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What are these carvings in stone that seem to serve no purpose, the steps that go nowhere, the seats so hard to get to?
They are to be found in astonishing abundance in the area around Cusco.
How they were carved is still a mystery. The art is lost, perhaps was lost even before the conquest.
The why is another matter. The answer probably lies in the complex and rigid religion of the Incas. Most of these strange carvings are sacred shrines called Huacas.
There were supposedly 333 huacas in and around Cusco. They were situated along 40 so called "ceque" lines, that radiated like spokes of a wheel from Coricancha, the "Temple of the Sun," in Cusco.
Most of what we have been told about huacas came from the Jesuit Priest Bernabe Cobo, who wrote a hundred years after the conquest. Each of the shrines was attended by a family. Every huaca had prescribed sacrifices to be made on specific days. Most of the sacrifices were not human, but Cobo claimed that 32 of the shrines required human sacrifice, usually of children. This is questioned by many who see in his statistics a rationalization for the conquest, which was, after all , a mission to bring the true religion to the heathens.
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