In A Nutshell
The Inca were originally a small group of Native American people who lived in the highlands of southwestern Peru during the fifteenth century. Unbelievably, in less than one-hundred years these amazing ancient people developed one of the most closely structured civilizations of the ancient world. Their governmental skills were rivaled only by their engineering abilities which they used in constructing fortresses, temples, irrigation systems, roadways, and walls, some of which are still being used today – and they did it without iron or the wheel. In 1532, the Spanish conquistadors first sacked the Inca capitol and then systematically scattered the empire around the region. It is estimated that 95% of the Inca population died from a smallpox epidemic brought on by their Spanish conquerors, so we are fortunate that they are still with us today.
The Whole Bushel
The City of Cusco, its *Quechua name translating to “the navel of the Earth”, was at one time the capital of the ancient Inca Empire. Cusco is also quite an archaeological site on its own, right along with Sacsayhuaman – the ancient megalithic fortress looming over the city that boasts some of the most amazing megalithic constructions on the planet. Within Cusco city limits are also ancient walls constructed of an incredible display of amazing masonry skills unrivaled in the world today. One of the attractions tourists seek out in Cusco is the incredible ‘twelve-cornered stone’ which is simply amazing in every respect, and very hard to describe since you need to see it to believe it.
The skills, tools, and knowledge it required to not only create this twelve-cornered masonry masterpiece but the other eleven stones that fit into it flawlessly as well, is a mystery. There is also a fifteen-cornered stone very similar to this one, and just as, if not even more amazing. Like all the other masonry of this type in South America, and especially southwestern Peru, thin items such as blades of pocketknives and even playing cards will not fit between the joints of these intricately cut, megalithic stones. This type of masonry using highly irregular surfaces is what is believed to make the structures impervious to the sometimes severe earthquakes the region is so well-known for.
The first governor and founder of Cusco was the Inca named Manco Capac. The center of the city was arranged to resemble a puma with its body being formed by the Tulumayo and Huatanay rivers, and head represented by Sacsayhuaman. Amazingly visible only from above, the big jungle cat’s tail is created where the rivers come together at a place called Pumaq Chupan, and the stealthy feline’s heart is formed by the Holy Square (Huacapata) where the Temple of the Sun (Coricancha) resides.
There is also a small puma built into a wall at street level in the city. Both the most magnificent and significant metropolis of the empire, Cusco was the sacred capital of the Tawantinsuyu, where these elite members of Inca society lived. The city was arranged about a central court from where roadways led to where the four regional governments (suyus) were located. Cusco was protected from invasion by Sacsayhuaman looming over the populace. It was comprised of the throne, storerooms, reservoirs, a temple, and of course an arsenal.
Sacsayhuaman is the main feature for many tourists although the city itself is fantastic too. Mainstream scientists believe that the Inca built this most impressive megalithic site, but the Inca themselves insist that it was there before them, and that they had nothing to do with its construction. This citadel is constructed from enormous polygonal blocks of solid stone with many weighing 90,000 kilograms (100 tons) or more, and over four meters (twelve feet) high! These odd-shaped megalithic blocks are fitted together so well that not even a sheet of paper can be inserted into the joints!
Show Me the Proof