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  CUSCO´S SURROUNDINGS: THE QENQO AMPHITHEATER

This well-known Inca worship site, another one of the complexes that surround the imperial city, is a temple that dominates the whole area, located 4 km. from the city of Cusco, via the route to Sacsayhuaman on the way to the Antisuyo region.

When the spaniards arrived in the capital of the Tahuantisuyo, they began to categorize buildings and cities according to their European mentality, and K’enko, because of it’s semi-circular construction, was classified as an amphitheater. Actually, no one is truly sure of the purpose of this vast construction, which could be an altar, a court or an Inca’s tomb, maybe Pachacutec’s. It is presumed that it was one of the most important sanctuaries in the empire.
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The original name of this sanctuary is not known. The Quechua word K’enko means labyrinth and was assigned later, while archaeologist Cesar Garcia Rossell claims Quencco means "snail". This worship site is located on what is today called Socorro hill and takes up an area of more than 3,500 square meters.

But the Spanish looters were unable to destroy the intiwatana, the zigzagging duct, the amphitheater and the chamber of the dead.


Intiwatana and the Astronomical Observatory

Two great cylindrical rocks worked with exceptional technique are placed vertically on an flat stand. Everything is carved from one stone block. The use of the Intiwatanas ("where the sun is tied") during the Inca Empire, is still a mystery. It is assumed that it was a type of astonomical observatory used to measure time, to establish the seasons, determine solstices and equinoxes; and as a worship site for the sun, the moon, Venus and the stars.

The Zig Zaging Duct

This is located close to the Intiwatana. Cusco historian Victor Angles describes it in the following way: "...part of a small hole runs along a slanted and twisted line. Later it spreads, one of the branches leads the liquid into an underground chamber or chamber of sacrifice". The liquid could have been the blood of sacrificed beings (animals or humans) to the gods.

The Amphitheater

It is a huge semicircular area 55m. long with 19 incomplete niches distributed along the wall. In some books it is said that the niches were located around the amphitheater as seats, but according to recent investigations, it is possible that they could have been the base of a huge wall. Each one of them would have contained a statue of an entity they worshipped. During Inca times this place was a temple for public ceremonies.

In front of the open space, there is a large stone block 6m. high, which rest over a solid rectangular stand. It is possible this might have been a gigantic sculpture carved with mythical beasts. The traces of destruction caused by the looters are evident during the colony. "It is enough to see the whole to be able to point out that with no doubt, this was worshipped and that religious objects were placed..." historian Victor Angles wrote.

The Chamber of the Dead

The mystery of the Inca culture makes it more attractive. Its religion and the mystery of its cult is one of the aspects on which experts fail to agree. And over the so-called "Chamber of sacrifices", these doubts have not been cleared up. It is an underground chamber, made entirely from one gigantic rock. In the lower portion of the great rock the floor, ceiling, walls, tables, shelves and doors are all carved. It is said that this underground chamber could have been used to embalm the official spies but it is also possible that human and llama sacrifices were held there..

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