New insights in Inca architecture

Lima March 31 2010 Tonight explorer and former director of the Royal Geographical Society John Hemming gave a talk in the Teatro Britanico on the occasion of the second edition of his book Monuments of the Incas. In the last 20 years there have been many new insights regarding architecture in the most important American empire. Hemming spoke about the areas masonry, functions and new discoveries.

Royal estates researched

It is now clear that the Incas built their stone walls only with man power. They flattened the surfaces of the stones with harder pounding stones. Regarding functions it has been discovered that the Incas replicated miniature Cusco´s all over the empire as provincial capitals. Examples are Vilcashuaman and Cuenca in Ecuador. Much research the last 20 years has been done as well in the royal estates around Cusco. Viracocha was the first emperor to built himself such an estate in Uscubamba near Yucay. These royal estates were private property and were not inherited by the new emperor, who had to build a new one, but by the rest of his brothers, forming the panaca or lineage of the deceased emperor.
Viracochas successor Pachacutec, the Napoleon or Alexander the Great of the Americas, built several such estates; Machu Picchu, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Tupac Yupanqui built his in Chinchero, now the fundaments of the church, and is probably responsable for Choquequirao as well. The last emperor before the arrival of the Spanish, Huayna Capac, built his estate near Urubamba.
Changes in architecture
By researching these estates the changes in Inca architecture became clear as well. Previously it was thought that the 95 years of their empire were too little to allow for much development. But the palace of Huayna Capac was a big compound with buildings, lakes etc. on a flat terrain surrounded by a wall with high gates. Like the Forbidden City in Peking. Not like Machu Picchu at all. Built from smaller stones and clay. Reasons why there is not much left of it. But an enormous change in architecture from the previous constructions.
The Island of the Sun and the Copacabana peninsula are more researched as well and it has been discovered that the Island of the Sun was an important pilgrimage site. Not only had the sun been born there, but the god Viracocha and the first Inca couple as well. More is known as well about the importance of mountains, rocks and water for the choice of Inca monuments.
Your own imagination
Hemming ended his talk by applauding the way the INC is reconstructing monuments, although he remarked on the extensive use of concrete and the disappearance of the romantic atmosphere and he said ´anyway, you can never reconstruct the colours, the gorgeous fabrics and especially the people; the emperor with his servants, the priests and the holy women. For this you can only use your own imagination.´