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Ancient Cultures & the “Civilization” cycle

Ancient Cultures & the “Civilization” cycle

However, the purpose of the megalithic wall of Sacsayhuaman is not the only mystery left to us by the ancient architects. The construction technology remains to be a mystery as well. It is just 50 years ago that the modern science, due to the input of the American researchers, adopted the thesis that all of the known masonry techniques at the Inca monuments pertained to Incas. Although earlier many of the researchers believed that the cyclopean stone constructions must have been erected by a rather developed ancient culture which existed there long before the accession of Inca.

Indeed, according to the present-day perceptions, Incas came to the valley of Cusco and found their capital there around 1200 BC. However, this fertile territory was densely inhabited yet before their arrival. The archaeological research, including that conducted at the territory of Sacsayhuaman, confirm this idea. The artefacts that were found at this territory signify of the existence of earlier cultures, which existed there centuries before the arrival of Incas. Even more, the Incan Empire, that spread its power over the majority of the Western part of South America, lasted in fact for only less than 1 century. Until the succession of Inca Pachacuti Yupanqui to the throne (1438 – 1471) the Kingdom of Cusco was one of the many formations in Andes, by far not the largest one. And even until then the Inca had to survive engaging themselves into the constant wars with their closest neighbours.

It is hard to imagine how the ancient Peruvians, with the help of the most-simple tools only, managed to erect such a magnificent building made of the monolithic stone blocks weighing dozens of tons each. The full scope of work assumed stone-cutting works in the mines, stone delivery to the sites (for rather long distances by the way), treatment of stones at the site and, finally, the masonry. Sacsayhuaman is the most sublime, but not the only existing monument of the similar cyclopean construction. In the so-called “Tsar valley”, where Cusco is located, there survived until our times also other monuments which comprise large megalithic constructions – Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, etc. Some of them are located on the high mountain peaks and where it is not very easy to climb to, while transporting the several dozen stone blocks onto those steep slopes is a mission close to impossible even in the present conditions.

One of the most famous Spanish chroniclers, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, in his “Los Comentarios Reales de los Incas»” described the following incident. One of the Incan kings decided to deliver to one of the “tired stones” to the place of the next construction site. The “tired stones” – this is how the Inca called the large-tonnage processed monoliths which were not yet installed into the constructions, but were laying close to them waiting for their turn. One can find such blocks at the foot of Ollantaytambo nowadays. So, for this mission the king appointed 20 000 Indians to drag that stone with the help of ropes. At some place the stone fell down off the cliff and squashed 3 000 people. Naturally, one should not put too much emphasis on the specific number of people involved into that operation, since the ancient chroniclers used to exaggerate these figures. The major question concerns another domain: according to this evidence, Incas were not only incapable of to construct such tremendous buildings, but they couldn’t even transport such blocks. Even more, in this source it is stated clearly that in the times of Incas these constructions already existed and were already prone to major damage. Then who and when was capable of constructing such monuments? The modern science has no information about any civilizations existing on this territory before Inca and which would be more advanced then Inca. A number of researchers, usually not related to the academic circles, believe that this was created by some ancient “megalithic civilization”, while Incas, who were the last to come to this region, simply acquired the ancient legacy and made use of the construction experience of the predecessors.

This hypothesis is also supported by other archaeological facts which deal, in first place, with the technology of stone treatment in the ancient times. At the foot of the tremendous walls of Sacsayhuaman there stretched a vast square. In the ancient times it was completely filled in with the various temples and residential buildings which were later disassembled by the Spaniards. From the opposite side (opposite to the walls of Sacsayhuaman) the square is bound by a rock crest Hill Suchuno. It’s a dome-like diorite formation (magmatic rock formation), who’s surface reminds of the shell of a scallop available in plenty at any seaside beach. At the different slopes of this hill, in a very solid formation there are cut the multiple footsteps and niches. The quality of the performed work is so high that it’s impossible to imagine that this was done by the stone or bronze tools. In addition, there exist no justified hypotheses regarding the purpose of such architectural constructions. For example, the so-called “throne of the Inca” – two layers of footsteps at the Eastern slope of the hill Suchuno – possesses the smoothly polished facets intersecting strictly perpendicularly which have basically not suffered any damages throughout all of the centuries (or even millenniums) of their existence. It’s worth highlighting that the solidity of diorite is higher than that of the basalt and it requires very labor-intensive processing.

During one of the trips to Sacsayhuaman, at the Eastern slope of the hill we have discovered the strange saw cut traces in the diorite rock. Along the edge of a crack that appeared as a result of a split of a large piece of formation, we saw the saw cut traces left by an unknown instrument. The cut was 1-2 centimeters deep and several meters long. For the modern man such trace would be the sign of a disk (!) saw. But it’s impossible to assume, that the ancient Peruvian constructors were using such tools. Neither one can admit that these are the tracks of the modern-times restorers. Judging by the traces, the diameter of this saw must have been not less than 1.5 meters!” “

Ancient Cultures & the “Civilization” cycle

Ancient Cultures & the “Civilization” cycle

I have visited Cusco & Machu Picchu twice. There are three the distinct types of stone construction: What appears to be the original is the same as what can be seen at Saqsaywaman (photos above), next is a cruder form with gaps in the joints and some use of mortar (perhaps added by the Inca?) and the last, and crudest, is the current “repair” work construction. South of Cusco where the valley narrows there is a structure that appears to be a “gateway”. Again, the original construction is the very precise architecture, while some amount of less precise stone work has been added on.

I consider the Cusco/Machu Picchu examples more than circumstantial evidence of lost technology. More specifics from the Arcana Factor on this amazing site above Cusco follows:

“Sacsayhuaman: the mysteries of the ancient Peruvian architects
of Historical Sciences In the north-western suburb of the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, there’s a steep hill floating up above the ancient city. It has the name of Sacsayhuaman. In the language of Quechua – the language that was spoken by the patrials of the Empire in the ancient times – this means “a satiated hawk”.   This language is still widely used by 12 million of the citizens of the South America.

At the top of this hill there is one of the greatest monuments of the ancient Peruvian architecture. In 1983 Sacsayhuaman (as well as the whole city of Cusco) was included into the UNESCO World Heritage List. The central part of this archaeological monument is represented by the three zigzag walls located one after another, fringing the slope of the hill. The length of each of the walls reaches 350 m. Their height varies from 4 to 5 meters (for the bottom wall) and up to 3 meters (for the top wall). Each of them has more than 20 prominent «bastions», which add to the zigzag shape of the walls. Each of the walls has one or two passages to the next level. The walls are compiled of the large, thoroughly processed blocks of the so-called grey Yucay limestone. The lower wall consists of the largest blocks which have the height of 2-3 meters and the weight of hundreds of tons. The weight of the biggest block amounts to 360 tons, while its height is 8.4 meters. The blocks have a different shape, but despite this they are fit together with unbelievable precision. It’s impossible to squeeze even the knife’s blade between them. The walls are made without any mortar, but with the help of a technology which is nowadays called the polygonal masonry. Many of the bulges are sophisticatedly carved so that to match the shape of the adjacent boulders. This way, the blocks are fit together just like the elements of a puzzle. Engineers believe, that this type of masonry provided the maximum stability and safety of the construction in such an earthquake endangered zone as the valley of Cusco.

Remarkable is the fact that the blocks of the prominent bastions are rounded. That means that for the ancient developers it was not a problem to trim the facets of the 3-4 meters’ high monoliths just for rendering them the rounded shape. In addition, the whole surface of the blocks was thoroughly polished yet in the ancient times. Nowadays, of course, the signs of erosion are very much evident at all of the stones.

At the top of the hill there remained the remnants of the Inca buildings, including the foundation of the three towers. The main tower consisted of the 5 levels and had the multiple premises. The towers were made of the smaller hewn blocks which were a pale comparison to the gigantic monoliths of the lower walls.

According to the historic, which survived until our times in the Spanish chronicles, the construction of Sacsayhuaman was started by the great Inca Emperor and conqueror Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438 – 1471), and continued during the reign of his successors all the way until the start of the civil wars in the Empire in 1528. In fiction books Sacsayhuaman is usually referred to as a fortress or a citadel. Indeed, its cycloptic walls evoke the impression of indestructible might. However, Sacsayhuaman was not in fact a fortress. From the Spanish sources there come the information that it was only once that the hill was subjected to assault.

Having conquered Cusco in 1534, the Spanish conquistadors have enthroned Manco Inca Yupanqui, the son of the last great Inca Huayna Capac. However, it is already in 1536 that Manco Inca raised a revolt against the Spanish conquistadors. In May of that year a huge army of Inca (as of the chroniclers’ data, it counted between 100 and 200 thousand people) put Cusco under the siege. The Indians took possession of the Sacsayhuaman hill and from its top began to bombard the city, where the Spaniards have settled, with the fire shells. So that to avoid a disastrous defeat, the conquistadors attempted with a counterattack of the hill and on day they succeeded and seized it. They managed to win due to application of the assault ladder during a night raid. And there’s nothing unexpected or unusual in such a result of the fight, because for the soldiers who have already had an experience of assaulting the European castles, there was no problem with conquering the 5-6 meters walls of Sacsayhuaman.

In other words, this sole episode of the military action in Sacsayhuaman evidently demonstrates that this grandiose construction has never been a fortress in fact. Even more – some of the Spanish chroniclers noted that Sacsayhuaman was in first place a tremendous temple complex, the True House of the Sun (as some chroniclers used to call it) to enter into which was the right enjoyed solely by the Incas. Nowadays it’s impossible to imagine the architecture of the Inca Sacsayhuaman. The chroniclers did not leave enough of the detailed descriptions, while after the suppression of the mutiny of 1536 the Spaniards began proactive disassembling of the complex. The perfectly processed stone blocks of Sacsayhuaman were used for the construction of Cathedrals and residential buildings of the central part of colonial Cusco.

Centuries later the religious tradition transformed into a theater show. Nowadays annually on July 24 in Sacsayhuaman they celebrate the Inti Raymi (the festival of Sun) – the annual celebration of the winter solstice which attracts thousands of tourists.

Still more on this topic in next week’s post

Ancient Cultures & the “Civilization” cycle

Ancient Cultures & the “Civilization” cycle

During my early educational process, I had assumed that civilization was developed through a logical process of incremental steps from the earliest cave dwelling humanoids on to the present day which was the pinnacle. In recent years my view has changed. I now suspect that there have been numerous cycles that involved the movement toward civilized and more advanced groups of humanity only for that attempt to eventually devolve for reasons that have eluded us, or perhaps not. Did not the Greek city states & Rome have advanced architecture, engineering and enlightened forms of governance? When compared to the “Dark Ages” it appears than European civilization devolved.

Other examples of this can be seen in the Mayan and other civilizations of Mexico and Central & South America.

This above is more than circumstantial evidence which brings me to my hypothesis (one that is shared by an increasing number). We know little other than what has been recorded and much of that was documented after the fact. When tend to not believe verbal history, even though much of what was recorded in the oldest books was a recounting of verbal stories. It seems that merely writing it down provides credibility?

What I propose is that there likely have been ancient civilizations with some amazing technologies, but that knowledge has been lost. Conventional wisdom provides that the Step pyramid was the oldest and that the Giza pyramids were later improved versions. Also, that pyramids were built as tombs for various pharaohs. I suspect that the Giza pyramids were much older and the Step pyramid was an attempt to replicate that architecture at a much later date. Also, there is no direct evidence that the purpose of a pyramid was as a burial chamber as no body or even a sarcophagus has ever been found in any pyramid. The notion that the crude box found in the Great Pyramid was intended to be a sarcophagus is laughable. 

The notion that the amazing stone work at both Cusco and Machu Picchu was accomplished by the Incas seems incredible to me. Their culture was in power for a very short time (less than 100 years), they apparently could not envision using a wheel in any capacity and yet they had mastered the technology of moving a 360- ton boulder over ten miles and up a 45-degree slope for a ½ mile. Then they positioned it to fit between two other large boulders in such a way that it fit so precisely that not even a razor blade can penetrate the joints (and no mortar was used). They then positioned another level of boulders on top, some weighing over 100 tons, so that they had the same precision of fit. There are several thousand stones in the 50 – 150 ton category at the site! They went from an agrarian society to one with this technological capability in less than 100 years! Does this make any sense at all?

More on this topic in next week’s post