Sunday, April 6, 2014

Getting High in Peru, Archaeological Adventures, Volume 1 and 2 by Neal Bierling has published two books of Peru on April 3, 2014. Go to their site to books to my name (Neal Bierling) and you will find them. They are meant to be guides to the archaeology of Peru and related treks. Paz. Neal Bierling

Monday, March 10, 2014

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu (Old Bird), the...

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu (Old Bird), the...: Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu (Old Bird), the City of Ultimate Hope, Part 2 and Final Blog about our Archaeological Adventures in Peru...

Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu (Old Bird), the City of Ultimate Hope, Part 2

Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu (Old Bird), the City of Ultimate Hope, Part 2 and Final Blog about our Archaeological Adventures in Peru in 2013.
Hotel Painting explained below
Google Earth Picture showing Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu
Above and below is our rest stop after descending Wayna Picchu

We rested after the descent from Wayna Picchu before we finally began our tour of the site. Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca citadel that stayed hidden from the Spanish conquistadors. This site is not mentioned in any chronicle written by the Spanish. The Quechua people knew it was there, and it was not until 1911 that the North American Hiram Bingham was taken to the site.  Compared to archaeology in the Middle East, excavation of the Inca or pre-Inca sites are in its nascent state. Not enough excavation has happened yet in the region for the Inca scholars to formulate complete typologies of artifacts. 
 Student Pictures below of Machu Picchu
Anna's shot with Wayna Picchu in back
Carmen B.'s shot
Carmen B.'s shot
Carmen B.'s shot
One of the first stopping points where Guide Jesus explains the site
The students are attentive
We are in the Residential Sector
Note the extensive terracing. We are heading for the temples
Fountains continue to flow above and the two below

Machu Picchu is an awe-inspiring site that displays the superb construction technique of the Inca unmatched today, an engineering marvel. It was a city, a citadel and temple complex, which included an observatory, that may have housed only 500 Inca, but it may have taken 1000s of Inca to construct this marvel over a period of decades? The guide books recommend a visit of three hours, but this was not nearly enough time for me. But I was tired from the morning climb and knew that I was planning to return in 2014 and perhaps again in 2015 (Ojala). So, with the climb up Wayna Picchu and the tour of the ruins, we were here more than 6 hours, but this not enough onsite time. Perhaps my feeling are due to the fact that I am an archaeologist and this site, like Petra, Jordan where I have spent a lot of time, is a marvelous site.    

Note the huge block construction
Temple of the Sun above and below

Temple of the Sun with its fine stonework, altar, and trapezoidal windows
Now we are near the Temple of the Three Windows
Temple of the Three Windows with huge trapezoidal windows and 3-ton lintel stones. The temple was roofed with huge stones going from where the students are sitting to the pillar on the left side.
View of the center of the temple
The other side of the temple which again shows that it had been roofed.
A worker is using a trowel to scrape off growth. Note how the stonework and hols the two side walls lean in to aid in placing a roof
Now we are below the Temple of the Three Windows. Note the stonework and the people for perspective.
One of Machu Picchu’s recent directors believes that they have located eight access points leading to and from this site, which led him to conclude that Machu Picchu was part of a trade nexus linking the Andes to the Amazon basin.    
The Spirit Guardians of Machu Picchu

            In reference to the painting of Machu Picchu with the puma (earth), the condor (sky), and the snake (underworld), the Inca needed to live in harmony with nature and needed to appease the spirit guardians periodically with offerings. The spirits would reciprocate. 
            Waynapicchu represented a puma that was crouched to attack with its hackles up. The terraces near the peak shown in the previous post represented its raised hackles. To the left of Waynapicchu is another peak with three prominences (pic below). This one represents the condor, its head in the middle and on either side are its half-opened wings. 
Left of Wayna Picchu is the condor
Left of Wayna Picchu is the Condor and the residential sector is part of the lizard mentioned below.
Google Earth showing the "lizard" to the right of the green area.
Google Earth highlighting the "lizard"

              The residential and industrial sectors to the right and the entire length of the plateau leading to Wayna Picchu is said to resemble a giant lizard that emerged from the river below to this location. Other symbolism is mentioned but I do not see it in my pictures. There were too many tourists while we were there that afternoon to appreciate its possible magical atmosphere and we were not there long enough for solitary reverie. 

            Machu Picchu (Old Bird) fortunately missed the destructive efforts of the Spanish conquistadors. It’s too bad that the Old Bird, the guardian spirit of peace could not return to help revive the spirit of paz/shalom/salaam in us. With the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, there was no “paz” in this region in the 16th century, and there are too many places in the world today where there is a lack of shalom/salaam and instead in too many places there is insecurity. Maranatha.     

A major source I used for the blogs on the Sacred Valley is entitled Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas by Fernando E Elorrieta Salazar and Edgar Elorrieta Salazar. I bought the 2013 edition. I had noticed that many of the guides, including Jesus, were carrying this book, so I asked him where I could purchase it. I used some smaller guide books, and we always carry and use the Lonely Planet. Two older sources were Time-Life’s 1992 book entitled Incas: Lords of Gold and Glory, and another 1992 book entitled The Incas and Their Ancestry by Michael E. Moseley, a Thames and Hudson book. 
 This is my final blog on Peru about my 4-month visit to Peru in 2013. My focus was on its archaeology, and I plan (Ojala) to return to this theme I my planned return in July 2014. 

Paz, Neal Bierling

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu Arrival and Cli...

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu Arrival and Cli...: Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu and the Climb to Wayna Picchu. You need a separate ticket to climb this peak   Googl...

Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu Arrival and Climb to Wayna Picchu, Part One.

Getting High in Peru: Machu Picchu and the Climb to Wayna Picchu.

You need a separate ticket to climb this peak

Google Earth picture of Aqua Caliente and the switchbacks up to Machu Picchu
Hotel painting of Machu Picchu dominated by Wayna Picchu in back

After Ollantaytambo (previous post), we took the short bus ride to the train station to catch a ride to Agua Caliente arriving there after dark. I remember hearing water fall around me, but since it was dark, I could not see anything but cliffs surrounding me. The following morning I went to breakfast early, which was on the top floor of our hotel. There I could see that Agua Caliente was in a canyon with a river flowing through it. The canyon walls were dripping water and were enveloped with clouds releasing rain. So, we wore ponchos to the bus stop for the ride to Machu Picchu.

It was my first time here, and the bus took switchback after switchback (visible on Google Earth) up to the site. Now here, we were hurried on a trail to an unknown destination, at least for me—Profe Bierling knew since she set this up. A bit later she mentioned that we were going to climb Wayna Picchu (“Young Peak” where “Peak” actually refers to the protrusion that your cheek has with a wad of coca leaf in it). This is a mountain peak from which we could look down on Machu Picchu. We had the coveted pass for the climb limited to 200 climbers, and we needed to get to the gate at a particular time. Okay, I thought, but we can’t see anything since the peak was enveloped in clouds. Up we climbed (beginning at 8067 feet ascending to 9030 feet) for at least 90 minutes after which we reached the summit. 
On site at Michu Picchu but hurrying to the gate to climb Wayna Picchu
Gate and entrance to climb Wayna Picchu
Sign at entrance
I shot this after we returned to Micchu Picchu from the climb

It was not an easy climb. First, we had to go downhill below 8000 feet to get to the base of the peak where the steep ascent began, but when we finally reached the peak, the clouds began to break up and we were able to see what we had climbed. The Rio Urubamba was more than a thousand feet directly below and nothing but air between. I began to stress seeing what we had climbed and what we needed to do to descend. I was pleased that I did not see this on the ascent. The pictures will show how narrow the steps were (and no guard rails) and they were still wet. One slip, one loose step or stone in many places meant that it would be over for the person falling. 
On the climb
The trail is in center and the next shots I'll zoom in
Several students are ahead of me
See the students? Look for the colors
Strenuous but not the most challenging part yet. The lower 2 students spot me and take a pic.
On the climb we hear and spot the train below
We also see the river below
Not at the summit and unable to see the depth of the fall if we slipped
Another view at our rest stop up
We needed to go through a tunnel and needed to take our backpacks off
On top with little room to sit
Our student group on top
The view became both spectacular and worrisome for me. There is little room at the peak for many climbers, which is why the numbers doing the ascent is limited. I was unable to find a comfortable place to sit to eat my snacks. The students were happy though, and some of their pictures show the plus 1000 feet of air between their smiles and the river below. Profe and I started down ahead of the other students; I was a bit worried for me and Profe. There was one guy ahead of us who was even more worried than me, and it took a long while before we were able to pass him. By the time the students caught up to us, the difficult part was done and I started to relax.
A break in the clouds allowing us to see Machu Picchu
On the 2 above shots you can see the switchbacks up to Machu Picchu
Student shot, note the happy faces
Student selfie shot--note the river below--hang gliding anyone?
Student shot: Some of the steps
Student shot: smile but look at the student farther down
Student shot: Profe smiles but not me--no guardrail and the river below
Lower right--the person ahead of him was slowing our descent
Now some final shots from Machu Picchu zooming up at Wayna Picchu
From the Wayna Picchu gate after our descent now that the skies cleared
Look for color other than tree color
Now you can easily spot the colored shirts, terraces, and ruins of buildings on top
I'm shooting the same group with the green shirts.
Google Earth shots next
Google Earth: Machu Picchu center and Wayna Picchu upper center

Google Earth and Wayna Picchu

Paz, Neal Bierling