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Famous 12 angle Inca stone topped but not overshadowed by 13 angle stone

Martin Chambi - The Stone of Twelve Angles - Cusco - 1925For centuries, it was held up as the preeminent example of Inca polygonal stone masonry: the famous 12-angle stone.

The massive jigsaw piece is carved with 12 angles to fit perfectly with the stones around it in a monumental foundation on Hatun Rumiyoc Street in Cusco. It is widely believed to have once been part of the palace of Inca Roca, the sixth Sapa Inca ruler of the Kingdom.

The 12-angle stone’s iconic curves are a mainstay of the Peruvian esthetic. It extends beyond Peru’s borders, from tourist lounges and kitsch hostal lobbies all the way to  haughty university classrooms in the United States and Europe.

Art historian Adam Herring wrote about it in an excellent semiotic study, Shimmering Foundation: The Twelve-Angled Stone of Inca Cusco.

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda referred to as “rocky petals,” Herring noted, and a young Ché Guevara called it “an ingma in stone.”

When you tour Cusco, see how  many times you can spot the 12-angle stone incorporated into business signs and logosCountless businesses, including Peru’s most important railroad concession, PeruRail, and beer company, Cuzqueña, have engraved the stone into their corporate identities.

Now comes news just released by Peru’s Ministry of Culture that, far from the tourist Mecca that is Cusco, in an isolated Inca ruins called Inkawasi de Huaytará, archaeologists have discovered a carved stone with 13 angles.

That’s right, thirteen. Read More »

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Bargain flights to Cusco and other destinations on Peruvian Airlines from $59

Cheap flights in October with Peruvian Airlines to Cusco, Arequipa, Iquitos, Tarapoto, Pucallpa and TacnaBargain Travel Alert! Book now and save on the purchase of airline tickets for domestic routes with Peruvian Airlines. OCTOBER special!

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Machu Picchu Word Jumble

 

Solve the Machu Picchu puzzle

Solve the Machu Picchu puzzle

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How to pronounce the name of that awesome ruins above Cusco

Sacsayhuaman, Sacsawaman... Sexy Woman... no matter how you pronounce it, the Inca temple fortress remains one of the greatest structures ever built.
On the hillside above Cuzco lies the temple fortress of Sacsayhuamán… or is it Saqsaywaman?

The spelling, pronunciation and meaning of the name of this awe-inspiring titanic feat of Inca megalithic architecture has evolved over the centuries.

Many a guide will instruct English-speakers on tour in Cusco to start with the words Sexy Woman (cringe), and work from there:

Sexy-Woman…
Sax-See-Woman…
Sac-Sigh-Wha-Man…

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See yourself in the star mirrors of Machu Picchu

Mortars of Machu Picchu - Theory: They reflect astronomical movement and the passage of the sun across the zenith

When Hiram Bingham embarked on his second, more thorough, expedition to Machu Picchu in 1912, he came upon two large bowl-shaped objects hewn into a solid granite floor.

He was sure he had stumbled into the Inca’s kitchen.

Monolithic kitchen utensils at Machu Picchu - Bingham 1912 ExpeditionThe carved granite boulders in the floor were obviously “utensils” for grinding corn and chuño, a traditional freeze dried potato, he surmised.

Bingham even asked one of his Indian workers to pose with a large stone “pestle” laying nearby to demonstrate his conclusion.

For decades, that interpretation held sway.

But somewhere halfway between Bingham’s death in 1956 and the centennial  celebration of his “scientific discovery” of the Inca Citadel, researchers started to dispute that interpretation, as they did many of his theories.

For one thing, “the depressions are far wider than historical or current Andean mortar-stones would suggest,” noted Hugh Thomson, author of terrific, must-read books, like Cochineal Red and The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland. Read More »

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