|Stonework of the Coricancha, the principal temple of the Inca in Cusco.|
Little remains of this once most magnificent Temple of the Sun in Cusco,
now the foundation for a monastery.
The 5,000 year old Piramide Mayor or the Great Pyramid of Caral. Caral is
contemporary with the rise of cities in Sumer and Egypt.
The Cathedral of San Clemente in Pisco following the 2007 Earthquake.
Only the dome remained standing.
|Note the cornerstones and lintel surviving almost 600 years.|
|The lintel and doorway of the Incan Imperial Period|
The Spanish marveled at the beauty of Incan cities and noted their earthquake resistance. In a seismic event they watched the stones move or dance. In Spanish it is called "el baile de las piedras," the dance of the stones. At the end of the quaking the stones would return to their set position without damage to the structure.
What earthquake or conquering conquistador has not destroyed, government and private greed remains a significant threat to Peru's archaeological sites, especially Machu Picchu. Repeatedly, plans are pushed by developers to build heliports, cable car lifts, luxury hotels complete with boutiques and restaurants at Machu Picchu to exploit the majesty and beauty of Peru's most visited tourist site. UNESCO is considering adding it to the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. We will visit it one more time in February with family coming. Peru has one other site already listed, the Chimor city of Chan Chan, near Trujillo. It was the largest of any city in the Americas prior to the coming of the Europeans. Estimates range from thirty to sixty thousand inhabitants at its peak. Changing weather patterns bringing rain, in addition to the huaceros or looters, and Peru's earthquakes continue to put it at risk.
|Adobe mud walls are being washed away at Chan Chan.|
A few areas have been rebuilt by archaeologists and under tents to prevent
I have collected and purchased a few rocks and specimens as we have traveled. RA wonders how we will get them home. Among them of special interest to me and maybe a grandson or two at some point are stromatolites, porphyry granite, hematite, and fool's gold. A rendering of the principal deity of the Mochica culture Aiapaec carved from porphyry granite is part of the collection. This distinctive red granite is rich in copper and molybdenum. It is found from the seacoasts of Peru to the height of the Andes. It polishes very nicely and was prized in other parts of world including ancient Egypt. Napoleon sent an unsuccessful expedition searching for an Egyptian outcropping of porphyry granite. It is also found in the Hagia Sofia of Istanbul being fashioned by the Byzantine Greeks a thousand years before Napolean.
Monoliths from the unfinished Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo. These
and other stones were carved from porphyry granite.
Entrance way to the Temple of the Sun. The stone work is
The Inca carved this very hard stone and had begun construction with it for this temple. The quarry was some distance from their final resting place. Scholars are unsure why the temple was abandoned. Maybe it was due to the arrival of the conquistadores, the civil war between Huascar and his brother Atahualpa, or the diseases which preceded the physical arrival of the Spanish in the Andes.
Not exactly a transit but my compass reads 58° NE, pointing toward the
solstice sunrise. It rests upon porphyry granite.
The Inca carved a face of their emperor circled in this image to which my
digital compass in pointed.
The Inca face carved into the cliff wall. Archaeoastronomy, solar or
celestial alignments are prevalent in every site we have visited in Peru.
|Josh and Mary enjoying the view from the Temple of the Sun|
Porphyry granite dates to the proterozoic age of nearly two and a half billion years ago. Maybe this was during the third day of creation as the waters separated from the dry land. Also on the third day were the grasses, the herb yielding seed and tree bearing fruit. On the fourth day, in order to give rise to the creatures of the sea and subsequent mammals, small multi cell cyanobacteria or blue green algae had to do the heavy lifting of converting the earth's carbon dioxide rich atmosphere into breathable oxygen. These fossilized remains known as stromatolites are perhaps the earliest of all living things. They date to this same proterozoic era beginning about 2.5 billion years ago. These fossils are found on the Chilean border in the district of Tacna, not far from the world famous Nazca Lines. I found mine at a rock shop in downtown Lima on a previous trip with our friend Cesar.
More porphyry and basalt on the Islas Ballestas near Paracas. These islands are
known as Peru's equivalent of the Galapagos Islands. We did not see any iguanas
however, just thousands of birds, sea lions, and a few warm water penguins.
|Red granite sands at a beach in Paracas|
|The stones of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco.|
The Intihuatana Stone, the most famous in all of Peru. It will cast no shadow
next week on on November 11 when the sun is at mid day.
With the Spanish conquest of Peru the stone work of the Inca ceased and in many cases the temples, buildings and shrines were torn down and or destroyed as they impeded religious conversion and change. The stones in these most beautiful in all of the world buildings, those that were not too large, were carried off by the Europeans to construct their New Spain. Sacsayhuaman, the magnificent fortress and religious site of the Inca above Cusco, is only a shadow of what is once was. The stones still in place are those simply too large and beyond the capacity of the colonists to haul away. Fortunately, as all can attest who have seen it, the world is grateful Machu Picchu was mostly left to the embrace of encroaching vegetation and overgrowth for 500 years. Had it been found it too certainly would have been destroyed.
No mortar was ever used in these stone structures and personal inspection confirms not a knife blade or even a piece of paper can be inserted between the stones. All the more impressive since the largest stones at Sacsayhuaman weigh upwards of 200 tons.
|Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu reminiscent of Coricancha in Cusco|
|Grandson Josh at Sacsayhuaman in August of this year.|
The young Prince Siddartha might well have made his observation about the Noble Truth of Suffering had he had visited Peru. The noble truth of suffering as I understand is: "Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair..."
We continue to admire the people we have met here, their past, the beauty of their country and this privilege of working amongst them. They have endured and accomplished so much. We look forward to February when additional family will visit.
|Another example of the magnificent stone work at Machu Picchu|
|Mary at the Sungate along the Inca Trail. Machu Picchu in the distance.|
This post is for you Mary. We are happy we could share it and Peru with you.
With much love!
With much love!