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Ancient Architects #History and Archaeology

Sacsayhuaman in 1840 | Evidence for a Water World

When we look at the ancient structures of Peru and Bolivia, we all take note of the ruinous state of what were once some prime examples of amazing ancient architecture.

Some incredible things do remain, like the walls of Sacsayhuaman, the amazing Piedra Cansada or Chinkana Grande, the polygonal walls on the streets of Cuzco as well as some of the masonry of the Coricancha. Since the site was cleared, Machu Picchu is also better preserved than many other Peruvian sites.


I stated in my last video that I believe a lot of the damage is modern, inflicted in the past 500 years, not some kind of natural catastrophe, but human-induced destruction to remove vestiges of the indigenous Andean cultures.


As well as destruction during and just after the Spanish conquest, we know that parts of Sacsayhuaman were destroyed by dynamite blasts in the early 20th century, when parts of the site was used as a stone quarry and also because authorities wanted the underground tunnels blocked, to stop treasure hunters and tourists. They were also potentially dangerous.


With this in mind, I went hunting for descriptions and sketches of Sacsayhuaman before the 20th century because as well trying to find out what certain parts of the site were like before the damage, we might also find more evidence for now-lost water-related structures as well.


Apart from the famous Spanish chronicles, which are not always deemed credible because of the politics of the day, finding such descriptions wasn’t an easy task. Thankfully I came across the work of Francis Comte de Castelnau, apologies if I butchered that name, who travelled across Peru and Bolivia in the 1840s. Links to his work are below.


In this video, I review the descriptions and pictures from the 1840s, provided by Castelnau, and also look at yet more scientific, geophysical evidence that shows that Sacsayhuaman was built originally to manage water for Cusco and surrounding agricultural land.


All images are taken from Google Images and the below sources for educational purposes only.

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Matt
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