The Pachacuti Yamqui Diagram

It is likely that the recording system based on quipus was used also to keep tracks of scientific observations of the sky, just like with the Mayan codes. Evidence of that is recorded in the Poma de Ayala's chronicle, where an Inca astronomer is depicted with a fork-like observation instrument in one hand and a quipu in the other. Furthermore, we do have convincing evidence from the chronicles that astronomically oriented sight lines radiated from the town's main square, where a large pillar and probably also a tower existed, and from where the movement of the various celestial bodies could be observed. It is, in particular, certain that some special points located on the hills around the town were used as markers for astronomical events. A number of stone pillars (no longer in existence) were laid out with this aim

Orejones Incas Wikipedia
Figure 10.11: The Inca astronomer, carrying a Quipu and a fork-like viewfinder (Poma de Ayala)
Easter Island Diagram Object
Figure 10.12: Pachacuti Yamqui diagram

on the various hills and were used to locate sunrise and sunset on special days, such as the winter solstice (June 21 in the Southern Hemisphere) and the summer solstice, corresponding to the Incan festivals of Inti Raymi and Capac Raymi, while other pillars probably indicated sunrise during the days in which the sun passes to the zenith. It also has been proposed (Zuidema 1988) that the Incas observed sunrise and sunset at the so-called anti-zenith, that is, when the sun crosses the zenith in the opposite hemisphere (these days correspond to the azimuth symmetrical with respect to due east with that of the zenith). However, no firm evidence has as yet been found for this proposal (Bauer and Dearborn 1995).

Exactly as in Mesoamerica, then, in Peru there was considerable interest in the solar standstills and in the zenith passage of the sun. Various sources confirm this, including the Miccinelli documents, in which there is a picture of a calendar, recording the astronomical events of the Incanyear (beginning in our June), which included the day of Conquest (November 16, 1532). Recorded events include moon phases, solstices, equinoxes, zenith passages, Pleiades disappearance and appearance, and a moon eclipse that occurred on February 9, 1533 (for further details see Laurencich Minelli and Magli 2007).

Besides the sun, the Incas thus observed many celestial bodies, such as the moon, on which the Incan calendar (or at least one of the calendars, perhaps a ritual one) was based, and Venus, in its dual aspects of morning and evening star. Furthermore, it is certain that many stars were identified and grouped in star-to-star constellations, such as the Chacana group, which was the Incan name for Orion, or the stars called Collca, the Pleiades, whose heliacal rising was carefully observed. Almost miraculously, we have a drawing that explicitly proves all of this. It was drawn by the noble Indio Pachacuti Yamqui in 1613. The drawing represents the celestial objects worshiped and studied in the Coricancha, the main temple of Cusco. The temple, with its structure still visible today inside the convent of Santo Domingo, is built using the square-block technique, strictly avoiding the use of polygonal joints, a fact which, as mentioned earlier, should have some connection with its symbolic meaning. Here the square-block technique reaches its maximum potential, especially in the exterior boundary wall, which is, for unknown reasons, of elliptical shape.

The interior had only one entrance and was composed of six rooms that overlooked a court; in the center of the court was ideally located the navel of the city and, as a consequence, of the whole Incan world. A room lined with gold was dedicated to the sun. Another lined in silver, was dedicated to the moon. Many other celestial objects were worshiped there, according to the sources and to the depiction of the "celestial pantheon'' given by Pachacuti. This depiction mirrors the idea of duality typical of Incan thought, even though some elements are probably added as an apology to the pre-conquest religion, seen as a sort of precognition of Christianity.

The temple is represented as a house or church with the Southern Cross in

Easter Island Diagram Object

Figure 10.13: Plan of Huanuco Pampa (from Gasparini and Margolies 1997)

Figure 10.13: Plan of Huanuco Pampa (from Gasparini and Margolies 1997)

its center, so that the cusp of the Coricancha represents the Celestial South Pole with the Southern Cross on top of it. The sacred space below is vertically divided, with an oval (perhaps resembling the boundary wall of the temple) in the center. On the left there are the sun, Venus morning star, a group of 13 stars (maybe the Pleiades), a rainbow, lightning, the earth's surface, the seven main Pleiades indicated as Virarocha's eyes, and a man. In the center there is another starred cross, probably again the Southern Cross, while on the right there is a woman and, top to bottom, the moon, Venus evening star, clouds, a black figure representing a crying feline, the inner part of the earth, and a tree. Finally, on the left, outside the perimeter of the temple, the constellation of Orion is depicted.

It is to be expected that interest in the celestial bodies might be reflected in astronomical alignments of buildings. Research on this aspect of Incan astronomy, however, is still quite incomplete, and only a few examples are known. One is given by the northeast wall of the Coricancha, which is aligned to the rising of the Pleiades, and others have been proposed but not confirmed for some of the lines of the ceque system. Perhaps the most spectacular example of alignment in an Incan building is that visible at the provincial site called Huanuco Pampa (Morris and Thompson 1985). This town is an Incan administrative center, created from scratch in the central highlands of Chinchaysuyu, at an altitude of 3700 meters. It exhibits a very interesting plan, composed of four main quarters surrounding an enormous plaza that is completely empty, except for a severe, square building that was probably used for ceremonial purposes. Although various claims have been made (e.g., Morris and Thompson 1985, Pino 2005), in my view there is no clear evidence that the plan of the town deliberately included a radial organization of the space similar to that of Cusco, aside from the quadripartition of the quarters, which probably corresponded also to a social/functional division. However, the east sector of the town, which is the

Bedford Indiana Easter Island
Figure 10.14: The east-west alignment at Huanuco Pampa. Notice the stylized feline figures near the lintel of the first door (from Gasparini and Margolies 1997)

unique part built in fine Incan stonework and was thus certainly devoted to the rulers and to ritual activities, exhibits one of the strangest and most spectacular astronomical alignment of which I am aware of.

The buildings of the sector are constructed in a sequence that is not aligned, because each axis bends slightly toward the north; however, the doors of the buildings are aligned in the east-west direction, and therefore from the innermost room of the outermost building one can see the center of the huge plaza and its ceremonial platform, and across to four subsequent doors, each one constructed in fine stonework.

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