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The Amazing New Adventures of Larry and Mark - Peru, Land of the Incas

Chapter 11 

"Sexy Woman"

Now that I've got your attention, Saqsaywaman  (pronounced: Sak'-say-hwa-mahn) is a mysterious walled

complex near Cusco, at an elevation of about 12,000 feet.  "Because Saqsaywaman  is hard for foreigners

to pronounce, the locals tell tourists to refer to Saqsaywaman archeological site as 'Sexy Woman.' "




 We arrive to see ever-present native Andean women showing off their colorful dress.




 Much of what is believed about Saqsaywaman's purpose is open to interpretation, because

a great deal of the stonework here was dismantled by the Spaniards in the 1500's

and taken for construction in Cusco.  Saqsaywaman, in the Quechua language,

means "satisified falcon."  The falcon was one of the animals basic to Inca religion,

and guarded the Inca capitol Cusco down in the valley. 



 There are three levels of enormous zig-zag stone walls.  The city of Cusco, it is said,

was built in the shape of a puma lying down. Saqsaywaman  was the head of the puma,

and the zigzag walls were the teeth.



 Saqsaywaman is usually described as a fortress because it is practically enclosed by three slopes.

However, modern investigations suggest that it probably was a temple devoted to the worship of the Sun,

for which both the construction and the surrounding landscape alignments were important.



 Many Inca walls have representations of animals carved in the

stone.  In this case, the image of a llama is created within the wall's blocks.




 there I am!


The largest carved boulder of the first wall weighs about 70 tons and was brought from a quarry 

about three kilometers away.  It is hard to imagine how these pre-industrial people were able

to move stones of this size. 





 Building started in 1440's by Inca Pachacutec, using great blocks of limestone, diorite, and andesite. 

20,000 workers built the complex, with the largest stone weighing over 300 tons! 

(I'm taking this information from the internet.  There is disagreement on how stone weights are

estimated -  usually by size estimation and guessing the density of the stones.  The numbers can be

way off, but the stones are - in the end - VERY heavy!)  Stones were somehow pre-measured,

rolled to the site, and placed so precisely  a sheet of paper won't fit between the stones.  It was there

that an unsuccessful bid to retake Peru from the Spaniards was fought by Inca Manco Capac II, following

which the Spaniards tore much of it down, using it for building materials.



 Architects and historians have repeatedly tried to duplicate the movement and fitting

together of these stones, without great success.



 The stone lintel, placed above the doorway, obviously is not original.



 As these sites are restored, many of the original stones are found to be placed in their

original position, but others are clearly from another time and place.  The smaller stones

inserted to complete this portion of wall are cut with a stone saw.  Even then, they don't

fit like the ones that were centuries old.




 This wide-open area, with multiple terraces, may have had ceremonial

purposes, with many attending religious rituals.  Much of the stone work

supporting the terraces is gone.







 More soon!


Larry Reich


You may reach me with comments:

Laurence Reich 

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