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Choquequirao

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The archaelogical area of Choquequirao is a cultural and natural complex located in the valley and cordillera of Vilcabamba. It is part of a system of Andean cities and segments that includes Ñusta Hispana, vitcos, Espiritu pampa, Concebidayoq, Pampaconas and Habas pampa. These were all linked by a network or roads / phats which eventually connect with the historical sanctuary of Machu Picchu. The information in this document is but preliminary; investigations carried out by the specialized personnel of plan COPESCO continue.

 

LOCATION:

Choquequirao comprises areas of the provinces of Cusco and Apurimac and is situated at 3104.09 metres above sea level, in the foothills of the Salkantay mountain range, surrounded by the snowy apus of Ccoriwayrachina, Ampay, Choquetacarpu, Pumasillo and Panta, this "Cultural-Natural" complex spans districts of Santa Teresa and Vilcabamba in the "La Convencion" province in the departament of Cusco, as well as the districts of Cachora and Huanipaca in the Abancay province in the Apurimac department, in this wall it occupies both the left and right hand sides of the river Apurimac's Canyon.

 

CLIMATE AND SOIL:

In geomorphic terms, the region is typified by "juvenile" inter-andean valleys interspersed with drepth canyons, that vary in depth from 1300m to 5000 metres above sea level, formed by the Apurimac river and its tributaries. Vertical erosion on its margins formed terraces exploited by the andean man for cultivation and small rural settlements.

The complex, situated at a subalpine level, has characteristics of both rainforest and subtropical andean country. Its average annual temperature is 12c, the sky in often clouded over, though there are sunny days with cold nights owing to the proximity of snow topped mountains the area has two markedly district seasons; the "rainy season" from december to march and the "dry season" from april to november.

 

FLORA AND FAUNA:

Preliminary reports suggest a particular nature in between the skirts of the snowy hills where water works its way through the earth, generating an abundance of vegetation with cedar, "lambram", "Chachacomo", and "Inkallaulli" trees amongst others. In the shade of the above grow various species of medicinal plants, ferns, and other interesting plant species like orchids and bromelias. The exuberant vegetation and climatic conditions allow for a varied fauna including deer "Anteojos" bears felines, raptors and foxes as well as a spectacular birds like the andean condor, whose flight beautifies the quite afternoons, and the many species of humming birds.

 

THE PRINCIPAL AREA:

Choquequirao is an inka settlement composed of dispersed sites, built of stone masonry together, they constitute a complex "urbe" similar to other inka edifices, that runs from the crest to the skirts of the hill of the same name. A panoramic vision of the area would suggest the following divisions:

 

HANAN (UPPER PLAZA):

This occupies the upper part on the east side and is defined by the double levelled hanan temple, next to which is the main entrance channel for water destined for domestic, ceremonial and agricultural use. This flow through a vertical channel and two springs or "paqchas" can be seen which run alongside the terraces and descend to the Qolqas sector and the main plaza. The west side is marked by a wall of average height. The south side is marked by a Kallanka (with only one access route) just below there is a ceremonial patio with two small areas on one level, separated by one small passageway.

 

QOLQAS (DEPOSITS):

This is composed five building. Two are larger size, having two levels, each with a platform make up of stone slabs and clayish mud, with ventilation ducts in the base. The other three have an extend rectangular shape and only one level. The adjacent constructions correspond to 16 terraces uses for "ceremonial" cultivation. They are delineated by parallel, stepped walls with vaulted niches in each platform. In the first and last containing walls there are remains of a canal which introduced water into the main channel.

 

HAUQAYPATA (MAIN SQUARE):

The open space and building are constructed on a platform containing two springs (paqchas). The principal temple is the one level Kallanka with four access routes; on the inside there are low vaulted niches, surrounded by boxes that still contain rings for supporting to the governors, of symmetrical design which might have had defined patios giving on to an open passageway, after passing through a door located in the square.

The plaza also contains a Kallanka of larger dimensions than the city which correspond to sunturwasi.

This has six access points oriented towards the south and this was designed for multiple and collective use.

The south eastern corresponds to a containing wall for the plaza's platform. In the posterior part of the sector small areas and patios are seen which might have been uses by goldsmiths.

 

URIN (PLAZA INFERIOR):

Continuing from Huacaypata, through slightly higher, than outstanding construction correspond to an "open access" temple, formed by four vaulted niches. These in the upper part, had a second level, accessible from the posterior part where the Kanchas were located for the breeding and posible sacrifice of camelids.

 

USHNO (CEREMONIAL PLATFORM):

One enters through the door found on one side of the urin temple entering the platform by a stairway which ends in the only access correspond to a small hill modified, flattened and surrounded by a somewhat circular perimeter wall.

 

PRIEST DWELLING:

These are located in the lower part, to the east of ushno hill, and relate to the urban kancha model, composed of two rooms on two floors, placed opposite each other, backed up by a perimeter wall with an access door on the east side, from where a path leaves before becoming lost in the forest. In the upper of the north side there are four broken down containing walls defining platforms of the same shape.

 

CHAQRA ANDEN (CULTIVATION TERRACES EAST SIDE):

These begin in the east side. This sector hast the widest platforms constructed on three levels these are divided by wide stairways and have stone slabs at the foot of each lower terrace. It appears that two terraces in this sector were still under construction and that there were four platform semi-detached from the roadway walls.

 

OTHER CONTIGOUS SECTORS:

Chaqra Anden (cultivation terraces on the western side): These are found on the western side of Huacaypata and are formed by 150 narrow platforms grouped into two colums with channels for water conduction, stairs between each column and water sources.

One of the ramifications which can be found in the second water sourced in Hauqaypata orients towards the part of these terraces. 

 

PIKIWASI (POPULAR DWELLINGS):

Groups of dwellings cuadrilateral and circular areas and kallankas with placements, narrow streets, parallel passageways, from which leave short stairways.

One of the secondary paths leads towards the main square on the north east sid, through a narrow platform.


PHAQCHA WAYQ´O (CULTIVATION TERRACES):

Formed by more than 80 narrow terraces with water channels, distributed in six columns, destined for usage in cultivation. In the central part of the terraces is the dwelling of the arariwa or Chaqra Kamayoq, who was in the charge of cultivation. This is mode up of an area with ceremonial ends. Water sources and dwellings. Along the top of the wall of these constructions there are corniced stone slabs.

 

PARAQTE PATA (CULTIVATION TERRACES):

These are 18 terraces distributed in three columns, with continuous interlinking stairways.

There are water channels coming from a spring located in the center.

 

PINCHA UNUYOC (CULTIVATION TERRACES):

These are found approximately 7.6 kms from Haucaypata and are 57 in number. The principal area revolves around the collection of water for irrigational use. The exteriors of the containing wall are similar to the "Chachapoyas" style, still preserved in the wall headings and flying stairways.

In the middle sector of the upper wall, where the largest terraces are found, there are remants of a temple dwellings and water holding constructions.

 

HATUN YARQHA (MAIN CHANNEL):

The administering of the water in Choquequirao involved the channeling of water from the small river Chunchumayo. The containing walls through which the water was conducted are located at the food of the rocks that end in the higher part of the hanan, these waters had ceremonial and domestic uses, ending up in the Huacaypata channel and arriving in the cultivation terraces, these is also evidence that the channel led towards the Pikiwasi sector.

 

DWELLING:

In the still uninvestigated spaces convered by exuberant vegetation, between the Qolqas and Huacaypata, these is evidence of rectangular, cuadrilateral and circular precincts associated with tombs located under the rocks. The isolated containing walls support small landing style platform. Equally on the southeastern slope of the hill different platforms can be observed.

These are called urban Kanchas. There are "Cyclopic" multi-poligonal walls relating to the capture and depositing of the water for domestic and irrigational use.

Towards the east side, in the high part of the Chunchumayo rives is the Sanchupata area, in which there are preserved a two level longitudinal precinct, two continuous rectangular precincts and various cultivation terraces. On the south-eastern slopes of the priestly dwellings there are small precincts and terraces of simple design.

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