Intiwatana Inca Calendar

Coordinates: 13° 09′ 39.32” S / 72° 32′ 47.18” O Alt.:2397msnm

  1. Introduction

In all the great ceremonial centers and towns of theTawantinsuyu, There were some lithic artifacts of impressive workmanship, finely finished, that were supposedly used to make astronomical observations and perform rituals dedicated to the Sun god. Of them only a few remain, almost all of them incomplete and eroded, but one remained that remained intact and that is how it was discovered. : is the popularly calledThe sun is shining of Machu Picchu, a citadel that was not known by the peninsular invaders.

HeThe sun is shining It is located at the top of a great pyramid and the highest point of the Machu Picchu citadel. It is the place most visited by tourists, awakening in all of them, including researchers and scholars, a justified amazement, enigma and desire to know its use, importance and symbology.

Even though most of the scholars and articles that have been written about this wonder of the world conceptualize theThe sun is shining as an instrument for making astronomical observations, to date there is no consensus in the scientific community about its true usefulness or the functions it may have had; However, nothing is concluded and researchers continue investigating to demonstrate this possibility. However, this magical instrument continues to fascinate and attract the attention of all who see it and it is anxiously hoped that it will one day reveal its true usefulness or its links with other aspects of the Andean worldview.

  1. Definition and origins

The wordIntawatana, The popular name by which this enigmatic stone structure is known does not exist in any Quechua dictionary from the early days of the Spanish invasion, nor does it appear in the administrative or religious documentation of that time. The wordintawatana, Thus written, it only appeared in the 19th century when in 1856 Clement Markham, an English explorer, named it this way when recording a large rock that is located above the archaeological remains of Ollantaytambo and that the locals knew it by that name. Years later, the American scholar and traveler George Squier, in 1877, copied the name ofthe sun is shining and he recorded it in his texts to name the lithic artifact of Machu Picchu. Finally, it was Hiram Bingham who, repeating Squier, made him popular worldwide when he published his research in the journalNational Geographic, in 1912, and in his well-known book:Machu Picchu, the citadel of the Incas, in 1930.Thus he ended up convincing the world that such a lithic artifact was calledThe sun is shining and that would be a kind ofsolar watch.

No early chronicler or dictionary made reference to this termthe sun is shining so we infer that it isneologism of the Quechua, a word that came in late and replaced another that did, represents

this magnificent lithic instrument: that word isthe sucker or lithic gnomon intended for the observation of the different positioning of the Sun. There are also scholars who propose other alternative names such asboundaries Othe creator of the universe,both words also supported by chronicles and probably refer to the same instrument.

The early extermination of the Inka nobility with the disappearance of the Willaq Umu, the Amautas and other knowledge specialists produced a vacuum that could not be filled with the popular knowledge that the people had and whose knowledge was basic and limited, full of superstitions resulting from of his lack of education. And also to the vertical system of its social organization in whose pyramid knowledge was the privilege only of the Inka and the nobility, the only holders of this cultural benefit. Hence comes the vulgarization of many Quechua terms that finally reached us with such distortions that now do not allow us to discriminate between the original and what was subsequently transformed.

If we search on the Internet for the wordthe sun is shining or we ask

To an ordinary person in our environment, he will surely tell us that the word cited meansthe place where the Sun is tied. Simply because the easiest and most popular etymology would lead us to that conclusion. But, really, what is the meaning of this word?

The sun is shiningcomes from two nouns:You = Sun andwith, of moon = year, and which complemented with the suffix “na” denotes a potential form. Thuswith It is a kind of annualization, annuity or closing of a cycle or period that lasts one year. We must not forget that Quechua is a language with a lot of synonyms, so it is alsomoon, which comes from the verbdrove, means to tie the knot.

Garcilaso de la Vega gives us a definition ofmoon and says:

“…the Incas realized that the movement of the Sun ended in one year,

which they called huata: it is a name and means year, and the same diction,

without changing pronunciation or accent, in another meaning it is a verb and means to bind.”

As will be seen, the second part of the word the sun is shining it means

unquestionably a year and we believe it is the right thing to do. Otherwise we would continue with the traditional error of believing that the Inkastied up to the Sun: Can it beto tie to the sun? Could a mere mortal dareatar to a divinity? Neither symbolically nor metaphorically could such barbarity be accepted, it would be absurd, a true sacrilege. The priestly and political class that governed theTawantinsuyu He was not so ignorant to undertake such nonsense.

As an example, I will relate a popular belief that demonstrates the naivety and superstition that the people of the towns still retain in relation to the history of the Inkas: an old man named Cristóbal, a guardian who worked on the hacienda ofLlaullipata, the place where the Cusco Planetarium is located, told us on one occasion that in his hometown, back in Quispicanchis, it was said that the enormous stones with which they were builtTo the Sacred and other Cusco monuments had been moved through the fields by rolling themwith whips by priests or project leaders who possessed that fabulous power. The same thing, and with overflowing fantasy, continues to be told today, appealing to supposed extraterrestrial help.

Although it is true that there are chronicles that show the existence of a statue of pure gold that represented the Sun and that was called The day, this was in the Qorikancha and I doubt it ever wastied for a ceremonial Perhaps there was a simile in Machu Picchu that was placed at the top of theThe sun is shining, we do not know nor have any certainty. What happened with this and other words, as well as with customs and traditions, is that they were denatured, distorted, accommodated and even prohibited during the colony to overshadow the greatness of theTawantinsuyu

The priests andhamaut’as (amautas: master philosophers) as well as other specialists were those who managed knowledge and information, which is why they were in charge of programming the agricultural campaigns, as well as the great religious and festive events of Tawantinsuyu. All according to a calendar schedule that was based on the observation of the Sun and its movements, as well as that of the Moon, the stars and constellations to find the most convenient and exact dates for each event or celebration.

Until today, in every place where there was a population or important city of Tawantinsuyu, these lithic instruments were probably intended for ritual and astronomical purposes. They are all different in design and construction, but are called genericallysunny days, and they do not always look like that of Machu Picchu.

  1. HeIntawatana,description and possible astronomical function

Archaeoastronomy has not yet been able to precisely define the

astronomical functions ofThe sun is shiningof Machu Picchu because it does not

the probable astronomical alignments that

it is believed he could have had. The shadow projections that could have

made the Sun both in the solstices, the equinoxes and other observable astronomical events, they do not have a footprint, a trace or marks on the stone table on top of which the gnomon stands. Nor is there a wall or place in its surroundings where these marks or signs could have been made with the gnomon’s shadow projections; there is no evidence of those records.

Numerous scientists from around the world have visited Machu Picchu and many of them, specialized in archeology and archaeoastronomy, have studied theThe sun is shining very prolixly and published his research in prestigious magazines and books. Among them there were pioneering investigations such as those carried out by the German Rolf Müller, published in 1972 and later corroborated by Dieter B. Herrmann, another German researcher, in 2011. In the meantime, more than a dozen famous researchers also carried out studies in theThe sun is shining. Some of the most notable were: Anthony Aveni, Brian Bauer and David Dearborn, Peter Frost, Gerald Hawkins, Giulio Magli, Steven Gullberg and others. In addition, there was a study carried out by the University of Oviedo in Spain and the University San Antonio de Abad in Cusco, whose participants were Benjamín Sánchez, Jorge Díaz and Ing. Oscar Chara Zereceda from Cusco.

From all of them and after reviewing abundant bibliography, in addition to my own research, I can state the following:

  1. HeThe sun is shining It is a monolithic structure sculpted into an outcrop of granite stone. It consists of a quadrangular stone base about two meters on each side and about ninety centimeters high, it has on one of its faces two steps that access a kind of table on top of which, and towards the center, an irregular prism is sculpted. , part of the same rock, in the form of a small column, approximately sixty centimeters high. It is assumed that the lithic prism functioned as an astronomical gnomon. The lithic prism or gnomon has four faces and its edges are not geometrically perfect. Almost all of its edges are somewhat inclined towards the center so that the face that serves as the cusp is somewhat smaller than its base. Furthermore, the SE face has a slight inclination towards the north and the SW edge is somewhat curved. Only the angle of the gnomon’s SW face is right, the others do not form right angles.
  2. The lithic gnomon, which is believed to have been used as an astronomical marker, points with its E-W axis approximately the sunrise on the December solstice (summer –The Rich Ray, towards the NE) and also the sunset on the June solstice (winter –The Sun Ray, towards the NW). It is the only more or less approximate astronomical alignment. This alignment coincides with the orientation of the cave ofInti Mach’ay, in the same citadel of Machu Picchu.
  3.  The four faces, as well as the angles that form the top of the lithic gnomon, do not point precisely to the four cardinal points either. They only vaguely approximate.
  4. The south face of the gnomon has an inclination towards the north, approximately 12-13 degrees (approximately coinciding with the geographical latitude of Machu Picchu). Faces and vertices, we repeat, are not geometrically perfect to allow a more exact measurement.
  5. Neither face or side of the gnomon coincides with the points of sunrise on the June (winter) solstice, nor the sunset on the December (summer) solstice.
  6. Nor has it been possible to determine its use to make lunar observations because none of its orientations agree with the lunar positions that could serve agricultural calendrical purposes and much less to determine that they indicated the extreme positions of the Moon’s rise over the horizon. called Mondays.

The accompanying graph explains the main orientations that can be deduced from the lithic gnomon.


SSSJ = Sunrise (Solar Sunrise) on the June Solstice (Winter- Inti Raymi)

SSSD= Sunrise at December solstice (summer – Qhapaq Raymi)

PSSJ = Sunset (solar sunset) on the June solstice

PSSD = Sunset on the December solstice.

As a speculation we can explain other ways of observation that the Inkas made in this place. Taking advantage of the digital visualization, published by Engineer Oscar Chara Zereceda, we can conclude that:

The probable place of observation of the June solstice would be on a staircase of seven steps that reaches the place of theThe sun is shining on the W-SW side and that looking towards the stone gnomon would serve to observe the sunrise on June 21. On the other hand, from the W-NW corner of the wall that surrounds theThe sun is shining and looking in the direction of the lithic gnomon, you can see with some precision the direction of sunrise on the Summer Solstice, December 22, but there is no formal observation point.

On the other hand, it is believed that the lithic gnomon could rather indicate some positions of the Zenith Sun or dates on which the shadows of the gnomon’s faces completely disappear. Unfortunately there have not been

We have been able to verify such measurements because these faces of the lithic prism are not straight, they are all inclined except for the west face, and its current polishing does not allow us to define if it was ever completely smooth. At noon, during the passage of the Sun through the meridian of the place, the gnomon shows slight shadows which, logically, should not appear.

Another aspect that cannot go unnoticed is that the base of the rock of theThe sun is shining is fractured, which could be the cause of some angular deviation. The same could be said of the tectonic changes of the Earth’s crust (earthquakes and earthquakes) that have caused its precision to vary over the years; As is known, the Andes are constantly growing and its impact on the mountain orography is decisive in its variations over time. Unfortunately, no studies have been done on this matter.

  1. Symbology and interpretations

We firmly believe that with our Western and modern mentality it is very difficult to fully understand the thoughts of those who built theThe sun is shiningand all of Machu Picchu. There are so many constructions and artifacts strange to our understanding that the application of our logic is not enough to understand them, much less when we want to compare them with our current scientific knowledge. However, almost all researchers have taken time to reason and tryexplain, from their own perspective the probable use or explanation that can be given to this enigmatic lithic artifact.

Johan Reinhard, in his book:Machu Picchu, The Sacred Center, 2002, attributes the characteristic of “sacred geography” when relating the orientation of each of the faces of theThe sun is shining with tutelary or sacred mountains that frame and protect Machu Picchu. Thus, theWaynapicchu is to the north; heSalkantay to the south; heWaqaywillka (Verónica) to the east and the mountain range ofPumasillu to West. Reinhard also quotes Rowe who had said that the rock in question may have symbolized “the spirit of the mountain” where it is located.

There are other researchers who believe that this lithic artifact is an altar that served for ritual ceremonies to Inka deities. Its platform, like a table, would serve to place the offerings and the lithic column to support the object of worship. The evidence that could support this statement would be a drawing by Guamán Poma de Ayala that shows an idol placed on a column similar to that of theThe sun is shining and a sacrifice offered by an Inka priest. Maybe a replica of aDay has been the reason for tributes in this place. Nothing is known.

Many other enthusiasts of the spiritualist and esoteric world believe they have found a center in Machu Picchu.geomagnetic of great importance, and they believe that theThe sun is shining It is the ideal place to load up oncosmic or astral energy. Touching the famous rock with your fingers was one of the most popular acts that visitors performed on their visits until before it was protected by a cordon that now does not allow touching the rock.The sun is shining. Without a doubt, we are facing other types of interpretations that move away from the classic explanation ofsolar watch or some other type of astronomical signal or marker.

And to round out the diversity of opinions, one cannot miss a surprising phrase about theThe sun is shining expressed a Spanish architect after visiting Machu Picchu: he was convinced that theThe sun is shining era the most beautiful abstract stone sculpture in the world that he had ever seen in his life.

Finally, it has not been possible to relate to theThe sun is shining with calendars or agricultural cycles because we do not have sufficient information or systematic observation to demonstrate such hypotheses. We do not deny that this artifact has been able to fulfill purposes of which we do not even have an idea, since we have lost a lot of that ancestral knowledge that united astronomy with agriculture, livestock, religion, their philosophy of life and at the same time that generated his own original worldview.

Maybe he The sun is shining of Machu Picchu is keeping some secret that we have not yet been able to discover.

By Professor Erwin Salazar.

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