Thursday, March 6, 2014
Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru: Ollantaytambo, on the Road t...: Getting High in Peru: Ollantaytambo, on the Road to Machu Picchu On-site Sign On-site Sign where left of center terraces ar...
Getting High in Peru: Ollantaytambo, on the Road to Machu Picchu
|On-site Sign where left of center terraces are the fore part of a llama and right of center terraces are the body of the llama.|
|Google Earth 2012 picture showing the terraces as the above shot does. To the right of the center is the village square where you can buy food, water, and tourist items.|
Now we are 55 miles NW of Cusco, since when we left Pisac, we turned left to the northwest. We are still in the Sacred Valley, and at an archaeological site where the Incas defeated the Spanish conquistadors. We arrived late in the afternoon so bad lighting for photography. Down below, we will later catch the train which will take us to Agua Caliente and Machu Picchu.
The 700 villagers below the site have shortened the name to Ollanta and say that they have lived here since the 13th century. The last part of the name “tambo” means rest, so this location is a place of rest before the final leg of the trip to Machu Picchu. Since this is the only way to Machu Picchu, traffic congestion and pollution can be especially bad in the mornings.
|We are beginning to climb the terraces to the Temple of the Sun. This is the fore part of the llama.|
|As we climb looking back to the village with the village market in the foreground.|
|A rest on the terraces as we climb up to the Temple of the Sun.|
|Continuing our climb up.|
Incan Atahualpa was the Inca king when Francisco Pizarro arrived. Atahualpa was captured and killed by Pizarro in 1533. A brother of Atahualpa, Manco Inca became the puppet king for the Spanish when he was about 19 years old. He and his family were abused by the Spanish, but one of his plans for escape did work. He was able to gather a large army and he besieged Cusco forcing the Spanish to retreat to the nearby fortress of Sachsaywaman (blogged earlier). Manco Inca retreated to Ollanta pursued by the half-brother of Pizarro, Hernando Pizarro. Manco showered the Spanish and their allies with arrows, spears, and boulders, and opened up a water channel, which bogged down the Spanish horses. Pizarro retreated but soon returned with an army 4xs the size, forcing Manco Inca to retreat further into the jungle where the Incas were able to hold off the Spanish until 1572 when the Incas became no more of a threat to the Spanish.
Ollanta served as a fortress, an administrative center, and a ceremonial center, which included astronomical observations. It had been decorated with silver and gold, which the Spanish soon stripped off. According to some Inca scholars, Inca priests formulated a mythology incorporating astronomy creating a rhythm for life here where they believed the Inca first emerged from the earth.
|At the entrance to the Temple of the Sun where Jesus is explaining what we are seeing|
|Typical Inca construction where the blocks are cut and dragged from the quarry 6 Km away. The story is that the river was temporarily diverted to get the block across the riverbed to the site.|
|The entrance to the Temple of the Sun looking up at the summit with its Holy of Holy center.|
|Note the irregular-cut blocks and a tight fit|
The pre-Inca and Inca creator god of the universe, sun, moon, and stars is Wiracocha. A representation of him, with his craggy features, is on display on the cliff face opposite the site. He is called Wiracochan (messenger of Wiracocha) or Tunupa (canopy of the tree). We looked at him for some time while our guide explained the story. Wiracochan’s craggy features are 465-feet high, and he has a crown with four pointed corners and is carrying a large bag or bundle, and there are storage rooms in the cliff that are part of the bundle.
Where we sat to observe Wiracochan is actually part of a temple representing a llama and her baby. Llamas, a beast of burden, were very important to the pre-Inca and Inca cultures. We sat on the back of the llama with the terraces, the sides of the llama below. Our guide, Jesus, was explaining the temple, the Temple of the Sun, and the craggy feature of Wiracochan. At the location where the llama’s reproductive organs would be were Inca storehouses for seed with water channels (urinary) below them. On the winter solstice, June 21, the sun shines on a point in the Temple of the Sun where the llama’s head and eye would be. The llama then wakes up, realizes how dry it is, and moves downhill to drink water and to begin the yearly cycle once again. As we climbed up the terraces to the Temple of the Sun, we were climbing up the front part of the llama to its head.
|Wiracochan or Tunupa: Center is the head/face and the right of center are the storerooms which are part of the bundle he is carrying. Left of center are more storerooms.|
|Heading for the spine of the llama|
The pre-Inca and Incans, at least the priests, came to realize that climate can change and this region also endured seismic activity. Accepting this, the residents of Ollante constructed storage rooms in the “bundle” to preserve food for possible perilous times. This foresight helped seal Inca power over the region. The priests also studied the stars, the Pleiades, for example. They built observatories at different locations to study their movement, and the Pleiades return to their purview at harvest (storage) time. From the temple of the Sun here at Ollante, the Pleiades appear at dawn during the winter solstice (June 21) in front of Wiracochan. At the summer solstice (December 22) the sun shines on the craggy face of the creator god and his bundle.
As an Ancient Middle East archaeologist, I am intrigued that the pre-Inca and Inca, the ancient Hebrews, Canaanites, Greeks, Egyptians, and so many other civilizations in the Old or New World found and recognized the Pleiades*. We all have similar needs and come up with similar answers.
We spent some time at the main entrance to the Temple of the Sun and up higher by the huge pink granite blocks forming the front piece of the ceremonial platform within the temple. The entrance blocks had strange protuberances on them, which get highlighted on the spring equinox (September 23), helping to fix the date.
|The camera is recording the view of Wiracochan from the Temple of the Sun.|
A couple of photos show several students sticking their heads into niches. According to the story which the guide told, the niches functioned as megaphones to lead the people in religious ceremonies. We determined that this no longer worked well since the surrounding structures were no longer complete.
*You can find reference to the Pleiades in Job 9:9, 38:31 and Amos 5:8. In the north hemisphere, the Pleiades rise near dawn signaling the opening of seafaring and farming and its dawn autumnal setting marks the end. Hesiod and Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey note the Pleiades. In Revelation 1:16 the Son of Man, the Messiah holds the 7 stars (the Pleiades) in his right hand.
For the Inca, the Pleiades represent time to scatter the seed, and the Pleiades return at harvest (storage) time.
Paz y Shalom. Neal Bierling
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru: Pisac, on the Road to Machu ...: Getting High in Peru: Pisac, on the Road to Machu Picchu This is a Google Earth picture of the site with terracing I'm ...
Getting High in Peru: Pisac, on the Road to Machu Picchu
|This is a Google Earth picture of the site with terracing|
Above, the roads to the site are to the right of the terraces.
Below, just north of the center is where we gather to climb up to the ruins
|The students will be climbing all over the top of the site.|
|Approaching the parking area but you can see the terracing as on the Google maps.|
|Access path to the terraces and the site.|
Pisac is approximately 20 miles (32K) NE of Cusco where the Sacred Valley begins and is worth a visit. I’m not just referring to the current village with its market (Mercado), which has taken over the Plaza de Armas, but before you arrive in the village, you see spectacular agricultural terraces with channels to carry water and you see countless steps cut from mountain’s rock used to ascend and descend the terraces. Pisac is a pre-Inca site. The construction of some of the walls gives this away, but when the Incas took over, they did not destroy, but instead maintained and expanded Pisac. The Incas did develop a unique style of building walls, and they did improve on terrace building creating a micro-climate improving agricultural harvest. The rape and destruction of the various sites in Peru happened when the Spanish arrived.
|Note the surrounding white capped mountains|
|The snowy mountains and village below|
|This access path is clearly visible on Google maps|
As you look at the mountains surrounding Pisac, you will see snowy peaks that were important for the ancient peoples including the Inca. To raise crops in these higher elevations, you had to consider room to plant crops, the amount of water and sun light needed. Evidently, the ancient peoples considered the possibility of excessive wind and hail in constructing the terraces and also considered the amount of sun the terraces would receive. In addition, the Inca developed a variety of crops that grew well at different elevations. Long before today’s Monsanto, the Incas developed genetics for crops and in this valley had 17 varieties of corn for the various elevations and amounts of sun light.
One of these surrounding terraced mountains was given the name “Condor Mountain” since terraces cut from the mountain side form the shape of a condor. An adult condor can have a wingspread of ten feet and is a scavenger. It is God’s cleanup bird and the pre-Inca and the Inca associated the condor as the guardian spirit of the dead which would carry you on its wings to the world beyond this one. Watching them soar through the Andean air is a treat and it is easy to picture myself (or wishing) to be able to soar on the wings of a condor and not grow weary (Isaiah 40: 31)*. I could not see the condor on the mountainside but hope to look again next time. Once we arrived at the archaeological site though, we were at the wrong angle to see the “condor.” The terracing is very impressive with its graceful curves. One of the pictures shows blue tarps locating where conservation is happening. The terraces had to be maintained in the past and now in the present.
|The students will be climbing to the peak.|
Pisac with its citadel guarded the Urubamba Valley, and an Inca road once snaked its way into this valley. Some pictures show the students climbing to still higher heights and enjoying it. As you climb up to the citadel, you should note the hundreds or thousands of holes in the cliff wall on the opposite side. The condor was the guardian of the dead bearing your soul into the afterlife; therefore, the dead were buried in cliffs accessible to the condor. Alas, speaking as an archaeologist, the tombs have been plundered of their grave goods and are now off limits to tourists as they should be.
|Holes indicate tombs that have been broken into.|
|Close up of a tomb|
|A local girl is braiding the hair of one of the students.|
|Guinea pig and potatoes--yum!|
|Don't forget to shop in the mercado/market|
*Isaiah 40:31 is well-known to many readers of the Bible, and sometimes I see the verse on the back of a runner’s tee shirt. “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” The Hebrew word translated as “eagle” is nesher, and it can mean any large bird of prey, such as the vulture and condor. Vultures are numerous in the Middle East; it was guardian over the pharaohs, which is why Pharaoh Tut had one on his royal crown. Here in Peru, Isaiah 40: 31 could then read “They will soar on the wings like condors ….”
Paz y Shalom. Neal Bierling