Exploring Inca ushnu sites
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
Thought to be named after the now damaged condor carved into a nearby rock face and located in the village of Huamanguilla
Located on a rounded mountaintop near Ayacucho and offering a remarkable views of major mountain peaks
A platform of between two and four levels featuring finely carved stonework comprised of grey andesite
Items found nearby include pottery, tools and stone balls believed to have been used in an organised game
A well-known site on the main
Inca road running along the Andes
mountain chain and down to the coast
|Site||Alternative name(s)||Easting||Northing||Altitude (m)|
|Incapirca 1||Incapirca de Chiara||599684.531||8522349.729||4370|
|Incapirca 2||Incapirca de Quina||600057.568||8557958.119||4398|
|Kunukaurqu||Intiwatana (1); Conoca Urqu||591794||8448018||4674|
|Usqunta 1||Intiwatana 2||588117||8418976||4364|
|Usqunta 2||Intiwatana 3||588375||8418522||4368|