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Entries about archaeology

Lima arrival

Thursday 16th August 2012- Arrive Lima
We left Heathrow early (VERY EARLY) on the morning of the 16th. In fact, so early that we arrived before most of the flight staff! You can’t book in the requisite 2 hours if you are leaving at 6.30 and the staff don’t arrive until 6! Still, it was a really easy check in. The flight left promptly and we arrived in Madrid at mid morning, time to have a snack, before catching our Iberia flight to Lima. Although it’s a long flight, it was quite interesting view-wise. The most amazing thing for us was suddenly realising that in fact it was not the Atlantic that we had been crossing for 4 hours, but the Amazon forest. Definitely WOW.
48879366571_2fee53f846_o.jpgWe must have kept up with the sun, because amazingly it was still the daytime of the 16th as we crossed the Andes (brilliant view as it was a cloudless day). The divide between the fertile Amazonian east and the arid west of the mountain was really clear.

The reason for this is that, despite the moist Pacific air, almost all the rivers of the Amazon flow east, down into the Amazon basin, leaving the western side very dry. The hills this side look layered and sandy.
The plane crossed the whole city of Lima (nice view), out to sea (Pacific), past some islands, and back into Lima airport.

We realised we had now crossed the Equator (for our first time ever). It was a very easy entrée to Peru, and we arrived at the entrance hall at early dusk (5 pm local time) to be met by our guide. He finally found his taxi and we drove through Lima to Miraflores along the beach, up the cobbled hilly entrance to the area, past the huge casinos and some very lightweight “adult” shops to our pleasant hotel, Casa Andina (Petit Thouars St).
MIRAFLORES is an upscale luxury district of Lima with parks, bars, boutiques, galleries, hotels and restaurants. It is built on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. In the centre is Parque Kennedy- a vibrant park often with entertainment. The ancient site of Huaca Pucllana, a pre- Inca mud brick temple, is found here (see our last day in Peru for more on this).

We had a room on the fourth floor, so it was nice and quiet. As it was only early evening we decided on a walk before a meal and bed, to help us readjust to a new time zone. The concierge (who was helpful and friendly) suggested we go left, so we headed out to the next road and turned left down Calle Enrique Palacios. A 5 minute walk brought us to a local supermarket. The green area (fruit & veg) had plenty of familiar fruit (the joys of globalisation) and some we had never seen before, though they looked quite exciting. In the end we only needed water, raisins and some biscuits so we grabbed these and paid.

Some local fruits we knew- cape gooseberry, papaya, dragonfruit, passionfruit/ granadilla, tamarillo (the deadly nightshade/ tomato relative we get in W’rose- pic right).
28919880-5a86-11eb-9e3f-e97f0c77ccfb.png28007c10-5a86-11eb-9e3f-e97f0c77ccfb.pngLots of native fruits we knew nothing about- taperiva (like a green potato), cupuaçu (a cocoa tree relative with fruit like a small coconut shell previous left), ungurahui (like big blueberries), guanabana (like a prickly gooseberry- below right), pepino (like a small stripy melon), cherimoya/ custard apple, mammee apple.
Some vegetables we’d never before seen- pacay (a sweet peanut family legume aka the “ice-cream bean” left) and yacon (a tuber).

It was time to head back for supper so we went back to the hotel as the food in the restaurant looked nice. We asked the waitress for recommendations, so she suggested soup (Aguadito de pollo or Peruvian chicken soup with coriander). Steve wanted the tres leche pudding (it’s a well known Peruvian dessert- sponge cake with three milks- condensed, evap and cream), but he found it a bit too sweet. Glad I stuck to

the Mazamorra morada (typically Limeñan, like a sort of jelly with fruit and purple coloured as it’s made from the purple corn they grow in Peru). We washed it all down with a lovely Arequipa pale beer whilst many locals watched a match on the TV. An early night (by Peruvian time, but it was about 3 am our time!)

Lima is the capital (and the largest city) of Peru. Nearly 2 million people live there (making it the 5th largest in South America). Before the Spanish arrived the valley between the Rimac, Chillon and Lurin rivers was occupied by the pre-Inca culture of the Huari (or Wari) who were part of the polity of Icshma/ Ycshma/ Itchyma. The wooden statue (left) is typical of the culture’s artefacts. This culture was taken over, probably fairly peacefully, by the Incan Empire in the 15th century AD. During the Incan Civil War (see later) the Lima area was held by Inca Atahualpa, who was himself defeated by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizzaro in 1532. The King of Spain granted Pizzaro the Lima area and he built a city close by. He named it La Cuidad de los Reyes, The City of Kings, and it was inaugurated 18th Jan 1535. The rebel Inca leader, Manco Inca, besieged Lima in Aug 1536 but failed to take it and concentrated his efforts back in the Inca heartlands. Lima became the capital of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru in 1543 and quickly gained power (and especially after it was granted a Real Audienca, which was a derogation of judicial and administrative powers from the crown of Spain to the Viceroy) and flourished throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It was the centre of the Latin Spanish trade network and the trade in gold and silver from Peruvian-Bolivian mines. This attracted pirates and privateers, which led to the strengthening of the city walls (1684-7) under Viceroy Melchior de Navarra y Rocafull, although these suffered in the 1687 earthquake. A more powerful earthquake in 1746 destroyed most of Lima and all of Port Callao. The influential Viceroy Jose Antonia Manso de Velasco, spent much of his time rebuilding the city. The Bourbon Reforms of the 18thcentury led to a decline in the city's fortunes as it lost its trading monopolies and the elite began to entrench their position. In 1820 Argentine and Chilean freedom fighters under General Jose de San Martin attacked, forcing Viceroy Jose de la Serna to sign a Declaration of Independence. When Peru finally gained Independence in 1826 Lima became the capital of The Republic of Peru. During the War of the Pacific (more later) Chilean troops briefly occupied Lima. As the city expanded more people from the Andean regions moved to Lima, creating shanty towns (pueblos jovenos).

Posted by PetersF 18:49 Archived in Peru Tagged lima miraflores archaeology inca pachacamac Comments (0)

Pachacamac - an ancient Peruvian site

Friday 17th August – Pachacamac

We woke normal Peru time (thank goodness) and had a pleasant hotel breakfast (after spotting some interesting tea choices of manzanilla (apple- I loved this), anise and coca. We were up early enough to walk to the chocolate shop Xocxactl and to the nearby Parque Kennedy, where we saw a sweet cat and a beautiful flowering tree.
After packing and dropping out bags at the desk we were collected by our private guide, Maria, at 9 o’clock. The small minibus drove us out of Miraflores along the Pacific towards the Christ statue on the hill. Apparently this 37m statue of Cristo del Pacifico is a bit controversial. It was only erected last year (2011) by Alan Garcia (the departing president) as a gift. Our guide complained that it was basically just a copy of the Rio Christ the Redeemer.
Then we headed inland along the main Pan-American through the suburbs.
There were loads of small, half finished houses built up the hills. Apparently, in Peru, you only pay house tax (like taxe d’habitation) when you declare your house complete. Hence no house was ever technically complete- many houses had semi- construction on their roofs as if for another floor. So, poorer households save for each section of work, sometimes taking several years e.g. for bricks to replace corrugated iron, then for plaster etc. Only very wealthy people say their houses are finished- like some wealthy parts of Lima to the north. 48878876288_a790b2bec4_o.jpgWe continued out of Lima towards Pachacamac (town). The hills around Lima are very interesting as they look like layers of sand, folded over- so very different to what we see. Then, a short drive to Pachacamac Archaeological site. We parked the minibus in the front. A small group of llama went past with a herder and several very friendly hairless Inca hounds. When I asked, our guide said it was government policy to put native flora and fauna on archaeological sites for authenticity.
Firstly we went into the excellent Pachacamac Museum. It was arranged mainly chronologically, with a nod to themes. We looked initially at the Huari/ Wari culture who preceded the Inca in Pachacamac (who only ruled the area for a very short time). The pottery was beautiful as was their totem to Pachacamac (look at it using the mirror to see both sides properly). I found the quipu examples very interesting.
The Inca were a pre-literate society, but as a highly organised and centralised empire, wanted to keep tabs on what was going on. Their means to this end was the quipu. This was a long string hung with series of shorter, knotted strings. 48879394466_3e7683279b_o.jpg
By varying the knot type, the distance between knots and the colours, they could record troops, tributes, agricultural produce, population and probably their legends/ stories. It was almost writing. It would be read or “written” by a quipucamayo (memory guide). Unfortunately the Spanish did not agree with “unchristian” writing and he ability to read the quipu has been lost.

Then out of the museum to drive into the site and up to the first structure- a beautiful stepped structure (I always hesitate to say pyramid as, although the shape name is correct, the link with burial Egyptian-style can confuse).

48878865993_e77da85ac2_o.jpgPachacamac was a pre-Inca site built by the Moche and Huari between 200-800AD with Inca additions 800-1450 AD. It is 30 km south of Lima and the Temples of the Sun and Moon are especially impressive. The buildings are made of sun-dried bricks and only the aridity of the site has preserved them. So far 17 pyramids have been discovered along with a cemetery. An Early Intermediate (200-600AD) multicoloured fish fresco is impressive. The Huari (Wari) 600-800AD built the city as an administrative centre and their designs appear on much excavated material. Between 800 and 1450 (when the Inca arrived) the Huari Empire had collapsed and a confederacy, the Ichma (Yschsma), was in control. The Ichma joined the Inca Empire who included the Huari creator god Pacha Kamaq into their pantheon, retaining his oracle. Pacha Kamaq means Earth-maker and the Inca added him as a brother to Manco Capac. Another legend places him, Viracocha (the Inca creator god) and Manco as sons of Inti. In this version he makes man and woman but forgets to feed them. The starving
woman asks Inti to become their god and her son Wichama (?Viracocha) throws Pacha Kamaq into the sea to become God of the fish! The Inca 1450-1532AD built five more buildings: the large Temple of the Sun, The Acllahuasi (Chosen Women or Maidens House) for their sacrificial woman, the Palace of Taurichumbi (for the emperor) and the Seat of the Peregrinos (Pilgrims to the oracle) are all Inca additions. Sadly, Francisco Pizarro heard about Pachacamac in 1532, when holding Atahualpa prisoner, and sent an expedition to seize all the gold and silver there and destroy the oracle.
The structure is currently being excavated and restored and its design and building was very clear. Bisecting it was the main North-South road, with
high protective walls.
We continued our drive clockwise round the site where we could very clearly see the limits of Pachacamac town (the site boundaries are government marked as, even though not visible, it is clear that there is a lot of archaeology to find). The houses come right along the edge of the site. We stopped to look over the Palace of TauriChumpi (below- access not currently available).
The Inca did not rule Lima for long, but a look at their “conquest” tactics is interesting. They operated a divide and rule system. A tribe/ confederation would be earmarked and the leader “invited” to join the empire. If he agreed, and most did, he would become an important regional leader. His children would be educated in Cusco (as elite hostages) and taught the Inca way of life before returning as the next leaders. A second thrust
would see enforced movements of people to areas they did not know (often speaking a different language) and a move of local Quecha speakers (as the Inca were) to troublesome areas (as with the Han).
A note on the Wari Culture
Also known in the Spanish version, Huari. They were a Middle Horizon culture in the central Andes, in a similar area to the later Inca, 500-1000AD. Their capital city, also called Wari, is close to modern Ayacucho/ Huamanga. There are a number of their ruins in the Cusco area, including Pikillaqta (south of Cusco- we saw it whilst driving from Puno to Cusco). They probably added to the building of Sacsayhuaman. The Wari extended, much as the Inca did later, north towards modern Lima where they took over the ancient oracle of Pacha Kamaq and built the temples and administrative centre of Pachacamac, as well as adding to Huaca Pucllana. They were a centralised state, which could reasonably be described as an empire. They built temple, roads and terraces. Like the Inca they were pre-literate, but clearly had significant social groupings.
In 2013 an undisturbed tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey was discovered with 3 royal or noble women with high status grave goods. They probably fell foul of a prolonged drought c800AD and by 1000AD most of their population centres had dramatically declined, and raiding/ intergroup warfare had become common.
Then we drove around past the Painted Temple (so called because much of the original red paint is clearly visible) and ended up parking at the bottom of the Temple of the Sun. A huge cactus impressively sat by the minibus as we began the gentle(ish) walk up to the temple. For me, it was interesting to see details of the original construction (a core of earthquake resistant boulders covered by mud-clay plaster that was clearly originally painted red and white- some still visible.) It’s estimated that over 50 million sun-dried clay bricks were used to build this temple alone! The Temple(s) are in fact, four pyramids, superimposed, built on an imposing rocky outcrop with spectacular ocean and inland views.
48878852098_6d9c3febac_o.jpg48879569372_a1eeb153f8_o.jpgWe walked around the temple on the zigzag path, which was probably also the original Inca entrance to the top where we rewarded by a magnificent view- out to the low pre-Andes one way and the Pacific and Islas de Pachacamac the other way. Our guide explained about the niches and the practise of sacrifice. Apparently, according to her, young noble people (mainly girls) would be raised in seclusion. If everything in the world was good (i.e. your sacrifice was not needed) when you became a woman you would be discharged and helped to find a good husband. However, if things were going pear-shaped (e.g. famine, no rain) you would be required for a sacrifice (which they may well have considered an honour!). The niches and seats at the top are known as the Pilgrims Seats (Sieti de Peregrinos).
We walked back down and the minibus took us to the last important structure- the reconstructed Maidens Temple or Acllahuasi (House of the Chosen Women). Now many people get all hot under the collar about reconstructions (see the fuss about Crete), but if done well, can give a real insight into how they lived. The reconstructed building shows the classic Inca architecture of a zigzag entrance, trapezoidal doorways and polished granite foundations. The Maidens (who would be priestesses by definition) living quarters look simple.

Posted by PetersF 18:49 Archived in Peru Tagged peru lima llama archaeology inca pachacamac Comments (0)

Nazca; Peruvian history

Deserts, plane rides, archaeology, those lines!

Saturday 18th August – Paracas to Nazca

The coach trip took us from Paracas, through the paracas (sand dunes) down the Pan- American Highway, through the town of Ica (dusk), across a plain, over some small mountains, across Nazca Plain, over some other smallish mountains for about 3 hours to Nazca, where we arrived in the early evening. Our taxi took our luggage from the coach station (much busier than Paracas) while we walked up the main street. The town reminded us very much of Yangshuo in China. The Casa Andina was a lovely hotel with a glass lobby, a huge open central vestibule with palms and slate maps of the lines all open to the rainless air. Our room was on the second floor, which was based around the central section (which also had a swimming pool). A functional, but pleasant room. It was not very late so we decided to find somewhere to eat a small, simple meal before walking the town. We went right out of the hotel and opposite found a small café / restaurant. We went upstairs to the balcony area and ate their special (noodle soup, beer, pancake and ice-cream pud) for only a few soles. The ice cream was of Lucuma (Gold of the Incas), which is a native fruit well know to Inca and pre-Inca cultures (pottery). It’s yellow flesh tastes a bit like maple.
When we’d finished we walked back to the hotel, but kept on going, past the night clubs to the Plaza de Armas. A pretty, very blue looking plaza with a central blue-mosaiced fountain and the cathedral/church on the side. We sat for a while here as it was pleasantly warm, before heading back to the hotel for a nightcap.

Spanish-Peruvian History
1. Pizarro and Almagro
In 1494 the Treaty of Tordesillas between Portugal and Spain agreed which parts of the New World each one claimed. After Pizarro had effectively neutralized the Inca Empire he and his fellow conquistador, Diego de Almagro, were granted control of the new lands by the Spanish King Carlos I. After taking Quito, de Almagro felt he had been cheated out of his fair share and fell out with Pizarro (1535). His son El Mozo Diego de Almagro, by his native Panamanian wife, attacked Pizzaro in Lima in 1541, then went after the Inca Sapa Manco II, killing him (see Inca history section). This was pretty much the end of the Inca Empire.
The feud between the Pizarros and Almagros led Carlos (now King of Spain and HRE) to set Peru up as a Viceroyalty
2. Viceroyalty 1543-1824
The first Viceroy to arrive was Blasco Nunez Vela. His title was Viceroy of New Castile (=Peru). He was promptly murdered 1546 by Gonzalo Pizarro, who then claimed the viceroyalty. The second viceroy, Pedro de la Gasca was having none of it and executed Gonzalo after his defeat in the Battle of Jaquijahuana (1548). Gasca was a strong man and the title now became Viceroy of Peru 1547-50, instituting an Audiencia in Lima (an Audiencia basically meant the Viceroy had administrative and judicial powers derogated from the king- a practical measure given the distance but obviously important symbolically).
Six short lived viceroys (Antonio de Mendoza 1551/2, Melchor Brava de Saravia 1552-6, Andres de Mendoza 1556-61, Diego Lopez de Zuniga 1561-4, Juan de Saarvedra 1564, Garcia de Castro 1564-9) preceded Viceroy Francisco de Toledo (appointed1569, arrived 1572). He established an Inquisition in Peru, executed the Inca Tupac Amaru and destroyed Vilcabamba. A succession of viceroys followed, some more effective than others, and all keen to convert the locals. The Jesuits were especially proactive in this area. Fernando Torres de Portugal (1584-9), Francisco de Borja y Aragon (1615-21), Fernandez de Cordoba (1622-9) and Fernandez de Castro (1667-72) stand out in one way or another. The encomienda system was badly run, leading to lots of abuses. Although it was legally abolished in 1720, it in practise continued well into the 18th century.
The local people were not well treated and revolts were common:-
i) Pedro Bohorquez 1656. Claimed to be Sapa Inca
ii) Jose and Gaspar Salcedo 1665-8. Mine owners
iii) Juan Santos Atahualpa 1742-80. A Cusco Inca who claimed descent from Atahualpa. He took Cusco. Despite his death in 1755 the rebellion continued until 1780.
iv) Tupac Amaru II. Tupac came from the Inca royal family and his Cusco Sierra Uprising of 1780, although ultimately unsuccessful, is regarded as the first freedom fight. His family was killed in front of his eyes, he was then tortured and beheaded. His son was taken to Spain.
3. Wars of Independence 1810-24
In South America there was increasingly a wish for independence and two landowners, Simon Bolivar (from Venezuela, but gave his name to Bolivia) and Jose de San Martin (from Argentina) began the fight. San Martin marched to Chile where he defeated the royal troops at the Battle of Chacabuco before sailing to Paracas in 1819 with the newly free Chilean navy. He took Lima in 1821 and declared Peru free. De facto, Peru was free although further fights -1824 battles Jurin and Ayacucho and Battle of Callao were needed before the Spanish finally formally agreed in 1879.
4. Republic 1820-80
Simon Bolivar was made Dictator of Peru in 1824 (having already liberated Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia) and Antonio de Sucre given military command. In 1825 at the Congress of Upper Peru the Gran Colombia was formed (mainly Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia). Bolivar attempted some liberal policies, but soon reverted to a centrist approach. Shortly after, his lover, Manuela Saenz attempted to assassinate him. He resigned and left for Europe, but died before sailing. He was followed by competent but uninteresting leaders. The period saw a number of territorial disputes resulting from the liberation and early pan- American coalitions. 1836-9 the Peru-Bolivian Confederation attempt to unite the countries failed with the War of Confederation. The Ecuadorian-Peruvian War of 1941 and brief Cenepa War of 1995 have led to formalised borders.
5. War of the Pacific
In 1879 Chile attacked its northern neighbour, Bolivia, seizing its entire coastline. Bolivia asked for help and Peru joined the war, which was basically won by Chile. By 1884 Peru had lost Tarapaca, Tacna and Arica (Atacama region). In the treaty Chile agreed that Tacna and Arica cities could decide which country to be in, then reneged. The USA waded in and in the Treaty of Lima 1929 Arica was given to Chile and Tacna to Peru. The Peruvians still feel very strongly about this.
6. Aristocratic Republic 1884-1930
So called because most of the presidents during this period came from the elite. The ordinary people became increasingly disenchanted. Socialist and Communist parties were formed at this time.
7. Modern Politics
President Bustamente y Rivero attempted to form a democratic government by limiting both noble and military power. The final result was a military coup in 1948 by General Manuel Odria. He courted the lower classes, but civil rights were suppressed and corruption grew. He surprised all by allowing elections, but a right-wing series of rulers ensued. Civilian vs military coups became the rule until 1980 when a new constitution was drawn up and civilian rule ensured. In 1985 Alan Garcia tried to manage an economy in trouble, but badly mismanaged it so by 1991 the national reserved were -$900mill. This was the background to the rise of the communist rebel group The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). As their strength grew the administration became increasingly dictatorial with human rights abuses. The people chose a mathematician Alberto Fujimori as president (1990), hopeful that he could help mend the economy. His fight against the Shining Path led to abuses on both sides until its leader Abimael Guzman (aka Gonzalo) was captured in 2000. Fujimori tried to seek a third term (questionable) but stepped down when a bribery scandal broke, followed by human rights, corruption etc charges. The new president, Alejandro Toledo restored democracy and judicial process to Peru. The current President is Ollanta Humala (2011-)

Posted by PetersF 12:46 Archived in Peru Tagged desert history archaeology nazca Comments (0)

Nazca: the famous lines

Sunday 19th August – the Nazca Lines

This was (I’d hoped) going to be one of my dream days as I’d always wanted to see the Nazca lines, so I woke with a hope that it was not too windy to fly. A nice breakfast by the pool, followed by a short morning walk the other way (right) from the hotel to the edge of Nazca where we could see the plateau and hills down each side road, and then we waited for our guide in the lobby by the gift shop.
Nazca Town was founded by the Spanish in 1591 close to the indigenous settlement of Nanasca.
Another English person (Michael) was there and we struck up talking- it turned out he was doing a very similar route through Peru to us! When the guide collected us she said it looked perfect for the flight and we drove out of Nazca towards the Maria Reichle airport. We were talking about weather and our guide said it had only rained in Nazca twice in her lifetime, which we found amazing. At the airport we got out and went into the waiting section, a low- tech building. We’d paid Nazca Air already, so our guide checked us in. Then they got all our details (again) and insisted on weighing us. Steve & M had to buy an empty seat between them as they were over the weight allowed per seat (100 kilos). I was well under! Then I had to go and pay the airport tax at the kiosk. Then we had to wait (and wait) until we were called for our flight. We looked around and wandered outside but not very interesting. Luckily we didn’t take too long (40 mins) but I’ve heard tales of hours. We were called to go through the security to the small secondary waiting area. Finally we were allowed onto the concrete for our plane- a 7-seater single engine Cessna. Now, this next part is very flattering to me- we were loaded weight order from larger (Steve) to least (me). I was right at the back in the “childs” seat, which was a 1-in-a-row so I had a window both sides. GREAT. Take off- GREAT.
They told us to put on headphones so we could hear the pilot who explained he would bank both ways (left, then right) so please to not try to move over to each window as everyone would see everything and the plane would remain stable). What followed was an AMAZING experience as we flew away from the thin strip of green (Nazca town) and over the Pampas de Jumana where we saw these brilliant designs. The plane did bank quite a lot but it doesn’t bother me (although the couple in front nearly used their bag and Steve felt mildly queasy). Highlights for me (in order) were The Whale and Ribs, The Astronaut, The Llama and Dog, Monkey, Spider, Condor, Runway, Hands and Tree of Life) but we saw plenty of others too.
whale-and-ribs-nazca-lines_48879626396_o.jpg whale and ribs
astronaut-nazca-lines_48879112498_o.jpg astronaut
dog-nazca-lines_48879598426_o.jpg dog
2c15efb0-7903-11eb-b475-d762e85b9b40.png monkey
2c110db0-7903-11eb-92ba-019ef53729ba.png spider
condor-nazca-lines_48879577461_o.jpg condor
hands-and-tree-nazca-lines_48879562471_o.jpg 48879563516_f03691a2df_o.jpg hands/tree of life
1. whale (eastern) drawn over big rectangle with flower
2. triangle (over a small 3-pointed hill)
3. 2km long trapezoids(other side of triangle hill)
4. astronaut (unique as on hill not in desert)
5. monkey (5 fingers 1 hand, 4 on other)
6. dog
7. llama
8. hummingbird
9. vulture/pelican and flower
10. condor
11. spider (close to hummingbird and condor)
12. runway
13. spiral and iguana
14. flamingo/ alcatraz (300m long with long beak)
15. parrot (230m long)
16. geometric designs
17. over highway
18. Hands (again 5 and 4 finger configuration)
19. Huarango tree (right next to hands)
20. lizard (right next to tree but cut in half by road- faint)
21. straight lines
hummingbird-nazca-lines_48879782807_o.jpg hummingbird
pelican-nazca-lines_48879047748_o.jpg pelican
nos 1,4, 5, 6, 8
geoglyphs-nazca-lines_48879838842_o.jpg geoglyphs
condor-nazca-lines_48879574521_o.jpg 48879577461_2af0fcc6fd_o.jpg condor
nos 9, 10, 11, 13, 15
flamingo-nazca-lines_48879112388_o.jpg flamingo
hands-nazca-lines_48879029353_o.jpg hands
crosshatch-nazca-lines_48879596081_o.jpg crosshatched lines
lizard-nazca-lines_48879035488_o.jpg lizard
scissors-nazca-lines_48879038998_o.jpg scissors
nos 14, 18 & 19, 20, Scissors
The plane went over the Pan-American Highway, town of Palpa, hills and it was over far too soon IMO and we touched down and disembarked. Then we had to wait around because some German couple we were taking got lost.

A note on the Nazca Lines
What? The lines are a World Heritage site (1994) and are found on the high, dry plateau of Pampas de Jumana between Nazca and Palpa towns. The shapes are very varied, from simple lines, spirals and geometric shapes to fauna (mainly trees and flowers) to zoomorphic designs (mainly animals). The largest figure is over 270 metres long. The images were made using simple tools (post holes have been found) to plan the design, then a shallow trench (10-15 cms) would be dug exposing the light coloured layer below the red iron-oxide upper layer. The pale lower layer is made of lime, which over time has hardened with the morning mist into a cement, preventing erosion. The Nazca desert is the driest on earth and has not seen rain for aeons. Add to this the total lack of wind and it is clear why the figures have survived. They were first re-discovered in 1927 by a hiking Peruvian archaeologist Xesspa.
Why? There is no clear reason for drawing the lines, so people have come up with their own interpretations. IMO they have a religious or symbolic significance. The geometric designs may be related to water rituals, the animals and plants maybe to fertility? Their size and visibility from the mountains suggest they may have been made to please or worship the gods (mountains as or symbolic of gods is a common theme in Andean cultures- certainly water would come from the mountains and water is a high commodity in arid Peru). Reiche (the archaeologist most associated with the lines) suggested an astronomical significance, lines pointing to places celestial bodies rose.
flower--spiral-nazca-lines_48879037403_o.jpg flowers and spiral
Who? The Nazca Culture (400-650AD) is not well known, but seems to have strong links to the Paracas culture slightly north.
We drove back to the hotel and as we had a long coach trip ahead of some 400km we thought a good lunch was essential. We sat by the pool and told the waiter how much time we had and let him make suggestions. He made an excellent choice for us as we had lomo saltado (tenderloin stir fried with chilli and chips) & causa (avocado, potato and egg). Whilst Steve had a pud (picarones- pumpkin fritters, which I didn’t fancy) I went to the gift shop (which I did fancy) and bought a silver Nazca Spider earring set and a Nazca Hummingbird picture in Nazca sand.
Then the taxi took us to Nazca coach station (no waiting room here, you board the bus directly) to get on our luxury coach (again food, drink, internet provided) to go to Arequipa. Now I was slightly apprehensive of this trip and both of us had been in two minds whether to fly to Arequipa, but I’m so glad we took the coach because the scenery was amazing. We went straight across the Pampas on the Pan- American Highway and down towards the Pacific coast. This is so unlike anything in our part of the world- the sand and road just go straight to the sea where the coast is so long and straight that the rollers just keep coming in long unbroken lines. We spotted the odd factory (of what?) in the sand dunes but absolutely nothing else (too dry and arid for people I suspect) until we got quite a long way down Peru. Then we started to see where thin rivers from the Andes to our left came to the sea. Everywhere a river/ stream came was a thin band of green and around each of these houses and people in small, long and thin, villages down to the shore. Each one had a small fishing fleet, by now moored as it was becoming dusk.
mushroom-nazca-lines_48879777402_o.jpg mushroom
As it turned from afternoon to early evening our road, which had been mainly level with the sea, headed sharply upwards and the road sat vertiginously high above the sea with little to nothing between us and the Pacific below. Then, as the sun set gloriously over the Pacific, we turned inland into the Andean foothills, many a gorgeous red colour. Night fell as we headed inland and finally to Arequipa where we arrived very late. Our guide had forgotten us and we had to catch a taxi and it turned out our travel company had booked the wrong hotel (!) – actually we’d paid for a 3* and they’d booked a 5* but we didn’t have to pay extra, so I guess it was OK (but less character). Anyhow it was too late to fuss, so we headed to bed (after leaving a message to say there was no guide and please to sort things out).

Posted by PetersF 12:59 Archived in Peru Tagged desert flight lines archaeology nazca Comments (0)

Peru : Sacred Valley

Chinchero, Pisaq, Ollantaytambo

Sunday 26th August – the Sacred Valley

A not-too-early get up and we were met at our hotel door by the coach driver to walk to the next street. We left the reception with the instruction that we expected to be moved to a proper room (as paid for) that very day, and set off. The coach drove up past Sacsayhuaman again where a chap got on board to sell us a book or postcards or DVD or CD of the area (guess he was covering all his bets!). They were not too pricey and he demoed the DVD and it looked good, so we bought one. Then we travelled on up the hills from Cusco, stopping first at the village of Chinchero (3,762m) which had an outdoor market (where Steve bought a leather wallet with a coca-leaves motif), some llamas wandering and just about every European flag you could think of flying. The nice thing about Chinchero is that it is a typical small-medium size Andean village with typical views over the Sacred Valley (Cordillera Vilcabamba). It is on the plains of Anta with the snowy peak of Salkantay dominating the skyline west. There is a story that it’s the birthplace of the rainbow, but I could not find anything else about this, though no doubt it would be a colourful tale! Certainly the village was a more important Inca town- a massive Inca stone wall with 10 trapezoid niches is in the main plaza and Inca terraces (still in use) are clearly visible. The plaza also contained a 17th century colonial church (probably built over an Inca building), which we did not go in, although the decorations were said to be nice. The building has been attributed to Inca Tupac Yupanqui. We didn’t stop for long, before carrying on over the hills. The guide for the day was a self-educated person who had recently discovered he was more Quechan (and less mesitzo) than he had previously known. He had an interesting life, teaching himself Spanish (not his first language) and putting himself through college later than most (which is why he was deeply committed to helping Andean farm children get an education). He was planning to save up to become a teacher and set up schools in remote areas for non-Spanish speaking children.
Inca Religion
Like many religions, the Inca divided the universe into three realms:-
• Hanan Pacha (celestial realm or heaven)- often represented by a condor
• Cay Pacha (earth)- usually represented by a jaguar
• Uku Pacha (underworld/ inner world)- represented by a serpent
Deities could occupy any of these realms, or move between them, depending on the deity and their strength / position.
Their main god was Viracocha (left, also called Wiracocha, Kon-Tiki Viracocha Pachayachachic). He is their creator god, setting the universe into motion. Sometimes he was just “The First”. As he created the universe he does not occupy any realm, but sits beyond or outside it all. He is the father of Inti (Sun God), Mama Quilla (a mixture of fertility and moon goddess) and Pachamama (nature goddess). Like many Inca stories he is linked to lake Titicaca with a story that he caused a great flood, saving on Manco Capac and Mama Oclla on an island in the lake’s centre. Viracocha is sometimes linked to a wife, Mama Cocha (Sea Mother) who controls the waters- I suspect this was a later addition down to conquest of the Pacific coast (where an ocean god/dess would be of obvious importance given the aridity of the land).
Below Viracocha is Inti, the Sun God and the most important to the Inca. Their Temples to the Sun were always the grandest and their festivals, particularly the Inti Raymi, venerated him especially. The Inti Raymi mid summer festival (or Hitching the Sun) was the highlight of the year, with the Intihuatana (or Hitching Post) the centre of any Inca settlement. The Inca year, likewise, started with the Capac Raymi in
mid winter. Inti was married to his sister, Mama Quilla, and the Moon Temples are generally second only to the Sun temples. The Sapa Inca saw themselves as directly descended from Inti through his son Manco Capa and daughter Mama Oclla (brother-sister/ husband-wife). Looking after the inner world was Pachamama, an earth/nature Goddess who is found in ALL Andean religions. Supporting her were Mama Zara (grains) and various Inca ancestors or heroes. She was sometimes given Pachamac as a husband.
As the Inca had a large pantheon they had, like the Romans before them, no problem incorporating any conquered people’s (ayllus) deities (see entry on Pachacamac). For instance Pachamama, previously a top level goddess, was placed below Mama Quilla. Other more important deities include Apu (God of Mountains), Apocatequil and Catequil (Gods of thunder and lightning), Llapa (God of Weather), Kon (God of wind and rain), Kanopa (fertility), Supay (God of Death), Copacati (Goddess of lake Titicaca and later all lakes), Chasca Coyllur (nature goddess), Pariacaca (an odd God of water who was born a falcon, became human, then raised to a god). Human sacrifice was certainly known, as evidenced by the frozen mummies we saw in Arequipa. In general it appears that sacrificial victims went willingly, suggesting it was seen as an honour.
In addition to the straightforward pantheon, there were also huacas. These were sacred sites, often natural wonders, such as mountains, rivers, volcanoes, or important sites such as battlefields or past Inca Imperial palaces (which were sealed on his death), or even important pieces of pottery. These sites were imbued with god-like spirits (though chained to the spot) and people would give offerings at them, often coca leaves. Indeed, we saw
quite a few instances of this at Inca sites we visited (Racqi, Machu Picchu) or even at beautiful spots (Mirador de los Volcanos), so the ancient customs are still very much alive. The tradition of adding a stone to a pile relates to this (apacheta). In exchange for the offering you could ask for a favour, or advice.

We dropped down to the modern town/village of Pisac, over the bridge across the river, then snaking up the other hillside to the entrance to Pisac Archaeological Site. As with yesterday we had a Boleto Turistico (Tourist ticket), which gave entrance to all the Inca sites in the valley (170km). We had to get off, walk through the entrance hut, get back on the bus! Then we drove half a mile more to park just outside the Inca site. At first we listened to a guide as we walked up/ across the site until his explanations became so preposterous (“those holes in the hillside are filled with Inca ghosts”) that we set off to explore by ourselves (otherwise we’d never have got to see the intihuatana or anything really).
The ruins of Pisac are at the top of a ridge/ hill overlooking a valley. They are clearly in four distinct groups- the urban area including baths (Qantus Raccay), a military area (Q’alla Q’asa), a cemetery (T’antana Marka) and the terraces. Our first view was across to Pisaqa (from which the name), which is an urban (elite) area of 30 houses on a semi-circular ledge just below the rest of the site. They are accessed through a tunnel from the higher
ceremonial area. Below are all the terraces (andenes), which are supposedly in the shape of an Andean partridge wings (P’isaqa in Quecha), though we couldn’t really see it. To the right are some watch towers.

We then walked along the ridge terraces to the main site. Opposite us was the T’antana Marka or cemetery area- a vast rock wall filled with over 1000 cave/niche tombs. We were now standing in the Kinchiracay (baths) part of the Q’ntus raccay (ceremonial) area. The fountains and baths were probably used by priests and pilgrims to the Temple.

At this point we headed off to the Q’alla q’asa (often called The Citadel, though Q’alla= cut and Q’asa= pass) ourselves. The area is also known as Upper Pisac as it is the highest part. The natural spur gives it a great view of the valley below, making it easily defended. The garrison (and associated people) had houses (about 30) literally hanging off the rocks, with vertiginous steps to them. Each stone building had running water and a small garden terrace. From here we took a thin tunnel (10m) up to the ceremonial (and administrative) area. When we finally got to the top I was very keen to get to the Intihuatana (which we managed just in time). There was the expected Temple of the Sun, altar, fountains and a ceremonial platform with an intihuatana carved directly from the rock. It is probably one of the best preserved of all Inca intihuatana (certainly better than Machu Picchu) and the base suggests an orientation to the seasons. Sadly you can no longer go right in to the Temple as some silly ad agency, whilst shooting an ad, let a boom hit it and chipped a corner, thus depriving everyone else of a chance to enjoy it as it is now off-limits. The Temple walls, as normal, slope inward to protect from earthquakes. The Intihuatana is at the centre of the Temple (picture). At the Temple was an attractive (and probably religious giving its position) fountain. Above the Temple, looking down was a solid rock chair (Tianayoc) whose significance is unknown.
We then moved along the area following a sign to Snake Gate (Amaru Punku) where the stone hinges were intact. Less exciting than it sounded, actually. The site, with its military, agricultural and ceremonial areas, suggests it served a variety of functions. It’s probable that Pisac defended the southern entrance (towards the Amazon forest) of the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo the northern and Choquequirao the western.
Then we drove back down to Pisac, which has one of the largest markets in the area. The central square had a huge pisonay tree. The coach dropped us off and our guide led us through all the stalls to an open air café where we drank purple maize (Peru’s national drink, Chicha Morada) and tasted roasted guinea pig (well, I did but Steve couldn’t bring himself as he’d had a pet guinea pig molti anni fa). The food was being cooked Pachamanca (earth oven) style, typically pre-Hispanic Peruvian (basically a hole with hot rocks to create an oven). Then we had a coffee (quite a nice one) before heading into the market on a mission to get a vicuna rug (which finally we managed, haggling completed) and a bonus of earrings. Then we went back to find our guide, but he’d left the café and we spent 5 mins chasing each other round the market maze. Luckily he found us and got us back on board to head to our lunch. It took an hour or so, travelling through the beautiful Urubamba Valley to reach Urubamba town. We were there at the end of the dry season, but it still looked green and fertile in the Sacred Valley- apparently a few weeks later, as wet season started, it would be transformed. I imagine that this is the reason that the Inca (and pre-Inca) held this valley sacred in the same way that the ancient Egyptians saw the Sacred Nile- life giving in a hostile environment. The irony of the pyramid functions was not lost on me.

The Inca
Early History- the evidence we have suggests that they started as a relatively unimportant Quecha-speaking tribe in the Lake Titicaca/ Puno region (Altiplano) until the 12th century AD. Then they appear to have headed north. Early Inca style mummies are known from Wimpillay prior to their taking Cusco and the Sacred Valley area. The Urubamba River (also called Vilcanota) in Quechua is Wilcamayu, which means sacred river. It’s probably they were attracted by the greater fertility of the area compared to the altiplano from which they originated.
Manco Capa
Manco Capac (Capac means “warlord” so his name was Manco) pulled together his tribe into a city state (Kingdom, not Empire) called Quecha Qosqo (later Cusco), which he conquered from a previous group called the Killke. He ruled for some 40 years, during which time he codified Inca laws (probably abolishing most human sacrifice and banning near-relative marriage except for nobles- similar to Egyptian rules and probably for the same pure bloodline reasons). He married his sister and his son was Sinchi Roca. He died c.1230 AD. Manco is often called the first Sapa Inca (=Great Leader). Actually, Inca should really be used to describe the LEADER rather than the people who did NOT use the term for themselves.
Sinchi Roca (sometimes Cinchi)
He succeeded his father and expanded the early Inca Empire. He, too, married his sister (or half sister). He died c.1260 and was succeeded by his son.
Llorque Yupanqui
The son of Sinchi Roca, he ruled c1260-1290 AD. The name Yupanqui, interestingly, means left-handed. He too married a sister.
Mayta Capac
The son of Lloque, he ruled c1290-1320 AD. His Capac title shows he was a warrior ruler who greatly expanded the Inca Kingdom. He is recorded as marrying “Princess” Mama Yacchi, and thereby bringing the Colca valley (Collawas union of Aymara speakers) area under his control. His son succeeded him.
Capac Yupanqui
He was the last of the Hurin Dynasty, ruling c1320-1350 AD. Unusually he married an outside, Qorihillpay (a daughter of another tribal chief). When he died a short-lived rebellion/ coup d’état led to the death of his son and heir and the installation of his son, Inca Roca, by a concubine.
Inca Roca
He was the son of Capac Yupanqui by a concubine and his new dynasty was the Hanan Dynasty. He ruled c1350-80 AD.
Yahuar Huacac
He was the lazy, ineffective son of Inca Roca and ruled c1380-1410 AD
Viracocha was the son of Yahuar and ruled c1410-1438 AD (our first certain date). Viracocha had changed his name to that of a god due to a dream. He was much more effective than his father and began serious efforts to extend the kingdom into an empire (rather than raids on other tribes). His son, Pachacuti, inherited his dream.
He is often considered the most important of the Inca. He succeeded his father in 1438 AD. As Sapa Inca (Inka) Pachacuti Cusi-Yapanqui (to give him his full name- Pachacuti means “World Shaker”) expanded to control most of the Andean region, even as far as distant Lima. He did this through a mix of political alliances, threat and as a last resort, military action. Most targeted leaders would simply agree to join the empire and reap the benefits. As with European medieval kings a system of fosterage (children effectively used as hostages and also educated as the Inca would like!) was used to control the new acquisitions. He organised his new empire or Tawantinsuyu (= tawa/four + ntin/group + suyu/region) into a system of four provincial governors reporting to him. The four provinces were Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE, Amazon), Kuntisuyu (SW-Cusco-Arequipa), Qullasuyu/Collasuyu (SE, Titicaca, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina). Each province was run by a member of the imperial family. Under this were 10 district governors (the emperor’s concubine sons) covering approx 10,000 people He probably had Machu Picchu extended. Below them were Village Official (about 1000 people), then Foremen (about 100 people) and finally Official (10 peasants). Pachacuti died in 1471 AD leaving a well-organised empire.
Tupac Yapanqui
Tupac was the son of Pachacuti and he was already a seasoned warrior when he succeeded in 1471 AD. He continued the process of expansion and was succeeded by his son, Huayna in 1493 AD.
Huayna Capac
The son of Tupac, ruling 1493-1527 AD was successful in expanding into modern Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Columbia but was less successful in organising his own succession. He married his sister and his legitimate heir was Huascar. However, he favoured a concubine’s son, Atahualpa and proposed splitting the empire in two. When he died of smallpox from the newly arrived Spanish, a civil war (perhaps inevitably) broke out.
ollantaytambo_48880156898_o.jpgHead of Viracocha at Ollantaytambo
Huascar and Atahualpa
On Huayna’s death in 1527 AD the empire was split between Huascar (Cusco and the south) and Atahualpa (Quito and the north). Huascar promptly attacked Atahualpa who managed to capture and imprison Huascar. At this point Pizarro and the Spanish arrived. It is difficult to imagine a more propitious (for the Spanish) time to arrive. The empire was in disarray and Atahualpa easy pickings. Pizarro attacked and defeated Atahualpa’s much reduced army at Cajamarca and captured Atahualpa. To secure his release Atahualpa promised to fill The Ransom Room with gold. He fulfilled his promise, but Pizarro executed him anyway in 1533 AD.
Tupac Huallpa
Tupac was a younger brother of Atahualpa and was made puppet emperor by Pizarro in 1533. He died of smallpox shortly after.
ollantaytambo_48880171263_o.jpgstorehouse at Ollantaytambo
Manci Inca Yupanqui (Manco II)
Manco was another brother of Atahualpa and after Tupac’s death Pizarro put him on the throne in 1534 AD. He hoped Manco would be another puppet, allowing him to continue his robbery of the empire’s riches. However, Pizarro left Cusco, leaving his younger rapacious brothers (Gonzalo, Juan, Hernando) in charge. Their mistreatment of Manco (including raping his wife) was so bad that he escaped Cusco in 1536 to start a rebellion. He recruited 200,000 warriors and besieged Cusco. Although he regained the city (killing Juan in the process) a smallpox epidemic amongst his troops forced a retreat to the mountain fortress of Ollantaytambo, which he used as a raiding base. For uncertain reasons, Manco decided a second retreat to a remote jungle fortress at Vilcabamba was wise and this became his capital. He was not finally defeated until Diego de Almagro’s soldiers assassinated him in 1544 AD. He married his sister, who was murdered by the Spanish in Cusco in 1539AD.
When Manco II retreated to Vilcabamba the Spanish crowned a younger half brother, Paullu Inca in 1539. He did not last long
Sayri Tupaq
On Manco II’s death in 1544, his son Sayri announced himself Sapa Inca. He met with the Spanish to negotiate and in 1558 agreed to leave Vilcabamba and live in Lima. He converted to Christianity and renounced the title of Sapa Inca. The Spanish gave him the title Prince of Yucay and he died mysteriously shortly after in 1560 (long suspected that the Spanish poisoned him as a possible rallying point). When he left Vilcabamba a half-brother took control.
Titu Cusi Yupanqui
The half-brother of Sayri, he took control of Vilcabamba in 1558 when Sayri left for Lima. He controlled the resistance until 1571, when he “became” a Christian but in practise he probably followed the old religion (politically expedient, then).
Topaz Amaru
The younger brother of Titu, he became Inca when Titu “converted” to Christianity. The Spanish then “intervened” on Titu’s behalf (or so they said) and Tupaq was forced to abandon Vilcabamba and flee into the jungle in 1572. This was the effective end of the Inca Empire. Spanish soldiers pursued the Inca, capturing Tupaq and his wife (she was giving birth, so they had stopped). Viceroy Toledo claimed Tupaq had killed priests (unlikely) and beheaded him. His children were banished first to Mexico (a descendant Tupac Amaru II led an unsuccessful uprising from there in 1780), then to Spain and finally to Sicily where the Amaru family live to this day.
Plaza Manyarakay at Ollantaytambo

We pulled in to our restaurant in the outskirts of Urubamba town (after dropping the cheapskates off at a cut price one) which was a lovely upmarket buffet one with lovely Cusco school paintings, a vista of manicured gardens opening to river and hills. We were really stuffed- the puds in particular were AMAZING. There was one sweet one made from the “ice-cream bean” which is a peanut family pod. Another was a cupuaçu mess (like Eton mess) with a lovely citrus-chocolate smell and a banana meets pear flavour. Apparently it is beginning to be used in body creams.
We had 40 mins before we had to leave and went to see the semi-wild parrots and macaws they kept. The waiter said they were free to fly anytime (clearly true) but that they chose to come back frequently. Urubamba is Quecha for Plain of Spiders (I do not know why) and is on the Urubamba River under Mt. Chicon. It is the largest town in the Sacred Valley.

We drove on to the Town of Ollantaytambo (our guide’s home town), an Hispanic town built on top of an Inca town. We stopped at the Plaza, looking up to the remains of the temple on the hill above. The modern(!) town was basically the Inca town (streets, walls, houses). We walked into the site through an arch and waited at the bottom, by the Water Temple. Opposite we could see the head of Wiracocha/ Viracocha, the Inca Creator God or possibly Tunupa, on Pinkuylluna Hill. There are also storehouses and a prison hanging off the hill. In Quecha pinkuylluna is a chiming musical instrument, suggesting a place where it was used.
Our guide started taking us up the terraces that led to the top talking about how Incas used to be giants. We gave up at this point (this took 20 mins of talking) and said we’d meet them later. We headed straight up to the Building of 10 niches, the Intihuatana and Temple of the Sun, and the Palace buildings behind. Above us were the pre-Inca ruins and the original Inca walls and on the opposite hill were the storehouses and watchtowers. We walked around the top to a look out post before returning back down.

The current town of Ollantaytambo (2792m) is built right on top of the Incan one and incorporates most of it. In the 15th century Inca Pachacuti decided he wanted the town (which was pre-Inca as well as Inca) for his personal estate. He razed much of the original town, rebuilding a fortress, ceremonial and town. He added terracing and irrigation around the town. We parked in the plaza (Plaza of Manyaraki), now the town centre. This part of the town, across the Patakancha river, is called ‘Araqhama. The town retains much of its Inca layout of 4 longitudinal streets criss-crossed by 7 latitudinal streets. The east side is an open area, the north are rougher, unworked stone buildings, but west and south are nicer polished stone structures with larger than normal doors. Most of these are still very obvious as you go into the town.
The south buildings (the ones we saw driving in) are blocks of 2 kancha (walled compounds)- four rooms around a central courtyard. Many are still occupied, making the town one of the oldest continuously occupied in South America. The Inca plaza is now a Plaza de Armas with a church, café and gift shop.
ollantaytambo-sacred-valley-peru_48880534422_o.jpgollantaytambo-sacred-valley-peru_48879808593_o.jpg Through the entrance arch to the hill, Cerro Bandolista (the main site) we stood at the bottom by the Templo de Agua (photo right) and Baño de la Ñusta (Bath of the Princess- picture left).
from left- path looking down on Pumtalis; Temple sector with pre-Inca walls above; Palace sector

We walked up the Cerro terraces. The Cerro Bandolista is commonly called Temple Hill or The Fortress (a misnomer less commonly used now). The site was mainly religious. To access it we had to climb a series of steep steps up the terraces. The steps led to a large platform- terrace of Pumatallis. Here the site divided into three main areas. In front of us the Middle sector contained several rectangular buildings (some two storied) and fountains.
We then turned left to the Temple sector. This area was clearly high prestige as it was built from attractive fitted red stones (rose rhyolite) rather than the greyer fieldstone of the other parts. The steps that accessed it were via a half finished gate (Manay racay) on a thin terrace with the Room or House of ten Niches. This long, 1-room building must have been ceremonial in function. Carrying on up was an open area with good views containing the Platform of the Carved Seat and two unfinished stone walls which would have been monumental had they been completed. Further up we arrived at the incomplete Temple of the Sun. The most striking thing here was the Wall of the Six Monoliths. From the blocks on site it’s clear that this temple construction was abandoned mid-point (around the civil war/ Spanish conquest period). Above the monoliths, some of which were decorated, was the intihuatana, a wall with deep niches and a building on a cliff edge (for astronomy?).
Temple of the Niches (both)
We continued up to the palace area and could see above us the pre-Inca walls and fortifications. Then we headed back to the terrace area to go right towards the funerary sector with its associated structures. It was quite a narrow path. From here we could see the sunken Callejon terraces towards the river (quite deep and presumably to protect the crops from the colder night air). At the far end of these was the Q’ellu Raqay plaza and building, which was probably Pachacuti’s residence.
When Inca Pachacuti died Ollantaytambo was administered by his family (panaqa) who used it to provide nobles lodging whilst their tenant farmers (yanaconas) farmed the terraces. After the Spanish occupation of Cusco, Sapa Manco Inca retreated to Ollantaytambo as an easily defensible town. He added fortifications, and in 1536 he defeated the Spanish at the Plain of Mascabamba nearby. However, he moved his capital to Vilcabamba in 1537 (though it did him no good in the end). The Spanish crown awarded Ollantaytambo to Hernando Pizarro in 1540, in encomienda (in theory he was given the population and was responsible for their protection and education in return for tribute of gold or labour; in practise it was basically slavery).

ollantaytambo-sacred-valley-peru_48880308641_o.jpgWall of the Monoliths

When we met up we asked what time we’d be back in Cusco as we had an anniversary dinner reservation at Chicha. He promised to get us back in time (and he did!). Some people stayed in Ollantaytambo and we dropped some others off in a rather nice looking country lodge as we returned via the Quecha village of Chinchero and Poroy in the dusk (amazing sunset views). He was as good as his word and dropped us off at Plaza Regocijo for the upmarket restaurant. We’d booked ahead and were treated really well, with a window/ balcony table on the second floor. The Plaza view over dinner was lovely, with lit up fountains and church. The waiter was lovely. He suggested a potato starter for Steve- by which I mean 6 different potato varieties (most of which aren’t even available commercially) all cooked in different ways, including 1 of a potato stuffed inside a potato! I had to try chicharron pork and it was beautifully cooked. The waiter brought us a quality Peruvian wine (Tacama Seleccion Especial. This is the oldest Southern American vineyard founded in the 1540s in Ica Province close to Nazca. It is 400m above sea level, which is an interesting note to our own wines 500m and with similar issues I’d think.

ollantaytambo-sacred-valley-peru_48880516877_o.jpgIntihuatana at Ollantaytambo
This wine is a Tannat/ Petit Verdot blend made in oak. It was crimson-purple with a woody nose, but a rich cherry taste. Brilliant- no wonder its their top wine www.tacama.com and nobody rushed us AT ALL (even though we’d heard this criticism).
Potato (Papa) was domesticated in southern Peruvian Andes at least 10,000 years ago. Along with corn and quinoa, it was a staple of the Inca empire.
We returned to the hotel via La Merced church (as we got some money out) and were handed our original room key- we simultaneously refused to accept it and said if we didn’t get the type of room we’d paid for (i.e. a double, rather than the smelly, pokey single they’d given us) we’d go to the tourist police. Amazingly (!) they suddenly had an available room (which apparently they had not had before- they must have thought we were stupid! Cue one slamming report on Tripadvisor, so silly them). Whilst they moved us we went for a walk around Plateros shopping area. We stocked up with a nail file (yes, essential) and water for Machu Picchu tomorrow. Then we got back to a proper room. La Merced Church and Convent was founded 1536, destroyed in the 1650 earthquake and rebuilt in 1675 in Baroque Renaissance style.

Posted by PetersF 16:51 Archived in Peru Tagged history peru cusco archaeology ollantaytambo inca sacred_valley pisaq Comments (0)

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