Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cusco - Day 9

Sunday, May 31
We continued our tour today with other Inkan sites in the Sacred Valley.
Our first stop was Tipon, east of Cusco. Although the Inkans created the landscape we see today, archaeologists have found petroglyphs proving humans were there 4,000 years ago.
What is unique is a constantly flowing spring that has been harnessed by inhabitants for centuries. But it was the Inkans who created an advanced system of controlling the water for irrigation and consumption -- and did it in harmony with nature.
The Inkans created 13 terraces for agricultural and ritual purposes.  
The terraces are bordered by rock walls. They are warmed by the sun during the day and then they emit enough heat to keep the crops from freezing at night.
About 1500 people were brought here from other parts of the empire to work the terraces and live in a village nearby. It took over 7 decades to complete.
There are several fountains around the area.
This is where the spring begins its journey through the system of small channels.
The water flowing through this area spits in two directions at the bottom. But this is a great photo to show the aesthetics of the Inkans and not just engineering skills.
Then we had lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the city of Cusco.
Our next stop was to an alpaca shop which had a vast selection of sweaters and accessories made of baby alpaca. A woman gave us a brief talk about the differences in quality in Peruvian goods made of wool. I found a beautiful multi-colored sweater with Inkan designs that called out my name and fit perfectly. I know I will enjoy it forever.
Then off to nearby Sacsayhuaman, which is sometimes referred to as "sexy woman" as a way to remember it. This complex, built during the reign of Inka Pachacutec in the 15th century, is made of massive stones weighing up to 125 tons.  Notable is the double wall in a zig zag shape - which may have represented the teeth of the puma, a sacred animal, or may have been a strategic military consideration.
There is evidence the site had both military and religious importance. It is positioned on a hill facing southeast towards the winter solstice and towards Cusco. It is also believed that Pachacutec built it to honor the sun (his father) because it can best be seen from the sky.
It took over 7 decades to complete. At one time there were some buildings, but 80% of the structure has been destroyed to provide construction materials for Cusco. 
The most amazing aspect of this complex is the Inkan stone masonry.  They were famous for creating walls with angled stones that fit perfectly together with no mortar.
There are two mysteries involved - how did they cut them so perfectly to fit and how did they move them? Some research indicates they were primarily cut and shaped using hammer-stones of harder rock. Although they had not discovered iron, they did have bronze tools, but they are not useful for working stone. The stones here are all limestone (whereas Machu Picchu is granite) because the Cusco area was once an ancient riverbed.
These two mysteries have been explored by US architect Vincent Lee. He thinks the stones were maneuvered onto massive log sleds, which were then levered along wooden rails. The fitting might have been done using a plumb line and a pantograph device that projected the profile of a finished stone onto and uncut block.
Pepe is pointing out how that theory would work.
While we were there, we saw llama grazing in the back pasture and we had to follow them. Pepe said they get sheared in September.
I don't know if some of them can wait that long.
Then back to the hotel and free time the rest of the day. I walked back to several of the plazas where people were playing games, music and generally having a good time just being together. I was surprised how many of the shops were still open on Sunday evening but many people were on the streets so I guess it's good business. Turned in early for a big day tomorrow.

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