to construction of any building, palace, temple, village
or city; Quechuas had a process of physical planning
tending to ensure later success. Undeniably.
knowledge used was not only a product of creative capacity
of these Andean villagers, but a many centuries accumulation
of continuous cultural development. As it was indicated before,
Peruvian culture has an age from 18 to 20 thousand years B.C.
Peruvian scholar Victor Angles states: " Inkan stage
is the shortest in the development of pre-Hispanic people,
it is the last political time characterized by a quick and
powerful military expansion that crowns long earlier stages
of gradual formation of nations".
Prior to executing any construction Inkas made some sketches
and designs, and models or maquettes in scales which measurement
systems mainly based in anthropometry (measures with relationship
to the human body: arms, elbows, feet, steps, spans, etc.)
are lost. A demonstration of this in-advance planning are
the large amount of maquettes found in almost all the archaeological
museums in the country; they are carved in stone or made
Around the world, no other ancient or modern civilization
could ever reach the technique, skills and ease to carve
lithic material as Quechuas did in this corner of the earth.
Inkas are recognized among some other aspects, for their
balanced social organization, their mastered and peculiar
way to work stones, their advanced knowledge in planning
and engineering, and because of their epoch and without
intervention or influence from other intercontinental cultures
they developed one of the most advanced civilizations of
There are still some doubts about the way how stones were
fitted so precisely. Those doubts are based on the lack of
chronicles or detailed ancient records about those techniques.
There are some hypothesis that are framed inside logical possibilities:
the most feasible indicates that work was very slow but effective
and as it is normal walls were started by the lower part taking
care of just the lateral fits, the following upper row was
more complex because stones had to fit laterally as well as
in the lower joints. In this case it is proved practically
everywhere in Qosqo that upper faces of lower stones were
carved slowly bumping them with stone hammers according to
the shape of the inferior surface of upper stones. The work
was relatively simple when manipulating small or medium stones,
because they could be placed or tried many times; but problems
arose when working with megalithic boulders of dozens and
even hundreds of tons. Reality suggests that Quechuas could
use natural size models or maquettes made on light materials
and perhaps clay. Those models were supposed to be reproduced
exactly on huge boulders; surely, use of this method helped
enormously making works easier. Another respected opinion
states that they could use in a certain way a present day
technique that consists in copying with some wires or metal
tapes the shape of the desired stones (in Qosqo's archaeological
museum there is a very long silver tape), thus they made possible
a really complex work.
Many medium and large stones that are part of Inkan walls
have almost always 2 high relief carvings or moldings in
the lower part of their faces. In some cases like in Saqsaywaman
those carvings are in low relief and served for facilitating
transportation, lifting, and manipulation of stones during
the building process,. Many of those moldings were removed
once the wall was finished, but because of some unknown
reason certain stones still keep them. There are some exceptional
cases like in Qosqo's Qorikancha where the inside face of
the semi-round wall known as "solar drum" shows
unusual moldings surrounding the trapezoidal niche; it is
evident that they were not used for manipulating the blocks
but they had some religious duty or ideo-graphic meaning
that is lost.
Among the materials used in Inkan walls is the adobe or
sun dried mud brick. Many buildings and even whole cities
in the Tawantinsuyo were made with this material; that is
the case of Pachacamaq which stands south of Lima. In order
to make "adobes" some good quality earth was chosen
preferably clayish that was mixed with ichu the native wild
bunch grass, and in certain cases with llama or alpaca wool
too. All these materials were blended with water, placed
in rectangular molds and then dried to the sun. Adobe buildings
were and are still preferred in the Andes because they are
easy to get and have thermal properties; they last forever
when covered with thatched or tile roofs.
In the Inkan stone buildings there are diverse types of
walls and bondings. They are resumed in five basic ones:
- The Rustic or "Pirka"
type: Made with non carved rough stones accommodated
without much care; the empty spaces in the joints were filled
up with small stones and abundant mud mortar. This type
was used for construction of farming terraces, storehouses,
homes for common people, etc.
- The Cellular type:
It has an aspect that is similar to the structure of a honeycomb.
It was normally made with small or medium polygonal limestones;
examples of this type are found in Qolqanpata, Chinchero,
- The Enchased type:
Made with polygonal, medium size igneous stones. Examples
of this type are the Principal Temple in Ollantaytambo,
the Three Windows Temple in Machupicchu, Hatun Rumiyoq in
- The Sedimentary or Imperial
Inkan: Consisting basically of medium sized stones
preferably andesites of regular height in horizontal rows
that give the impression of being totally rectangular. This
is the bond that has the most perfect polished joints "where
it is impossible to slip even a shaving blade or a paper
sheet". It has no mortar except a very thin clay screen
as a sealant that seems to have been placed in liquefied
or liquid state to enable moving and manipulating stones.
- The Cyclopean type:
Also known as Megalithic is characterized for containing
enormous boulders that in some cases can reach 8.5 mts.
(28 ft.) high; like those that are seen in Saqsaywaman or
what is left from the high altar of the Main Temple in Ollantaytambo.
Architecture. On the wall surfaces, stone side views (cross
sections) may be "cushioned" (semi-round edges),
convex, beveled or flat. Meanwhile, their joints may be
carved or polished. Normally, Inkan walls are leaning or
have some inclination inwards. There is not a general rule
or measurement for that inclination and its main duty was
to search some balance between the walls that support each
other. Commonly the lower stones are bigger or have more
volume than the upper ones. Besides, Inkan walls are frequently
wider on the base than on the superior part. Moreover, the
classical shape of Inkan architecture is the trapezoid that
gives a stability and balance sensation. It is undeniable
that immortality was searched; the way how to make anti
seismic buildings, everlasting and indestructible by any
natural catastrophe. Only men, blinded by fanatical ideologies
could destroy them partially.
Constructing the roofings urged highly qualified techniques
and knowledge. They were generally made supported on wooden
beams and covered with thatch of "ichu", the local
wild grass. According to the shape of their coverings, roofs
may be classified in 4: of a single watershed or slope;
of two slopes; of four slopes and conical ones. Just imagine
how impressive the roof structures of some huge buildings
were, such as that of the Wiraqocha Temple in Raqchi that
had a " Kallanka" structure of 92 X 25.25 Mts.
(302 X 83 ft.) covering an area of 2,323 m² (25004
ft²). Due to materials used and the amount of rainfalls
during the year, the roofs had a strong inclination varying
from 50° to 65°. Because the local wild grass "ichu"
does not last forever the roofs had a frequent maintenance.
"Ichu" roofings must have been renewed every three
or four years as it happens nowadays.
Another impressive element were the river canals such as
those of the Watanay and the Willkamayu (Urubamba) Rivers
that must have been built orderly and in straight lines.
Even today in some sectors of these rivers it is possible
to appreciate the lateral well-carved stone walls. Bridges
were built in order to cross rivers and their bases are
still identified. A fine example of bridges is the one seen
today in Qheswachaka over the Apurimac River. It is made
in community work by the people who use it and with the
ancestral Andean technique. All the previous are some samples
of native engineering and technology, that time, forgetfulness
and the lack of identity darkened and are still darkening.