Ancient Andes – science and mysticism

What do you see in this picture?


Anything peculiar?  Big forehead, large nose, chin sticking out… ?

The first time I saw it I was as shocked as probably you are right now. I remember I showed it to somebody after coming back to Germany and they told me: “Yea… but come on, do you really think Inca saw it also? .. “. I am sure they did. More than that – I am sure it was one of the reasons why they chose this, and not any other location, for the city..

Machu Picchu is not the only place like this, Inca ruins are full of natural or ‘built-in’ symbols. Unfortunately we usually miss them, because, sadly, for us stones are just stones and buildings are just buildings. Everything needs to have its logical, useful, down-to-earth purpose, there is no space for spirituality or mysticism.

In the times of Inca it was different. The earth was driven by the force of Pachamama, nature was full of spirits and deities, the world was enterity, and we, humans, were part of it. That’s why what we now see as stones and buildings had a hidden meaning.

It is sometimes hard to distinguish between science and mysticism on this level – I think that at that time one always fed the other. The gains of astronomy were used to construct ceremonial places and temples, and the spiritual view of the world powered the astronomical research..

Example 1 – Ollantaytambo

In Ollantaytambo there is a wall, made out of perfectly fitted large stones. When I saw it for the first time I was completely confused by the small protruding parts. I was wondering what were they useful for, but none of my idea was even close to the truth.

P1370119It turns out that the wall is the calendar for the most imporant ceremonial dates in the year. The protrusions are simply markers for the direction of the shadow that the sun throws at a special day. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. Just think about the astronomical knowledge one needs to construct the wall and carve stones in advance!

cajamarca and around1

Example 2 – Copacabana, Bolivia

In Copacabana, the Bolivian city at the Titicaca lake, there is a peculiar structure, up on the mountain. People call it now  Horca del Inca – meaning the Gallows of Inca. When the Spanish arrived they believed the structure was used to hang the people.. (every culture judges by their own measures..).


The Gallows of the Inca are in fact not gallows and probably also not Inca. Some say it is an ancient pre-inca ceremonial place, others that it is an ancient astronomical observatory (I think it possible that the two were connected). On the 21st of June, the day of the sun solstice, the rays of sun fall through the holes produced in the rocks, creating a light spot on the stone bar and the forehead of the person (priest?) standing below it..


 Example 3 – Qenqo, Cusco

A couple posts ago I wrote about ruins of Qenqo close to Cusco. In Qenqo there is a weird looking stone.. When Inca looked at it, do you think they saw a stone or the puma?

cajamarca and around

from the book by Mallku Aribalo

Do you still doubt that Inca knew there was a face of a man above their sacred city of Machu Picchu?


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