The ancient Incan city of Pumapunku or Puma Punku is a site in Bolivia which features astoundingly modern stonework. According to the Inca, Pumapunku (The Door of the Puma) was the spot where the world was created. The stones, some weighing more than 130 metric tons, were transported from 6 miles away without wheels. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the site, is the way that the stonework was cut for metal fittings, allowing them to be clamped together. How on earth did a civilization with no form of writing and lacking the invention of the wheel build something so modern?
The Incan Empire included modern-day Peru and Ecuador, and parts of Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. It was held together by a vast road system connecting the coastal regions to the many valleys the Incans controlled. The terrain is so rough, and their empire so large, that scholars today are not sure exactly how large their road system was! Estimates range from 14,000 to 25,000 miles of road (or 22,500 km and 40,000 km).
Choquequirao is a 15th and 16th century settlement associated with the Incan Empire, or more correctly Tawantinsuyu. The site had two major growth stages. This could be explained if Pachacuti founded Choquequirao and his son, Tupaq Inka Yupanki, remodeled and extended it after becoming the Sapa Inka. Choquequirao is located in the area considered to be Pachacuti’s estate; which includes the areas around the rivers Amaybamba, Urabamba, Vilcabamba, Victos and Apurímac. Other sites in this area are Saywite, Machu Picchu, Chachapampa (Chachabamba), Chuqisuyuy(Choquesuysuy) and Wamanmarka (Guamanmarca); all of which share similar architectural styles with Choquequirao. The architectural style of several important features appears to be of Chachapoya design, suggesting that Chachapoya workers were probably involved in the construction. This suggests that Tupaq Inka probably ordered the construction. Colonial documents also suggest that Tupaq Inka ruled Choquequirao since his great grandson, Tupa Sayri, claimed ownership of the site and neighboring lands during Spanish colonization.
It was one of the last bastions of resistance and refuge of the Son of the Sun (the “Inca”), Manco Inca Yupanqui, who fled Cusco after his siege of the city failed in 1535.
According to the Peruvian Tourism Office, “Choquequirao was probably one of the entrance check points to the Vilcabamba, and also an administrative hub serving political, social and economic functions. Its urban design has followed the symbolic patterns of the imperial capital, with ritual places dedicated to Inti (the Incan sun god) and the ancestors, to the earth, water and other divinities, with mansions for administrators and houses for artisans, warehouses, large dormitories or kallankas and farming terraces belonging to the Inca or the local people. Spreading over 700 meters, the ceremonial area drops as much as 65 meters from the elevated areas to the main square." The city also played an important role as a link between theAmazon Jungle and the city of Cusco.
Speaking Threads: New Evidence about the Mysterious Incan Quipus
Quipus were tied strings used widely in the Incan Empire. We know they were used for record keeping – counting people and livestock and potatoes – but it has long been speculated that the quipus might have been used for storing more complicated information. Could knotted strings have been their writing system? New evidence suggests it was, at minimum, possible. Two quipus have been protected by one remote Andean village since around the time of the Spanish conquest. San Juan de Collata’s village elders recently invited a researcher to study the two quipus the community had carefully preserved for generations.
Portrait of Túpac Amaru, the last Sapa Inca. In 1533, after the death of Atahualpa, Atahualpa’s brother, Manco Inca Yupanqui, was crowned Emperor by the Spaniards. In 1536, he revolted, gathered troops, and marched on the city of Cuzco and besieged it. The revolt was only partially successful, and he fled to the remote city of Vilcabamba where he continued to rule as Sapa Inca of a “post-Inca” or “neo-Inca” state. He was succeeded by his three sons, of whom Túpac Amaru was the last. Túpac Amaru was captured and executed by the Spanish in 1572, bringing the Inca Empire to a permanent end.