Exploring Inca ushnu sites

Project team

  • Nick Branch, Senior Lecturer in Palaeoecology, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading (01/01/2007 - 26/02/2010) 
  • Francisco Ferreira, PhD student, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway
    University of London (01/01/2007 - 01/01/2010)
  • Millena Frouin, Post doctoral research assistant, Department of Geography,
    Royal Holloway University of London (19/03/2007 - 28/02/2009)
  • Rob Kemp, Professor, Physical Geography, Department of Geography,
    Royal Holloway University of London (01/01/2007 - 26/02/2010)
  • Colin McEwan, Head of the Americas section and curator of Latin American collections, Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, British Museum, London (01/01/2007 - 26/02/2010)
  • Frank Meddens, Honorary Research Associate, Department of Geography,
    Royal Holloway University of London (01/01/2007 - 26/02/2010)
  • Gabriel Ramon, Post-doctoral research assistant, British Museum, London
    (01/04/2008 - 26/02/2010)
  • Cirilo Vivanco, Professor of Archaeology, National University of San Cristóbal of Huamanga, Peru
  • Katie Willis, Reader, Development Geography, Department of Geography,
    Royal Holloway University of London (01/01/2007 - 26/02/2010)

Partners

  • University of Reading
  • Royal Holloway University of London
  • Universidad Nacional de San Cristobal de Huamanga

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council

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Atahualpa, the Inca ruler taken and killed by Spanish invaders in the 1500s, asked for the meeting with his murderers to take place in the great plaza of the town of Cajamarca at the site of a ‘castillejo’, a type of platform we now call an ushnu.

This shows not only that ushnus were appropriate sites to meet strangers, but that they were considered to hold great significance.

Research at 30 platforms across the modern
area of Ayacucho has demonstrated that ushnus are located in both town squares and alongside Inca roads. In towns the platforms are located in or by the side of the main square, while those located on Inca roads are often found on mountain tops. There, they offer views of the horizon and of Wamanis (mountain deities) in the landscape.


Featured ushnu sites

Condormarca

Thought to be named after the now damaged condor carved into a nearby rock face and located in the village of Huamanguilla.

More about this site 

Incapirca Waminan

Located on a rounded mountaintop near Ayacucho and offering a remarkable views of major mountain peaks.

More about this site 

Kunuquarqo

Stone channels on the side of this ushnu connect it to the ritual of pouring drinks as an offering to God.

More about this site 

Mesapata

A platform of between two and four levels featuring finely carved stonework comprised of grey andesite.

More about this site 

Uscunta

Items found nearby include pottery, tools and stone balls believed to have been used in an organised game.

More about this site 

Ushnupata

A Late Horizon-era Inca structure located on a low hill near to a community cemetery.

More about this site 

 

A well-known site on the main
Inca road running along the Andes
mountain chain and down to the coast.

More about this site 


Site

Alternative name(s)

Easting

Northing

Altitude (m)

Altarniyoc

 

574886.594

8508713.489

4319

Anahuarque

 

613294

8483654

4201

Aquqasa

Mesayuqpata;Misapata

587681

8472616

4331

Condormarca

 

590273.221

8561137.921

3227

Huamanillo

 

586623

8460975

4487

Illakata

Ilakata

570539

8382012

4350

Incapaq Misan

 

573967

8498938

3952

Incapirca 1

Incapirca de Chiara

599684.531

8522349.729

4370

Incapirca 2

Incapirca de Quina

600057.568

8557958.119

4398

Incapirca 3

Usnupatapampa

589388

8527080

4251

Incaqcuna

 

574185

8498776

3977

Inkapallanka

Uchuy Quriwayrachina

605589

8394507

4580

Inkapirka

Inkapirqa; Wamanpirqa

643680

8384264

4485

Kunukaurqu

Intiwatana (1); Conoca Urqu

591794

8448018

4674

Laymi

 

652908

8435472

3406

Mesapata

Qatun Mesapata

589515

8425656

4489

Mesapata Chico

 

589437

8422552

4568

Mesapatachayoq

 

615608

8383668

4498

Mesapatapampa

 

595742

8393221

4350

Quinoawillka

 

559121

8552710

3953

Quriwayrachina

Qatun Quriwayrachina

604602

8395612

4573

Totospmapa

 

553566

8496503

2950

Ushnupata

 

581170.967

8518207.129

3695

Usnu 3

 

589050

8407852

4384

Usqunta 1

Intiwatana 2

588117

8418976

4364

Usqunta 2

Intiwatana 3

588375

8418522

4368

Vilcashuaman

 

613063

8490462

3499

Wamanillo

Wamanillu

585443

8428111

4350

Wamanpirca

 

633218

8373310

4865

Warmichayuq

 

600861

8455536

4403