THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 12, October, 1928
(Pages 541-550; Size: 31K)
(Number 33 of a 59-part series)
(Compiler's Note: This is the third of four installments)
A LAND OF MYSTERY(3), BY H.P.B.
(Continued from the September Number)
THE ruins of Central America are no less imposing. Massively built, with walls of a great thickness, they are usually marked by broad stairways, leading to the principal entrance. When composed of several stories, each successive story is usually smaller than that below it, giving the structure the appearance of a pyramid of several stages. The front walls, either made of stone or stuccoed, are covered with elaborately carved, symbolical figures; and the interior divided into corridors and dark chambers, with arched ceilings, the roofs supported by overlapping courses of stones, "constituting a pointed arch, corresponding in type with the earliest monuments of the old world." Within several chambers at Palenque, tablets, covered with sculptures and hieroglyphics of fine design and artistic execution, were discovered by Stephens. In Honduras, at Copan, a whole city -- temples, houses and grand monoliths intricately carved -- was unearthed in an old forest by Catherwood and Stephens. The sculpture and general style of Copan are unique, and no such style or even anything approaching it has been found anywhere else, except at Quirigua, and in the islands of Lake Nicaragua. No one can decipher the weird hieroglyphical inscriptions on the altars and monoliths. With the exception of a few works of uncut stone, "to Copan, we may safely assign an antiquity higher than to any of the other monuments of Central America with which we are acquainted," says the New American Cyclopedia. At the period of the Spanish conquest, Copan was already a forgotten ruin, concerning which existed only the vaguest traditions.
No less extraordinary are the remains of the different epochs in Peru. The ruins of the temple of the Sun at Cuzco are yet imposing, notwithstanding that the deprecating hand of the Vandal Spaniard passed heavily over it. If we may believe the narratives of the conquerors themselves, they found it, on their arrival, a kind of a fairy-tale castle. With its enormous circular stone wall completely encompassing the principal temple, chapels and buildings, it is situated in the very heart of the city, and even its remains justly provoke the admiration of the traveller. "Aqueducts opened within the sacred inclosure; and within it were gardens, and walks among shrubs and flowers of gold and silver, made in imitation of the productions of nature. It was attended by 4,000 priests." "The ground," says La Vega, "for 200 paces around the temple, was considered holy, and no one was allowed to pass within this boundary but with naked feet." Besides this great temple, there were 300 other inferior temples at Cuzco. Next to the latter in beauty, was the celebrated temple of Pachacamac. Still another great temple of the Sun is mentioned by Humboldt; and, "at the base of the hill of Cannar was formerly a famous shrine of the Sun, consisting of the universal symbol of that luminary, formed by nature upon the face of a great rock." Roman tells us "that the temples of Peru were built upon high grounds or the top of the hills, and were surrounded by three and four circular embankments of earth, one within the other." Other remains seen by myself -- especially mounds -- are surrounded by two, three, and four circles of stones. Near the town of Cayambe, on the very spot on which Ulloa saw and described an ancient Peruvian temple "perfectly circular in form, and open at the top," there are several such cromlechs. Quoting from an article in the Madras Times of 1876, Mr. J. H. Rivett-Carnac gives, in his Archæological Notes, the following information upon some curious mounds in the neighborhood of Bangalore:--(1) "Near the village there are at least one hundred cromlechs plainly to be seen. These cromlechs are surrounded by circles of stones, some of them with concentric circles three and four deep. One very remarkable in appearance has four circles of large stones around it, and is called by the natives 'Pandavara Gudi' or the temples of the Pandas.... This is supposed to be the first instance, where the natives popularly imagine a structure of this kind to have been the temple of a by-gone, if not of a mythical, race. Many of these structures have a triple circle, some a double, and a few single circles of stone round them." In the 35th degree of latitude, the Arizona Indians in North America have their rude altars to this day, surrounded by precisely such circles, and their sacred spring, discovered by Major Alfred R. Calhoun, F.G.S., of the United States Army Survey Commission, is surrounded with the same symbolical wall of stones, as is found in Stonehenge and elsewhere.
By far the most interesting and full account we have read for a long time upon the Peruvian antiquities is that from the pen of Mr. Heath of Kansas, already mentioned. Condensing the general picture of these remains into the limited space of a few pages in a periodical,(2) he yet manages to present a masterly and vivid picture of the wealth of these remains. More than one speculator has grown rich in a few days through his desecrations of the "huacas." The remains of countless generations of unknown races, who had slept there undisturbed -- who knows for how many ages -- are now left by the sacrilegious treasure-hunter to crumble into dust under the tropical sun. Mr. Heath's conclusions, more startling, perchance, than his discoveries, are worthy of being recorded. We will repeat in brief his descriptions:--
"In the Jeguatepegue valley in Peru in 70° 24' S. Latitude, four miles north of the port of Pacasmayo is the Jeguatepegue river. Near it, beside the southern shore, is an elevated platform 'one-fourth of a mile square and forty feet high, all of adobes or sun-burnt bricks. A wall of fifty feet in width connects it with another;' 150 feet high, 200 feet across the top, and 500 at the base, nearly square. This latter was built in sections of rooms, ten feet square at the base, six feet at the top and about eight feet high. All of this same class of mounds -- temples to worship the sun, or fortresses, as they may be -- have on the northerly side an incline for an entrance. Treasure-seekers have cut into this one about half-way, and it is said 150,000 dollars' worth of gold and silver ornaments were found." Here many thousands of men were buried and beside the skeletons were found in abundance ornaments of gold, silver, copper, coral beads, &c. "On the north side of the river, are the extensive ruins of a walled city, two miles wide by six long.... Follow the river to the mountains. All along you pass ruin after ruin and huaca after huaca" (burial places). At Tolon there is another ruined city. Five miles further, up the river, "there is an isolated boulder of granite, four and six feet in its diameters, covered with hieroglyphics; fourteen miles further, a point of mountain at the junction of two ravines is covered to a height of more than fifty feet with the same class of hieroglyphics -- birds, fishes, snakes, cats, monkeys, men, sun, moon, and many odd and now unintelligible forms. The rock, on which these are cut, is a silicated sandstone, and many of the lines are an eighth of an inch deep. In one large stone there are three holes, twenty to thirty inches deep, six inches in diameter at the orifice and two at the apex.... At Anchi, on the Rimac river, upon the face of a perpendicular wall 200 feet above the river-bed, there are two hieroglyphics, representing an imperfect B and a perfect D. In a crevice below them, near the river, were found buried 25,000 dollars' worth of gold and silver; when the Incas learned of the murder of their chief, what did they do with the gold they were bringing for his ransom? Rumour says they buried it.... May not these markings at Yonan tell something, since they are on the road and near to the Incal city?"
The above was published in November, 1878, when in October, 1877, in my work "Isis Unveiled" (Vol. I. p. 595), I gave a legend, which, for circumstances too long to explain, I hold to be perfectly trustworthy, relating to these same buried treasures for the Inca's ransom, a journal more satirical than polite classed it with the tales of Baron Munchausen. The secret was revealed to me by a Peruvian. At Arica, going from Lima, there stands an enormous rock, which tradition points to as the tomb of the Incas. As the last rays of the setting sun strike the face of the rock, one can see curious hieroglyphics inscribed upon it. These characters form one of the land-marks that show how to get at the immense treasures buried in subterranean corridors. The details are given in "Isis," and I will not repeat them. Strong corroborative evidence is now found in more than one recent scientific work; and the statement may be less pooh-poohed now than it was then. Some miles beyond Yonan, on a ridge of a mountain 700 feet above the river, are the walls of another city. Six and twelve miles further are extensive walls and terraces; seventy-eight miles from the coast, "you zigzag up the mountain side 7,000 feet, then descend 2,000" to arrive at Coxamolca, the city where, unto this day, stands the house in which Atahualpa, the unfortunate Inca, was held prisoner by the treacherous Pizzaro. It is the house which the Inca "promised to fill with gold as high as he could reach, in exchange for his liberty" in 1532; he did fill it with 17,500,000 dollars' worth of gold, and so kept his promise. But Pizzaro, the ancient swineherd of Spain and the worthy acolyte of the priest Hernando de Lugues, murdered him, notwithstanding his pledge of honor. Three miles from this town, "there is a wall of unknown make. Cemented, the cement is harder than stone itself.... At Chepen, there is a mountain with a wall twenty feet high, the summit being almost entirely artificial. Fifty miles south of Pacaomayo, between the seaport of Huanchaco and Truxillo, are the ruins of Chan-Chan, the capital city of the Chimoa kingdom.... The road from the port to the city crosses these ruins, entering by a causeway about four feet from the ground, and leading from one great mass of ruins to another; beneath this is a tunnel." Be they forts, castles, palaces or burial mounds called "huacas," all bear the name "huaca." Hours of wandering on horseback among these ruins give only a confused idea of them, nor can any explorers there point out what were palaces and what were not.... The highest enclosures must have cost an immense amount of labour.
To give an idea of the wealth found in the country by the Spaniards, we copy the following, taken from the records of the municipality in the city of Truxillo by Mr. Heath. It is a copy of the accounts that are found in the book of Fifths of the Treasury in the years 1577 and 1578, of the treasures found in the "Huaca of Toledo" by one man alone.
First.--In Truxillo, Peru, on the 22nd of July 1577, Don Garcia Gutierrez de Toledo presented himself at the royal treasury, to give into the royal chest a-fifth. He brought a bar of gold 19 carats ley and weighing 2,400 Spanish dollars, of which the fifth being 708 dollars, together with 11/2 per cent to the chief assayer, were deposited in the royal box.
Secondly.--On the 12th of December, he presented himself with five bars of gold, 15 and 19 carats ley, weighing 8,918 dollars.
Thirdly.--On the 7th of January 1578, he came with his fifth of large bars and plates of gold, one hundred and fifteen in number, 15 to 20 carats ley, weighing 153,280 dollars.
Fourthly.--On the 8th of March, he brought sixteen bars of gold, 14 to 21 carats ley, weighing 21,118 dollars.
Fifthly.--On the fifth of April, he brought different ornaments of gold, being little belts of gold and patterns of corn-heads and other things, of 14 carats ley, weighing 6,272 dollars.
Sixthly.--On the 20th of April, he brought three small bars of gold, 20 carats ley, weighing 4,170 dollars.
Seventhly.--On the 12th of July, he came with forty-seven bars, 14 to 21 carats ley, weighing 777,312 dollars.
Eighthly.--On the same day he came back with another portion of gold and ornaments of corn-heads and pieces of effigies of animals, weighing 4,704 dollars.
"The sum of these eight bringings amounted to 278,174 gold dollars or Spanish ounces. Multiplied by sixteen gives 4,450,784 silver dollars. Deducting the royal fifth -- 985,953.75 dollars -- left 3,464,830.25 dollars as Toledo's portion! Even after this great haul, effigies of different animals of gold were found from time to time. Mantles, also adorned with square pieces of gold, as well as robes made with feathers of divers colours, were dug up. There is a tradition that in the huaca of Toledo there were two treasures, known as the great and little fish. The smaller only has been found. Between Huacho and Supe, the latter being 12O miles north of Callao, near a point called Atahuangri, there are two enormous mounds, resembling the Campana and San Miguel, of the Huatic Valley, soon to be described. About five miles from Patavilca (south, and near Supe) is a place called 'Paramonga' or the fortress. The ruins of a fortress of great extent are here visible, the walls are of tempered clay, about six feet thick. The principal building stood on an eminence, but the walls were continued to the foot of it, like regular circumvallations; the ascent winding round the hill like a labyrinth, having many angles which probably served as outworks to defend the place. In this neighbourhood, much treasure has been excavated, all of which must have been concealed by the pre-historic Indian, as we have no evidence of the Incas ever having occupied this part of Peru after they had subdued it."
Not far from Ancon, on a circuit of six to eight miles, "on every side you see skulls, legs, arms and whole skeletons lying about in the sand.... At Parmayo, fourteen miles further down north," and on the sea-shore, is another great burying-ground. Thousands of skeletons lie about, thrown out by the treasure-seekers. It has more than half a mile of cutting through it.... It extends up the face of the hill from the sea-shore to the height of about 800 feet.... Whence come these hundreds and thousands of peoples, who are buried at Ancon? Time and time again the archæologist finds himself face to face with such questions, to which he can only shrug his shoulders and say with the natives -- "Quien Sabe?" -- who knows?
Dr. Hutchinson writes, under date of Oct. 30, 1872, in the South Pacific "Times": -- "I am come to the conclusion that Chancay is a great city of the dead, or has been an immense ossuary of Peru; for go where you will, on a mountain top or level plain, or by the sea-side, you meet at every turn skulls and bones of all descriptions."
In the Huatica Valley, which is an extensive ruin, there are seventeen mounds, called "huacas," although, remarks the writer, "they present more the form of fortresses, or castles than burying-ground." A triple wall surrounded the city. These walls are often three yards in thickness and from fifteen to twenty feet high. To the east of these is the enormous mound called Huaca of Pando ... and the great ruins of fortresses, which natives entitle Huaca of the Bell. La compana, the Huacas of Pando, consisting of a series of large and small mounds, and extending over a stretch of ground incalculable without being measured, form a colossal accumulation. The mound "Bell" is 110 feet high. Towards Callao, there is a square plateau (278 yards long and 96 across) having on the top eight gradations of declivity, each from one to two yards lower than its neighbour, and making a total in length and breadth of about 278 yards, according to the calculation of J. B. Steere, of Michigan, Professor of Natural History.
The square plateau first mentioned at the base consists of two divisions ... each measuring a perfect square 47 to 48 yards; the two joining, form the square of 96 yards. Besides this, is another square of 47 to 48 yards. On the top returning again, we find the same symmetry of measurement in the multiples of twelve, nearly all the ruins in this valley being the same, which is a fact for the curious. Was it by accident or design? ... The mound is a truncated pyramidal form, and is calculated to contain a mass of 14,641,820 cubic feet of material.... The "Fortress" is a huge structure, 80 feet high and 150 yards in measurement. Great large square rooms show their outlines on the top but are filled with earth. Who brought this earth here, and with what object was the filling-up accomplished? The work of obliterating all space in these rooms with loose earth must have been almost as great as the construction of the building itself.... Two miles south, we find another similar structure, more spacious and with a greater number of apartments.... It is nearly 170 yards in length, and 168 in breadth, and 98 feet high. The whole of these ruins ... were enclosed by high walls of adobes -- large mud bricks, some from 1 to 2 yards in thickness, length and breadth. The "huaca" of the "Bell" contains about 20,220,84O cubic feet of material, while that of "San Miguel" has 25,650,800. These two buildings with their terraces, parapets and bastions, with a large number of rooms and squares -- are now filled up with earth!
Near "Mire Flores," is Ocheran -- the largest mound in the Huatica valley. It has 95 feet of elevation and a width of 55 yards on the summit, and a total length of 428 yards, or 1,284 feet, another multiple of twelve. It is enclosed by a double wall, 816 yards in length by 700 across, thus enclosing 117 acres. Between Ocharas and the ocean are from 15 to 20 masses of ruins like those already described
The Inca temple of the Sun, like the temple of Cholula on the plains of Mexico, is a sort of vast terraced pyramid of earth. It is from 200 to 300 feet high, and forms a semi-lunar shape that is beyond half a mile in extent. Its top measures about 10 acres square. Many of the walls are washed over with red paint, and are as fresh and bright as when centuries ago it was first put on.... In the Canete valley, opposite the Chincha Guano Islands, are extensive ruins, described by Squier. From the hill called "Hill of Gold," copper and silver pins were taken like those used by ladies to pin their shawls; also tweezers for pulling out the hair of the eyebrows, eyelids and whiskers, as well as silver cups.
"The coast of Peru," says Mr. Heath, "extends from Tumbey to the river Loa, a distance of 1,233 miles. Scattered over this whole extent, there are thousands of ruins besides those just mentioned, while nearly every hill and spire of the mountains have upon them or about them some relic of the past, and in every ravine, from the coast to the central plateau, there are ruins of walls, cities, fortresses, burial-vaults, and miles and miles of terraces and water-courses. Across the plateau and down the eastern slope of the Andes to the home of the wild Indian, and into the unknown impenetrable forest, still you find them. In the mountains, however, where showers of rain and snow with the terrific thunder and lightning are nearly constant, a number of months each year, the ruins are different. Of granite, porphyritic lime and silicated sand-stone, these massive, colossal, cyclopean structures have resisted the disintegration of time, geological transformation, earthquakes, and the sacrilegious destructive hand of the warrior and treasure-seeker. The masonry composing these walls, temples, houses, towers, fortresses, or sepulchres, is uncemented, held in place by the incline of the walls from the perpendicular, and adaptation of each stone to the place destined for it, the stones having from six to many sides, each dressed, and smoothed to fit another or others with such exactness that the blade of a small penknife cannot be inserted in any of the seams thus formed, whether in the central parts entirely hidden, or on the internal or external surfaces. These stones, selected with no reference to uniformity in shape or size, vary from one-half cubic foot to 1,500 cubic feet solid contents, and if in the many, many millions of stones you could find one that would fit in the place of another, it would be purely accidental. In 'Triumph Street,' in the city of Cuzco, in a part of the wall of the ancient house of the Virgins of the Sun, is a very large stone, known as 'the stone of the twelve corners,' since it is joined with those that surround it, by twelve faces, each having a different angle. Besides these twelve faces it has its internal one, and no one knows how many it has on its back that is hidden in the masonry. In the wall in the centre of the Cuzco fortress there are stones 13 feet high, 15 feet long, and 8 feet thick, and all have been quarried miles away. Near this city there is an oblong smooth boulder, 18 feet in its longer axis, and 12 feet in its lesser. On one side are large niches cut out, in which a man can stand and, by swaying his body, cause the stone to rock. These niches apparently were made solely for this purpose. One of the most wonderful and extensive of these works in stone is that called Ollantay-Tambo, a ruin situated 30 miles north of Cuzco, in a narrow ravine on the bank of the river Urubamba. It consists of a fortress constructed on the top of a sloping, craggy eminence. Extending from it to the plain below, is a stony stairway. At the top of the stairway are six large slabs, 12 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 3 feet thick, side by side, having between them and on top narrow strips of stone about 6 inches wide, frames as it were to the slabs, and all being of dressed stone. At the bottom of the hill, part of which was made by hand, and at the foot of the stairs, a stone wall 10 feet wide and 12 feet high extends some distance into the plain. In it are many niches, all facing the south."
The ruins in the Islands in Lake Titicaca, where Incal history begins, have often been described.
At Tiahuanaco, a few miles south of the lake, there are stones in the form of columns, partly dressed, placed in line at certain distances from each other, and having an elevation above the ground of from 18 to 20 feet. In this same line there is a monolithic doorway, now broken, 10 feet high by 13 wide. The space cut out for the door is 7 feet 4 inches high by 3 feet 2 inches wide. The whole face of the stone above the door is engraved. Another similar, but smaller, lies on the ground beside it. These stones are of hard porphyry, and differ geologically from the surrounding rock; hence we infer they must have been brought from elsewhere.
At "Chavin de Huanta," a town in the province of Huari, there are some ruins worthy of note. The entrance to them is by an alleyway, 6 feet wide and 9 feet high, roofed over with sandstone partly dressed, of more than 12 feet in length. On each side there are rooms 12 feet wide, roofed over by large pieces of sandstones, 11/2 feet thick and from 6 to 9 feet wide. The walls of the rooms are 6 feet thick, and have some loopholes in them, probably for ventilation. In the floor of this passage there is a very narrow entrance to a subterranean passage that passes beneath the river to the other side. From this many huacas, stone drinking-vessels, instruments of copper and silver, and a skeleton of an Indian sitting, were taken. The greater part of these ruins were situated over aqueducts. The bridge to these castles is made of three stones of dressed granite, 24 feet long, 2 feet wide by 11/2 thick. Some of the granite stones are covered with hieroglyphics.
At Corralones, 24 miles from Arequipa, there are hieroglyphics engraved on masses of granite, which appear as if painted with chalk. There are figures of men, llamas, circles, parallelograms, letters as an R and an O, and even remains of a system of astronomy.
At Huaytar, in the province of Castro Virreina, there is an edifice with the same engravings.
At Nazca, in the province of Ica, there are some wonderful ruins of aqueducts, four to five feet high and 3 feet wide, very straight, double-walled, of unfinished stone, flagged on top.
At Quelap, not far from Chochapayas, there have lately been examined some extensive works. A wall of dressed stone, 560 feet wide, 3,660 long, and 150 feet high. The lower part is solid. Another wall above this has 600 feet length, 500 width, and the same elevation of 150 feet. There are niches over both walls, three feet long, one-and-a-half wide and thick, containing the remains of those ancient inhabitants, some naked, others enveloped in shawls of cotton of distinct colours and well embroidered....
Following the entrances of the second and highest wall, there are other sepulchres like small ovens, six feet high and twenty-four in circumference; in their base are flags, upon which some cadavers reposed. On the north side there is on the perpendicular rocky side of the mountain, a brick wall, having small windows, 600 feet from the bottom. No reason for this, nor means of approach, can now be found. The skillful construction of utensils of gold and silver that were found here, the ingenuity and solidity of this gigantic work of dressed stone, make it also probably of pre-Incal date.... Estimating five hundred ravines in the 1,200 miles of Peru, and ten miles of terraces of fifty tiers to each ravine which would only be five miles of twenty-five tiers to each side, we have 250,000 miles of stone wall, averaging three to four feet high -- enough to encircle this globe ten times. Surprising as these estimates may seem, I am fully convinced that an actual measurement would more than double them, for these ravines vary from 30 to 100 miles in length. While at San Mateo, a town in the valley of the River Rimac, where the mountains rise to a height of 1,500 or 2,000 feet above the river bed, I counted two hundred tiers, none of which were less than four and many more than six miles long.
"Who then," very pertinently enquires Mr. Heath, "were these people, cutting through sixty miles of granite; transplanting blocks of hard porphyry, of Baalbic dimensions, miles from the place where quarried, across valleys thousands of feet deep, over mountains, along plains, leaving no trace of how or where they carried them; people (said to be) ignorant of the use of wood, with the feeble llama their only beast of burden; who after having brought these stones fitted them into stones with Mosaic precision; terracing thousands of miles of mountain side; building hills of adobe and earth, and huge cities; leaving works in clay, stone, copper, silver, gold, and embroidery, many of which cannot be duplicated at the present age; people apparently vying with Dives in riches, Hercules in strength and energy, and the ant and bee in industry?"
Callao was submerged in 1746, and entirely destroyed. Lima was ruined in 1678; in 1746 only 20 houses out of 3,000 were left standing, while the ancient cities in the Huatica and Lurin valleys still remain in a comparatively good state of preservation. San Miguel de Puiro, founded by Pizzaro in 1531, was entirely destroyed in 1855, while the old ruins near by suffered little. Areguipo was thrown down in August, 1868, but the ruins near show no change. In engineering, at least, the present may learn from the past. We hope to show that it may in most things else.
(To be concluded)
A LAND OF MYSTERY, BY H.P.B.
(This is the last of the four installments)
(Part 34 of a 59-part series)
Back to the
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
THREE (3) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(3) This article was first printed by H. P. Blavatsky in The Theosophist for June, 1880.
Back to text.
(1) On Ancient Sculpturing on Rocks in Kumaon, India, similar to those found on monoliths and rocks in Europe. By J. H. Rivett-Carnac, Bengal Civil Service, C. I. E., F. S. A., M. R. A. S. F. G. S., &c.
Back to text.
(2) See Kansas City Review of Science and Industry, November, 1878.
Back to text.