Favorite recent and insightful quote I have read recently:

Favorite quote I have recently read: "The word temple comes from the Latin templum, which signifies an extended open space that has been marked out for the observation of the sky. In what manner is such a space marked out? According to Dr. Hugh Nibley, the word templum, "designates a building specifically designed for interpreting signs in the heavens--a sort of observatory where one gets one's bearings on the universe." The root "tem-" in Greek and Latin denotes a "cutting" or intersection of two lines at right angles, the point where the "cardo" and "decumanus" cross, hence where the four regions come together." Matthew Brown - "The Gate of Heaven"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Face of an Incan Girl

With only 2 days more in Peru we are looking forward to the rest of the summer with family and friends in Utah. In some ways it has been a long twenty two months missing kids and grandkids. In other ways the weeks have gone by quickly. There are still more topics I would like to write about, updates from Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley where we were earlier this week. We have been traveling again with friends from Utah as well as making our farewells.
With Austin and Raul at Machu Picchu this week. It was another beautiful
day in one of the most beautiful places in the world. 
Last week we visited Arequipa for the first time and enjoyed several days with Brother and Sister Ramos. They too were missionaries in the Lima Temple with us. She is an outstanding cook and we enjoyed so much the wonderful flavors of Arequipa she prepared. The region is known for its excellent food in addition to the incredible scenery of a nearby (presently dormant) volcano and other mountain peaks surrounding the city.
In the cocina of the Ramos. We enjoyed rocoto rellenos, chupes de 
camerones, chicharones, pastel de papas and a few more dishes. 
El Misti towers in the background of Arequipa. We were allowed to climb
to the roof of the main cathedral and take this photo near the bell tower. El 
Misti is almost 20,000 feet in elevation. Its last eruption was in 1985
Arequipa is known as the Ciudad de Blanco or the "white city" because of the beautiful white volcanic stone so many of the buildings are constructed from. The Main Cathedral of Arequipa is constructed of this stone known as "sillar." The craftsmanship is superb and represents the best from the colonial period.
The Main Cathedral of Arequipa. Construction started 
when the city was founded in1540 and has been ongoing 
as earthquakes as recent as 2001 destroyed portions of the 
bell towers and damaged the building. 
Without a doubt the highlight of trip, in terms of Peruvian history, was visiting the Catholic University's Museum. Commonly it is known as "Juanita's Museum." It stirred my interest in high altitude archaeology. Upon downloading the discoverer Johan Reinhard's account, I had the Kindle version of his book read in a few days. He and his climbing teams have discovered, throughout the Andes, the remains of some 20 Incan sacrificial victims. Most of them were young girls, but also a few boys. For the first time intact human remains have been recovered for preservation and scientific study. None of these remains of Inca children were artificially preserved. Burial in high altitude remote frozen landscapes preserved them naturally. Several sites his team had visited saw evidence of grave robbers and even the use of dynamite to open these frozen burials to find the gold and silver statues accompanying the victims.
Known as the "Momia Juanita" to Peruvians, she was discovered on Mt.
Ampato in 1995. She was between 11 and 15 years of age when sacrificed.
Time Magazine named her as one of the ten most important scientific 
discoveries in the world.
Preliminary DNA studies most closely linked her to an indian tribe in Panama but subsequent additional data suggests she was from the Andes.
National Geographic Explorer in residence Dr. Johan 
Reinhard on the summit of Mt. Llullaillaco in the 
Argentine Andes.  From this location the very best and
most intact mummies were recovered. 
The most remarkable find of Dr. Reinhard were mummies found subsequently to the Ice Maiden Juanita, across the Chilean border in the Argentine Andes. These mummies had their internal organs intact with blood still in the heart and lungs. Skin and facial features were undamaged and for the first time we can know what an Inca girl looked like from 500 years ago. The Inca sacrificed their unblemished children to the gods of the mountains not to propitiate their anger but to enter the realm of the gods and live with them carrying messages. It was deemed to be a great honor for the victim and her family. These sacrifices, according to the Spanish chroniclers, were generally associated with specific events in the life of the Incan emperor. Human sacrifice seems to be something practiced world wide in antiquity and not limited to the Inca or their predecessors. In terms of comparison to the Maya and the Aztec the Inca were far more restrained with their human sacrifice. Llamas and alpacas being the more common sacrifice. The meat afterword consumed in the day's festivities, not unlike temple activities in ancient Israel.
The ice maiden of Argentine Andes, known as "La Doncella" appears to be
only asleep.  She is the best preserved of any mummified remains recovered
anywhere in the world. 
The bodies of two other children were found near the summit of Mt. Llullaillaco in addition to La Doncella in 1999 by Dr. Reinhard and his assistants.  Because of her elaborate clothing and headdress, not shown, she was probably an "aclla" or Sun Virgin. She was chosen, as was Juanita, as a toddler to live with other girls and women who could become royal wives, priestesses, and sacrifice victims. In order to assure compliance the sacrifice victims were drugged with fermented corn beer and coca. Juanita suffered massive blunt force trauma to the forehead. The cause of death of La Doncella remains somewhat a mystery, though results published only this week suggest she had a major pulmonary infection. Coupled with the shock or trauma associated the event and with the elevation of more than 22,000 feet it may have spelled her doom. Having been in Cusco for several days at 1l,000 feet I am uncertain how anyone navigates at twice that level. She also had several white hairs in her neatly braided hair. At her young age scientists speculate they were the result of stress in her life. Incan families willingly though gave their children to the emperor as it was esteemed to be a great honor to the family. Her DNA was so well preserved it was the equivalent of testing that of a living person. Studies confirm she was from somewhere near the Colca Canyon not far from where Juanita was found on Mt. Ampoto in Arequipa region.
The double jammed doorway leads from a very special
location in Machu Picchu, likely it was used by the Sun 
Virgins or Aclla. They would learn the skills of making
textiles, cooking, weaving clothing for the emperor, and
serving in the temples. 
Hair samples studied from La Doncella show the presence of cocaine and its heavy use among the select children of the Inca suggesting it was an important part of their rituals, certainly for those involved in human sacrifice. The levels of cocaine in her system were three times as high as any of 350 other samples taken from Andean mummies. Artificial mummification was practiced widely throughout the reign of the Inca and their predecessors. Mummies were worshiped and cared for as though they were still present and active members of the Incan society.
Dr. Reinhard and the Ice Maiden Juanita atop Mt. Ampato
The high altitude archaeological work performed by Dr. Reinhard and his associates has been invaluable and ranks, rightfully so, among the greatest discoveries of the modern era. We know what an  Incan girl looked like from 500 years ago and now a good deal more about her life and her culture. For the indigenous peoples of the Andes these discoveries are important, much more so than for a few grave robbers to cash in on the artifact market. As museums have been constructed and visitors pay to see these cultural exhibits everyone benefits. Local artisans now exhibit and sell their crafts where once they were ignored being too far from the beaten tourist trail. Cultural exhibitions including dance, fairs, and ritual ceremonies have been organized and held for promoting a rebirth of ancient Andean culture. The unique information gathered from these mummies serves to educate the world about a most remarkable ancient civilization. To summarize Dr. Reinhard, "In the imaginations of children, mummies are second only to dinosaurs and their educational potential appears to be unlimited. A mummy is a magnet and can be used as a teaching tool on many subjects, including archaeology, geography, human biology, conservation, and the environment. These are true time capsules that allow, a view into the past that cannot be be obtained by any other means."  My personal thanks to Dr. Reinhard and others like him who have worked so tirelessly to preserve the past. Through his efforts a new branch of high altitude archaeology has emerged and knowledge of the Incan past is now much better understood. Largely, his work and understanding of the role and importance of mountains and mountain deities explains the function and place of Machu Picchu to the Inca. His web site has numerous PDF's of articles he and his associates have published. I am also interested in his study and interpretation of the famous lines of Nazca. It is on the schedule of things to read, but it won't be here in Peru.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Inca Religion and Myths

Huaina Pichu shrouded in the background above Machu
Picchu. The myths of the past of Peru are equally shrouded. 
We had a recent FHE assignment here amongst the North Americans.  We meet twice a month and wanted to do something special.  RA prepared 19 varieties of native fruits that are available right now in our local grocery store.  They included mango, guanabana, pineapple, pepino melon, biscocho bananas, yakon, guava, lucuma, mamey, tuna rojo, aguaymanto, tamarindo, kaki, star fruit, chirimoya, maracuya, granadilla, and cocona, and albaricoque.  I thought a few could have benefited by the addition of a little vanilla ice cream, but I was overruled.  Since the fruit refreshments were not my portion of the evening's entertainment I could not say anymore.
Kaki fruit as they are known here and in Japan. In the US we call them
Maracuya and Granadilla.  Everyone's favorite, at least ours are the mangos.
The season is over this year and we will pass them. 
It has been fascinating to study Inca and Pre-Inca traditions and myths going back 5,000 years. Some themes are consistent with other ancient traditions from the Middle East and Asia.  Joseph Campbell would suggest the similarities in these worldwide myths would be the consequence of what Carl Jung called the "collective unconscious" mind, something on the order of Freud's "archaic remnants."  Brother Nibley would be at odds with Campbell and Freud as to the origins of the universal myths and the similarities of myth throughout all ancient civilizations.  To quote Brother Nibley, "It already appears that he ancient myths, wherever they turn up, have a tendency to fit together into the same picture, confirming and supporting each other due to the solid ground on which they stand... This leads us to conclude here is a serious historical reality behind the myths as a whole, in spite of the adjusting and romancing that sometimes effaces them beyond recognition."
Less than a thousand khipu survive today. Most are thought to have
been used for accounting as they are organized into the decimal system.
More complex khipu may contain words but that is yet to be determined. 
Sorting out the past Pre-Spanish and even Pre-Inca with respect to myths and religious traditions is difficult. It was estimated when the conquistadores arrived in the North of Peru there were approximately 700 different languages and cultures here, all under Incan rule. Three languages remain today, Aymara, Quechua and of course Spanish. The Inca like any victorious conqueror rewrote the history books and adapted the past to fit their world view and support their dynastic rule. A major problem in all of the Andean past is there was never a written language. History most likely was preserved through the telling of oral traditions. Khipu, the strange knotted cords of the Inca and earlier peoples served as nemonic helps to recall these events of the past. A team of Harvard scholars may prove otherwise. Using very large and fast computers some progress has been made in deciphering the khipu. At least one numerical address, akin to a zip code of a city or district, has been deciphered. In Central America the written languages of several groups including the Maya have been successfully translated. Unraveling the history especially the religious beliefs proves very difficult as there was no written language and both the Inca and the Spanish adjusted and changed the past to justify their rule. Particularly the Spanish were the more egregious as they committed what amounted to cultural genocide upon the indigenous peoples of the New World.
Dried potatoes or chuño. They are also called papa seca or dried potatoes.
Climate change and freeze dried potatoes, called papas secas, or chuño, according to a few scholars, explains why the Inca armies were able to sweep over and conquer the western Andean regions of South America in such a short period of time, approximately 100 years.  Potatoes are still freeze dried much in the same way they have been done for many millennia.  These freeze dried potatoes are relatively high in nutrition and have a shelf life of up to three years without further refrigeration.  Their light weight allowed them to be carried on the backs of soldiers and llamas as the armies were moving through their empire.  Climate conditions weakened the economies of coastal communities but the higher elevation of the Inca with ample rainfall and moisture gave them sufficient foodstuffs to conquer the areas suffering famine. The Inca were astute enough bargainers to offer food to any peoples who would accept their rule.  One scholar estimates that Inca had five years worth of food storage at any one time for all of the inhabitants of the empire.  Even today, many fields - estimated between 25% and 50% of those that were once used by the Inca - remain unused.
The terraces of Ollantaytambo, a royal Inca city, once grew corn and many
other crops. This site was abandoned before the conquistadores ever set foot in
Peru. Smallpox and other European diseases decimated the Inca population
ahead of them.
Wherever the Inca took control of another society the local gods and myths were recognized and maintained along with the official state Incan religion of sun worship.  To legitimize the rule of the Inca, the Sapa Inca, or head Inca, was advanced as the direct descendant of the Sun God Inti.  Viracocha was acknowledged as the creator god, though Inti would take preeminence in time.  It did get complicated with the addition of many local gods to the pantheon by the time the Inca were extending their rule.
Viracocha the chief God of a number of Pre-Inca societies.
In his right hand he caries a serpent. 
The near universal myths of creation, deluge, and the hero's journey are to be found amongst the Inca and their predecessors.  According to the various versions of Inca legends Viracocha came forth from a cave on the Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca with his two sons and began the creative process.  He breathed on large stones and turned them into giants who first populated the land.  Because they were sometimes disobedient in the days of Noah, (as the OT story goes,) he sent forth a flood and drowned them all.  He started afresh with the current race of humans and the first Incas emerged. Traveling north he created other peoples and taught them.  He wore robes, was bearded, and carried a staff.  Among the earliest cultures are representations of this god carrying a staff.  A shard of dried inscribed squash portrays the staff god, among the Norte Chico of Caral, approximately 3,000 B.C.
The stone giants at Tiawanaku. This site was one of the five most important
for the Inca even though it was created before the rise of their empire. It is 
on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. We had permission to visit it but ran
out of time. 
Serpientes, or serpents were an important symbol utilized universally among the Inca and their predecessors.  As Moses had fashioned a brass serpent to raise and allow the children of Israel to be healed, so the serpent is associated with divine events and religious practice.  I asked my good friend Cesar if the serpent had any positive meanings in Inca history and he said that it did not.  The Inca have nothing equivalent to the Caduceus of the medical establishment in our culture. The serpent represented the underworld of departed dead, though it is featured prominently as part of the decoration and representation of the various gods. Moses and Pharaoh's magicians used serpents to represent the power of their gods.
The male side of the Pachacamac Totem. The 
Spanish came to this site looking for gold and
found nothing of value to them. They toppled
the totem and set fire to his temple. 
Throughout all of the ruins we have visited in Peru the theme of duality or opposites, has been symbolized in stone or carving.  The creator god Pachacamac of the Lurin area, south of Lima, is both male and female. Other civilizations illustrated their gods with both female and male organs. The concept of a feminine deity is not foreign to ancient Hebrew and middle eastern cultures. Mormons early in this dispensation were taught about a mother in heaven though orthodoxy struggles with that concept. All are familiar with Eliza Snow's lines, penned in Nauvoo, and set to music.  One of the Hebrew names for god is El Shaddai, which means "breasted one." In Genesis 17:1, 28:3, and 48:3 the name El Shaddai is used in association with descriptions of God as a nourisher or supplier of good things.  Female and male representations are more common than not in the stones and carvings of ancient Peru.
RA and I at the Pachacamac site. It is mostly of stone and some adobe. The 
Inca added additional temples and structures to it. Even today travelers still
come especially in August and leave offerings such as chicha and coca leaves. 
A Swedish scholar who has studies the religious and cosmological themes of the Pre-Colombian Peru notes:  A fundamental principle in Andean cultures is that of duality.  The principle of dualism permeates the lives of indigenous Andeans; it is a world view according to which people, society, the cosmos and other aspects of life are divided into complementary parts.  the harmon of the universe depends on the controlled inter-relationship between the halves." (Professor Daniel Rosengren, University of Gothenberg, Sweden)
The image of the staff god incised on a dried squash gourd. The color of
the inset was changed to highlight his features. His right terminates in the
head of a snake. 
The Quechua words for this duality of harmony and opposites are "yanantin and masintin."  The Spanish made every effort to remove this concept from the Inca and other indigenous peoples.  Due to the religious taboo,  these words are discouraged from use even today in rural Quechua speaking Peru.
Sechin Alto Temple Complex with the two staircases and light and dark
stones at the entrance. The site dates to approximately 2000 BCE and is
near Chimbote about 200 miles north of Lima

With regard to this duality, I am reminded from the Book of Mormon of Lehi's words to his son Jacob:  "And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents. and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.  Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should at for himself.  Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was entice by the one or the other."  2 Nephi 2:15-16
The Pyramide Mayor at Caral is one of the oldest temple sites in all of the
Americas. Note the dark and lighter stones uncovered by the archaeologists
at the entrance of the second level of stairs. 
I had never before thought of this concept of the two trees of knowledge with its forbidden fruit and the tree of life being emblematic illustrating the Inca/Quechua concept of opposites and harmony.
Cancer survivor and a stroke victim both, Dr. Christensen teaches about
life's riches experiences involving opposites in his new book. We heard him 
lecture in NYC at a business conference on his business theories. 
I was interested recently reading the reviews of a Harvard business professor's new book, How Will You Measure Your Life?  His work is recognized worldwide.  The fact that he is a friend of Mitt Romney should not be held against him.  Andy Grove and Intel, because of his influence, developed the Celeron family of microprocessors. RA and I heard him lecture a few years ago in New York.  He too understands as did the ancients the nature of duality and opposites.  He said.  "In the scriptures, we are told you can't really understand happiness unless you understand sadness.  You don't know pleasure if you don't know pain.  It's part of lie.  So can you learn something from somebody who has gone from success to success to success?  I don't think so.  It has to be somebody who has failed and failed and succeeded and succeeded."  Dr. Clayton Christensen
The entrance to the Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo.
Some of the granite used on this site is porphyry and very
old being thrust up with the Andes Mountains.  
There is much more to write about other than to repeat again how much we are going to miss Peru. One practice or belief must be noted in closing.  For the Inca, babies that are born with handicaps or birth defects were treated as special messengers from the Gods. As such they were given a special and elevated status in Inca society and treated well. Other than perhaps human sacrifice, life under the Inca was probably better than most contemporary cultures and certainly better than the colonial period that would follow under the Viceroy of Peru and the King of Spain.
Where else in the world could you dine on barbecued cuy? 
I am not sure we could have gone anywhere else in the world where we could have had the experiences that we have enjoyed in thus land of 10,000 temples, huacas, or religious sites.  We have been very fortunate to have worked in the Lima Peru Temple with people we dearly love, respect and admire.  They are largely a group without great wealth by any worldy measure, but as a whole they are among the wealthiest and happiest of people.