Large pre-Inca astronomical observatory discovered at a Cusco site, in Peru


Last week, we talked about the reconstruction of the Wari Queen, who lived almost 1,200 years ago in coastal Peru. And one of the areas dominated by the pre-Inca Wari culture (in circa 700-1000 AD) pertained to the south-central Andes region of the country, in what now constitutes the Cusco area. The Espiritu Pampa archaeological site in this very region revealed the remnants of an astronomical observatory, which has been touted as being a part of one of the larger complexes found in Peru.


Assessed by the state-run Decentralized Culture Directorate of Cusco (DDCC), the researchers came across a pretty large D-shaped temple at the site. Quite intriguingly, a smaller D-shaped structure was identified at the middle of this temple. Given its locational symbolism, it could be theorized that this particular structure was used as an astronomical observatory for ritualistic purposes. Suffice it to say, the structure was probably made by the aforementioned Wari culture, as could be discerned from the architectural features. The observatory was also complemented by massive stone walls, along with a flurry of ceramic artifacts.


The archaeologists noted two specific spatial elements defined by small stones within the temple that contained a range of ritual-related objects. For example, the first of them had tooth fragments salvaged from some local animal species. Contrastingly, the second area housed two Wari style ceramic bottles, an entire chest plate made of silver, accompanied by a silver crown or headdress (pictured above). And interestingly enough, one of the ceramic specimens clearly depicts a human head with big set eyes, nose, and crown atop its head – with the latter possibly alluding to how the complex was used by elite government figures during the apical stage of the Wari culture.


And lastly, in addition to the buildings made by the Wari people, the Espiritu Pampa archaeological site also revealed the structural accomplishments of their Inca successors. To that end, the researchers also identified circular and rectangular spatial elements made by the Inca, and these were probably used as storerooms for Inca tupus (pins), silver needles, and ceremonial pottery. In any case, the researchers are looking forth to conserve all these pre-Hispanic structures and artifacts for further detailed analysis.

Source: Andina / All Images Credit: Peruvian Ministry of Culture