Researcher Suggests Famous Ancient Inca Monumental Complex Exhibits Astronomical Values

Do the ancient Sacsayhuamán complex walls reveal a sophisticated knowledge of astronomical alignments among the Inca?

Is it just pseudoscience, or something that will stand the test of additional research? 

According to one researcher’s analysis, there was an astronomically-based purpose to the curious yet incredibly precise way the massive stones of the 600-year-old Sacsayhuamán terrace walls were constructed high above and overlooking the ancient Inca capital of Cusco in Peru.  

The massive adjoining blocks of stone that constitute the Sacsayhuamán walls were placed so precisely and tightly together that, in many places, an individual cannot negotiate a piece of paper between them. But equally fascinating are the angles of their adjoining ends or sides. These angles defy, through an apparent randomness, the usual sense of regularity that comes from 90-degree angle ends or corners, characteristic of the vast majority of hewn stones that form the building blocks of ancient and modern structures world-wide. The curious angles formed by these stones, suggests Dr. Derek Cunningham, a published author and researcher, might possibly reflect, or illustrate, the ancient Inca knowledge of astronomical alignments of the moon, sun and the earth, as well as knowledge of lunar and solar eclipses.

Cunningham is not an archaeologist—-he stumbled into this research by accident. In his capacity as a clan historian for Clan Cunningham, he first noted a series of unusual ground patterns located close to some Scottish sites. His curiosity drove him on to look at other sites.

Speaking of the significance of the Sacsayhuamán stone angles, Cunningham continues: “Each astronomical value (there are 9 standard values in total) was chosen by ancient astronomers to aid the prediction of eclipses. These astronomical terms are a mixture of values astronomers use to measure time (the 27.32-day sidereal month) and values to determine when the moon, earth and sun align at nodes. This includes the use of the 18.6-year nodal cycle of the moon, the 6.511 draconic months period between eclipse seasons, and also the 5.1-degree angle of inclination of the moon’s orbit. The remaining values typically are either half-values of various lunar terms, or values connected to the 11-day difference between the lunar and solar years.”

As one example, Cunningham illustrates this idea with three drawings taken from various images, showing striking similarity in the angular values:




Above: One Sacsayhuamán wall example. Drawing courtesy Derek Cunningham




 Second Sacsayhuamán wall example. Drawing courtesy Derek Cunningham 



 Above: View of a portion of the Sacsayhuamán complex. Wikimedia Commons



Above : Overhead drawing view of the Sacsayhuamán complex showing angular values. Drawing courtesy Derek Cunningham


Cunningham suggests that his analysis of the Sacsayhuamán Temple is just one case of Stone Age astronomical ‘writing’, a form of writing that he maintains has been found on a large number of other much older artifacts distributed across several continents. His hypothesis revolves around the thought that our ancient ancestors developed ‘writing’ at least 30,000 years ago from a geometrical form of text that is based on the motion of the moon and the sun. He asserts that such ancient astronomical text, identical to that seen at Sacsayhuamán, is also found in both Lascaux and Chauvet caves in Europe, the African carved Ishango tally bone, and a circa 30,000-year-old carved stone found at the Shuidonggou Paleolithic Site in China.

“Now, substantial evidence has also been discovered that this archaic writing was used, perhaps almost continuously, until 500 years ago,” states Cunningham. “Recently the analysis of the Muisca Tunjo figurines from Columbia uncovered evidence that they were constructed to the exact same astronomical design as Bronze Age figurines uncovered in Cyprus. This discovery of such possible “recent” use of a Stone Age text thus prompted me to take a new look at circa 15th to 16th century Inca architecture, which is famous for its fabulous over-complex interlocking walls. The question I asked was could the massive polygonal walls of Sacsayhuamán align to the exact same astronomical values used in the Columbian Muiscan figurines, and the Atacama Giant of Chile? The surprising result is yes.”

“What is powerful about this new theory is that it is very simple and easy to test,” adds Cunningham. “Further work is of course required. Satellite images cannot clearly take the place of direct field work, and photographs placed online may have become distorted, but so far the data obtained appears highly consistent.” 

But is Cunningham reading things into all of these archaeological finds and structures that are really not there? One can imagine most scholars shaking their heads with a smirk of doubt. But Cunningham seems to be undaunted, and he makes clear that he is not trying to prove anything as gospel truth.

“I honestly do not care whether I am right or wrong about this,” he concludes. “All I have found so far is that the data is what it is. The potential of the idea to explain some things about so many sites from the pyramids of Egypt to the Atacama Giant in Chile is obviously very controversial, and it should be. But if correct, it could rewrite some aspects of our understanding of not only the Stone Age but also world history. If, on the other hand, scholars prove this specific astronomical theory wrong, then we can move on, knowing that it has been sufficiently tested. What is most intriguing is that a complete new window may have been opened into the past.”



 The incredible Sacsayhuamán walls. Hakan Svensson, Wikimedia Commons


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