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By Bob Djurdjevic

19 Jul 2011

Updated Feb 14, 2011

Inca "Ancestor Stones" Unearthed

Amazing historical find in Peru by British archeologists

FROM HAIKU, MAUI (HAWAII)

Inca "Ancestor Stones" Unearthed

Sensational Archeological Find in Peru

HAIKU, Maui, Feb 14 - A friend of mine from Austin, Texas, sent me a while a go a story about a sensational archeological find that a group of British archeologists made in Peru.   Here's an excerpt (you will find a link to the full story at the bottom of it).  I have also marked the location of Incapirca Waminan on the map of Peru (right).

A British team of archaeologists on expedition in the Peruvian Andes has hailed as "sensational" the discovery of some of the most sacred objects in the Inca civilization – three "ancestor stones", which were once believed to form a precious link between the heavens and the underworld.

Dr Frank Meddens, research associate of Royal Holloway, said they had "danced a little jig on top of the mountain" after discovering the objects that they had only read about in 16th-century Spanish documents.

The find, which was made on an isolated Andean mountainside, provoked joy among local specialists and the experts present from, among others, the British Museum, Reading University and Royal Holloway, University of London. No examples of the stones were thought to have survived until now.

"It was a very moving moment," said Dr Colin McEwan, the British Museum's head of the Americas, as he recalled seeing the stones for the first time.

The Incas would have been just as overawed. The conical-shaped stones were among the most significant items in Inca society and religion. Key elements in ritual events, they were thought to facilitate a connection between different realms of the world – the celestial and the underworld of the ancestors – with the Inca king, as the divine ruler, acting as intermediary. And they were considered more precious than gold.

"This is a whole new category of object. It is nothing short of sensational," said McEwan of the three stones in red and white Andesite, a hard, granite-like rock, which were excavated some 2.5 metres beneath an Inca stone platform. The platform too was recently excavated and is a structure of distinctive stonework that once symbolised the imperial control of conquered territories.

The site – at Incapirca Waminan – is one of 20 undocumented high-altitude Inca ceremonial platforms explored by the archaeologists around the Ayacucho basin. Such sites were potent imperial symbols of religious and political authority as the Incas expanded outwards from Cuzco, a sacred city of temples and palaces in the central Peruvian Andes.

Ancestor stones represented deities, ancestors and the sun, and were imbued with supreme symbolic significance. They were greeted with incomprehension by Spanish chroniclers of the early 16th century, who sacrilegiously likened their shape to sugar loaves, pineapples and bowling pins. The insult, however, was returned: when the 16th-century Inca ruler Atahualpa was shown a copy of the Bible by the Conquistadors, he reacted with similar contempt.

According to Spanish sources, the stones were used in public solar rituals, sometimes draped in gold cloth and paraded. One witness wrote: "The stones… were held to be blessed and sacred."

Symbols of the ancestral essence of the Inca king, the objects were placed on display when the supreme leader was absent from Cuzco, the capital of the Inca people, in an attempt to demonstrate the perpetual presence and his power. The Incas believed their king to be a living god who ruled by divine right.

For a full story, click on... Incapirca Waminan, Ayacucho: arqueologos ingleses descubren tres "piedras de los ancestros" Inca

You can also read more about these stones at Incapirca Waminan, Ayacucho (British Museum).

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