to strengthen the empire’s presence.
Two sections of the rock walls at Sacsayhuaman: Left: The large stone behind the woman is 22’ tall; Right: The stones of the first tier of the rock wall stands over 20’ high
So once again, how did the Inca have the time, manpower, and even the inclination, to build Sacsayhuaman during the short period of their power?
Another question abounds, and that is how did the Inca have the time to build the vast complex of roads and highways that were found throughout the area they conquered? If their armies were involved in building these roads, which would have taken many years, how did they have the time and energy to then fight vast battles.
As an example, this vast complex of roads covered a distance of 25,000 to 30,000 miles in length, the coastal road alone was 2,500 miles long, and the principle main north-south highway covered 3,700 miles in length. A third highway, 3,200 miles long, ran from Ecuador to Cusco to Chile, the major highways measured 24 feet across—the width of a modern four-land highway today. Some of the lesser roads were between 15 and 24 feet in width. Some roads were stepped up steep inclines, others were cut through solid stone mountains, some crossed over as many as 100 stone, wood or rope bridges, with some rope bridges across deep ravines and wide canyons—the one across the Apurímac River spanned a distance of 150 feet. There were distance markers every 4.5 miles, rest stations for travelers every 12 to 18 miles, and communication stations every 1.5 miles, which allowed a message to be passed over 1250 miles in five days. This allowed field commanders to communicate quickly with base commanders, such as when Helaman wrote to Moroni about his stripling warriors and the result of their battles (Alma 56:1, chapters 56-57-58).
These roads were so well engineered, with most made of stone, they have lasted through extreme weather, snow, ice, floods and earthquakes for two thousand years, many still usable today
The surfaces of many roads were intended for foot traffic, such as in moving armies over hills and up mountainsides, and could accommodate pack animals, such as llamas. Some of the roadways were paved with stone cobbles, such as those stepped up slopes and sharp inclines, some were natural dirt pathways, definitely marked with stone sidings. To traverse the mountainous regions these builders built long stairways and switchbacks; for lowland roads through marshes and wetlands they built causeways; crossing rivers and streams required bridges and culverts; and roads between desert oases were marked by low walls or cairns.
Architectural innovations along the trail included drainages through gutters and culverts, and in many places low walls delimited the road. In some places tunnels and retaining walls were built to allow safe navigation. In some cases, an entire outer wall hundreds of feet high were built to give a roadway access along cliff facings.
Again, a reasonable person must ask themselves, when did the Inca ever have time to build such engineering marvels as this vast highway system? Especially when they were so heavily committed to sending their manpower into far flung areas, covering hundreds of thousands of square miles.
Another interesting point is that there were numerous outpost forts built, especially moving outward from Cuzco. These stone outpost, or small forts, could have served only one purpose, since they were far too small to house garrisons of any size for battle. Their purpose is self-evident as warning outposts. However, again, one must ask, why would the Inca, who were expanding outward, with their nearby borders secured with their expansionist aggression, spend time, manpower and resources in constructing warning outposts near Cuzco, when their empire stretched for hundreds of miles beyond those limits?
The only possible answer to any of these questions is quite simple—the Inca never built any of this, but simply occupied what had been built long before them.
(See the next post, “The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part III,” to see what led to the Inca being credited with all this construction)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part I

For those who grew up in, or live in, the Andean area, and for those who spend a majority of their lives in this area, or those who come here and are interested in the history of the Andes and not just searching for treasure, or finds, or stories to make them famous, the question of the actual Inca history is a limited story. Only to those who are unfamiliar with the real history of the Andes, who only come here to occasionally excavate and study artifacts, ruins, and cultures, believe the Inca created all the things attributed to them.
Perhaps, for those who have been misled and misdirected about the Inca, we might present here a small glimpse of the real Inca—not the Inca often presented to those outside the Andean area, even by National Geographic and other well-known sources.
First real Inka ruler, Cusi Yupanqui, who later took on the name of Pachacuti, who defeated the Chanka and began the Inca Empire in 1438
First of all, the term Inca (Inka) actually relates to a person—one of the kings or rulers of the Inca state, or empire from about 1438 to 1530 A.D.—and actually means ruler or lord in Quechua. According to their own history, which is quite faulty, the term Sapa Inca was used, meaning loosely, the Great Inca. The term Inca also related to a member of the royal family of the Inca. Today, however, the term Inca relates to the Quechua people in highland Peru that established an empire from about 1438 to 1530 A.D., that stretched from northern Ecuador to central Chile between the coast and the Andes Mountains.
Initially, the people that later became the Inca, were a small group living in the Cuzco area. They were actually an insignificant pastoral tribe until they began to see themselves as more—creating an Inca state under its first ruler, and adopting the name “Kingdom of Cuzco” (Qusqu ‘Qosqo).
The problem with Inca history is found in the fact that the shadow of their actual history, events clouded in darkness and unsubstantiated except through the writings of an Inca apologist, himself the son of an Inca noble woman and a Spanish conquistador, only began in the latter half of the 13th century, somewhere around 1380 to 1410 A.D. Exactly when is not known, for the Inca always had the habit of making vast and elaborate claims about their origins and history that was unfounded and, in most cases, downright fabrications. It was also their habit to 1) claim all other peoples of the Andes were barbaric savages except for themselves, and 2) acquire and claim as their own the great things that had been done before by others.
Left and Right: Pachacuti (Pachacutec) in battle dress readying for the battle with the invading Chanka; Top Center:  The ancient God Virachocha (Creator of the Universe) which the Inca also used: Bottom Center: Portrait of Inca Pachacuti
The actual first Inca that can be fairly accurately claimed is that of Cusi Yupanqui, who later took on the name of Pachacuti, who was said to be the son of Viracocha, who supposedly headed the Inca from 1410 to 1438. It was Pachacuti (Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui or Pachacutec), who became Sapa Inca in 1438, who according to their history transformed the Inca from an insignificant hamlet tribe into a conquering nation.
At the time he became the Inca ruler, he was merely a warrior chieftan, and another people, called the Chanka, in the Andahuaylas region (Apurimac), who were renowned for being “bloody in battle,” were the power of the Andes. They created fear among their enemies by scalping and skinning prisoners alive. The Chankas came to power sometime after 1200 A.D. and were at their height in the early 1400s when they set their sites on the conquest of Cuzco.
Confident of their victory, the feared Chanka leader Uscovilca leads the attack against a smaller force defending Cuzco
So fearful of the Chanka, that when they approached Cuzco, the Inca ruler, Viracocha, Pachacuti’s father, and Urco, Pachacuti’s brother, who was destined to be the next Inca, cowardly fled Cuzco before the Chanka attacked. While his father and brother ran for cover, Pachacuti rallied the army and prepared for a desperate defense of his homeland. In the resulting battle, the Chanka were defeated so severely that legend tells even the stones rose up to fight on Pachacuti's side. Thus "The Earth Shaker" won the support of his people and the recognition of his father as crown prince and joint ruler, becoming the sole Inca in 1440.
Pachacuti died in 1471 from a terminal illness, and his son, Tupac Inca Yupanqui, took uncontested control, but his son, Huayha Capac, had to earn the position, and did so through expanding the empire, a highly authoritative and repressive government that arbitrarily displaced hundreds of thousands in massive programs of relocation and resettling to colonize the most remote edges of the empire.
It should be noted that in 1438, after the successful defeat of the Chanka, which gave the Inca renowned prestige throughout the area of Peru and enabled them to later expand their kingdom into an empire because of the lack of resistance among many small tribes, the Cuzco Inca were still a small kingdom. They, in no way, had sufficient people or resources to become involved in rebuilding Cuzco, as claimed, or in building such edifices as Sacsayhuaman, for which they are credited.
For the next 90 years, up to 1528 when the Spanish arrived in the Andes, the Inca were involved in expanding their empire from approximately 155,000 square miles to 700,000 square miles, from the Ancs Maya (Blue River) which is now known as the Patia River in southern Colombia, to the Maule River in Chile, and eastward from the Pacific Ocean to the edge of the Amazonian jungles. The empire covered some of the most mountainous terrain on earth. Scholars estimate that the population of the Inca Empire probably numbered over 16,000,000 by 1528—however, in no way were these obedient citizens, but a collection of more than 100 nations, held in check by a vast military network, that was called upon to fight battles over most of their existence.
Every territorial gain resulted in another war, which expanded the borders of the empire again. The larger the Inca Empire became, the greater the need for war to control territories the empire gained. Obviously, the Inca were a warlike people, and during that time the Inca were involved in fighting scores of battles from Chile to Ecuador—a 2500 mile long battle line, and from Cuzco to the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Amazon jungle to the east, and area just under 700,000 square miles. Their battles in central Chile were so long and difficult, they finally gave up their push southward, as were their aborted attempts to move into the Amazonas area to the east. In the north, the tribes in southern Colombia stubbornly stopped the Inca movement further in that direction.
The Incan army was always on the move and almost always at war
The point of this is simply that for 90 years of their existence, the Inca were so busy expanding the territory of their empire and fighting some one hundred different tribes or indigenous nations, they had little time for anything else. As they defeated one after another of these tribes, they found themselves administering or monitoring governments across hundreds of thousands of square miles. Consolidation of such a large empire was to become a continuing struggle for the ruling Inca as their influence reached across many advanced cultures of the Andes, and between fighting and control, the Inca had little or no time for social expansion, no time for building extensive structures or complexes, and certainly no time for such magnificent, time-consuming accomplishments as Sacsayhuaman, Kuelap, Pachacamac, and scores of other sites scattered throughout Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia that modern historians attribute to them.
While these areas came under Inca conquest in their 90-year zenith, they were not Inca in design or construction. Nor were the roads. In fact, had the roads not already existed, the Inca could never have accomplished the building of such a far-flung empire, for it was over these existing roads they moved their vast armies from one end of the empire to the other, constantly attacking smaller, less capable, and far less organized tribes. Of course, to appreciate the difficulty of moving troops over the terrain of the Andean area of South America in this 90-year period, one would have to travel this land, climb its hills and mountains, traverse the numerous cordillera valleys, ravines, gorges, and mountain passes. Had the Inca not already had those roads to traverse, their empire would not, and could not, have expanded much beyond the Cuzco area in such a limited time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Fortress, Archaeology and Anthropology – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, the question was raised, who were the Chachapoya that are credited with building Kuelap and Gran Pajaten, and other major sites in northern Peru?
First of all, we don't know what the Chachapoya called themselves—their history is shrouded in obscurity. What we know about them comes only from the Inca who conquered them, and the Spanish who conquered the Inca, and very little from both. Secondly, the word Chachapoya means “Warriors of the Clouds,” or “Could People,” in Quechua, a name given these people by the Inca upon first encountering them in their movement north from Cuzco.
What is known, is that they were a fierce warrior race who fought the Inca for many years, succumbing just prior to the arrival of the Spanish. They lived in the cloud forests of Amazonas, were known to the Spanish as only one of the many nations conquered by the Inca, though they constantly resisted the Inca even after being defeated. Since the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors were the principal sources of information on the Chachapoyas, there is little first-hand or contrasting knowledge about them.
As the Inca Empire swept across South America about 500 years ago, any enemy that dared oppose them was crushed into submission, with one notable exception. In the cloud forests of northern Peru, the Inca army came up against a fierce group of warriors known as the Chachapoya. But after years of rebellion, the Chachapoya civilization suddenly vanished
Writings by the major chroniclers of the time, such as Garcilaso de la Vega were based on fragmentary second-hand accounts. Much of what we do know about the Chachapoyas culture is based on archaeological evidence from ruins, pottery, tombs and other artifacts. Spanish chronicler Pedro Cieza de Leon noted that, “after their annexation to the Inca Empire, they adopted customs imposed by the Cuzco-based Inca.” By the 18th century, they were no longer a separate people. However, in the latter 1500s, Cieza also noted that among the indigenous Peruvians, the Chachapoya were unusually fair-skinned and famously beautiful, saying, “They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in [Andes] and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas' wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple. The women and their husbands always dressed in woolen clothes and in their heads they wear their llautos, which are a sign they wear to be known everywhere.”
The next question to ask is, did these Chachapoya have the ability to construct such edifices as Kuelap and Gran Pajaten? The answer lies in the fact that between about 500 A.D., the last possible date of Chachapoya site construction, and 1500 A.D., when they were conquered, there is no evidence of anything built by these people throughout what is considered the Chachapoya region. Yet, this was no small area—the Spanish called it an Empire, since it covered 503 miles by 62 miles, without counting the distance upward to Muyupampa, which is another 93 miles. Clearly, the Chachapoya controlled a very large region, though only a few major edifices have been found within its boundaries.
Spanish chronicles from the 16th century tell of a network of seven Chachapoyas cities strung like a necklace along the heights of the high jungle of northern Peru. Gran Saposoa is the name given to a series of ruins in the Andean cloud forests (335 miles north of Lima) that includes hundreds of round stone structures, covers approximately 80 square miles, and was home to about 20,000 occupants. This pre-Incan metropolis is located in Peru’s remote cloud forest, and was only discovered in 1999, with a recent expedition discovering a sixth citadel, at 12,000 feet elevation, with a 64-foot-wide avenue. He said the six interconnected districts discovered during five expeditions contain hundreds of circular stone buildings.
Gran Saposoa ruins, both square and round, in the Chachapoya architectural style
Atumpucro is a complex of over a hundred and fifty circular Chachapoya-stye buildings within an impressive stone fortification, similar to the Kuélap fortress, and perched on Atumpucro hill along the western shores of the Utcubamba River in the province of Luya. The city extends for more than two hectares, at an altitude of over 11,000 feet with the structures built on large terraces dug along the ridge of the mountain, with the old city surrounded by a wall 165 feet long and ten feet wide, with the complex described as being in a good state of preservation. The discoverer, explorer Martin Chumbe, said, “It is a beautiful place. All the houses have rectangular windows, niches and friezes all around.”
One of the round buildings at Atumpucro built on a terrace dug into the hill, with architecture in the Chachapoya style
“The architecture and the skilled work that has gone into building the site has allowed the building to survive for all this time despite their precarious location,” Chumbe said. This should suggest to anyone that the nature of the construction was beyond the level of such a group who had not advanced beyond the level of the Chachapoya culture.
The same type of stonework is found on all of these Chachapoya sites, showing a degree of art beyond simple brickwork
The point of all this is simply that all these “Chachapoya” structures, Kuelap, Gran Pajaten, Gran Saposoa, Atumpucro, and the few others, were, first, built by the same people, using the same architectural design of their buildings, etc., and second, would have been built around the same time. There are two very important points made from this: 1) The carbon dating of 200 B.C. for the people who settled these areas is far too early for any Chachapoya longevity (1600 years before their conquest, and 1800 years before their demise), and 2) The Chachapoya was not a nation, or an empire, but some sort of federation of small states centered on numerous settlements scattered across their mountainous territory, and thus unlikely to have had the same design ideas, abilities, interests, let alone the manpower of a single group to build such edifices as Kuelap and the others.
Thus, we come back to the question, who built these impressive cities, fortresses, and complexes?
Kuelap, itself, along with the others, are in a region so distant and neglected until recently, that little archaeological research has been done at these important sites, and our knowledge of them remains vague. An adjacent site named La Mallca, larger though less dramatic than Kuelap, has not been studied at all.
Consequently, while we cannot attribute these magnificent constructions to the Chachapoya, who evidently never duplicated these efforts over the claimed 1600 years of their existence, we have no knowledge of any other group between the demise of the Nephites and the coming of the Spanish, capable of building such edifices. So why not place the construction where we have written records of a people capable of building such cities, and a written record of their building numerous others?
The Nephites.