Saksaywaman & Inca Architecture

Posted: March 3, 2014 by Maverick in Archaeology
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Saksaywaman or “Falcon” is a walled complex on the northern outskirts of the city of Cuzco. Like many Inca constructions, the complex is made of large polished dry stone walls, with boulders carefully cut to fit together tightly without mortar.


The best-known zone of Saksaywaman includes its great plaza and its adjacent three massive terrace walls. The stones used in the construction of these terraces are among the largest used in any building in prehispanic America and display a precision of fitting that is unmatched in the Americas. The stones are so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco. The longest of three walls is about 400 meters. They are about 6 meters tall. The estimated volume of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters. Estimates for the weight of the largest Andesite block vary from 128 tons to almost 200 tons!


Clearly, the people involved in constructing Saksaywaman & Ollantaytambo possessed knowledge and a technology far superior to what is generally imagined. Civilizations do not always move in a forward direction; sometimes it regresses. And indeed, most of the time, both advanced and primitive civilizations are able to exist simultaneously in different parts of the world.



The Incan culture who constructed these megaliths possessed an advanced civilization. The structures they produced show that they had a wide-ranging knowledge of mathematics and geometry; that they knew the technology needed to build monuments by calculating fixed points in hilly areas; that they used equipment (such as the compass) to determine geographical positions, and that when necessary, they could transport the materials needed for construction from many miles away. Obviously, they could not manage all this by using only primitive tools. Indeed, many experiments by researchers and archaeologists have demonstrated that it would have been impossible to construct these monuments under the conditions proposed by the theory of evolution. Researchers who have attempted to construct similar monuments by reproducing the imaginary “Stone Age” conditions postulated by evolutionists have failed dismally. These researchers have not only found it difficult to construct any similar structure, but have also experienced enormous difficulties in transporting these stones from one place to another. This shows yet again that people of that era did not lead primitive lives, as evolutionists would have us believe. They understood architecture, made expert use of construction technology and engaged in astronomical investigations. On the basis of these megaliths, therefore, it is impracticable to make interpretations about the daily lives of societies of that time. Their social relationships, beliefs, tastes and artistic understanding cannot be deduced with any measure of certainty.

Incan stonemasonry was all done more or less the same way so I’ll use Saksaywaman as an example. The stones were then dragged by rope to the construction site, a feat that required hundreds of men. The ropes were so impressive that they warranted mention by Diego de Trujillo [1571] as he inspected a room filled with building materials. The stones were then shaped into their final form at the building site and then laid in place.

The work, while supervised by Inca architects, was largely carried out by groups of individuals fulfilling their labor obligations to the state. In this system of mita or “turn” labor, each village or group provided a certain number of individuals to participate in public works projects. Although multiple regions might provide labor for a single, large-scale state project, the ethnic composition of the work-gangs remained intact, as different groups were assigned different tasks. Cieza de León who visited Saksaywaman two times in the late 1540s, mentions the quarrying of the stones, their transposition to the site, and the digging of foundation trenches. All this was conducted by rotational labor under the close supervision of Imperial architects.

Protzen, a professor of architecture, has shown how the Inca built long and complex ramps within the stone quarries near Ollantaytambo and how additional ramps were built to drag the blocks to the construction above the village. I personally saw the ramp leading up to the Temple of the Sun at Ollantaytambo. He suggests that similar ramps would have been built at Sacsayhuaman.

In regard to Incan buildings, Ancient Aliens focuses most of its attention on the curved or beveled edges of the stones. They say that it looks like the edges of these stones were melted. Notice as we listen to them build the case for this that the reason they believe this is true, is based entirely on the way the stones look.

Ancient Aliens: “There are signs in many of these stones that show very large amounts of thermal heat have been applied to mould the stones in such a way that they apply perfectly, so it really does raise a lot of questions.”

AA: “If you look at the style the Saxoman Wall was built, the blocks look as if they’ve been molded into putty. If you can mould stone into place then all of a sudden, as crazy as [it] sounds it makes more sense.”

Now melting granite or any other stone and reshaping it would leave unmistakable evidence in and on the stones themselves. In other words, if the rocks were melted, it would be easily provable, it would not be a matter of what the stones look like, it would be a simple yes or no question.

Ancient Aliens skips this step of proving or disproving their theory, instead they assume that the rocks were melted based on the look of the stones and move to the step of trying to figure out who would have had the technology to melt stones.

AA: “I have a stone torch that I use for sometimes shaping stone granite and it generates a temperature in excess of 3,000 degrees. That’s a lot.”

AA: “When we look back at the ancients and we see a technology that they couldn’t possibly know, there’s only two possibilities: either God did it, which we don’t think happened, or some high-tech civilization from another planet came and showed them how to do it, then took their materials and tools and went back home.”

I think there is at least one more possibility that Mr. Dunn may have missed.

Every shaped stone at any Incan site has what archeologists call “pit marks” or “pit scars”. They occur when stone hammers are used to quarry and shape the stone.

In addition archeologist have found a huge amount of Incan stone hammers at the quarries, and almost uniquely to the Incans, they are found at the building sites too, because the Incans only rough cut the stones at the quarries they did the finish work on site so the stones would perfectly fit with the stones around it.

Well how did the Incans accomplish these beveled edges? They used a smaller gauge stone hammer for the outer section. The evidence for this can be seen on every single stone that has these edges.

You can see that the pit scars are much more numerous and smaller on the edges, showing that more blows with a smaller stone was used to achieve the detail work.

Another reason this is no mystery to archeologists is because there are a large number of stones in various stages of construction in the ancient Incan quarries. These stones reveal that indeed the Incan stone masons were using some of the most basic tools, even for their time.

If you want to learn more about the details I will link you to some peer reviewed papers that can tell you more than you’d ever want to know. Including details of experiments done. For example a single scientist in 90 minutes accomplished similar cuts with similar tools. [Jean Pierre Protzen, “Inca Quarrying and Stone Cutting,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 44, No. 2 (May, 1985), pp. 161-182]

All this makes what Mike Dunn says here one of the most off the wall things ever said in the Ancient Aliens series:

AA: “I can’t help but think that whoever was behind this thought the process through from beginning to end. They didn’t quarry the rock and then decide how the heck [they] were going to transport [it]. They knew, from beginning to end, what needed to be done with whatever techniques and technology they were going to use. In industry today there is kind of an adage: ‘keep it simple, stupid.’”

AA: “Based on his experience, Mike Dunn believes the simplest way to build the great walls of Machu Pichu would have been to transport small rocks to the site then melt them and use molds to fashion the exact size and shapes needed.”

So he says it’s simpler to melt the rocks – something so complicated that we don’t know how to do it. Is that really the simplest solution he could come up with?

And then to say that they poured the melted rocks into a mold? I mean look at these walls! Can anyone look at this and say “yeah that looks like they were made from the same mold?” These are not exactly bricks of the same size and shape. Unless he wants to say that they made a new mold for every block, in which case we would go well out of the range of this being the simplest solution.

As far as how the Incans moved the stones into place, they left us a lot of evidence behind in the form of ramps. There are Incan ramps all over the place still in existence today, in the quarries and at the building sites.

The Incans had one of the most massive work forces in the all the ancient world. They were like the Roman empire of the west, and they had an absolutely huge labor force at the ready for these types of projects.

So we know these rocks were not melted and put in molds as Ancient Aliens tells us. We actually know exactly how they made these rounded edges, because of the pit marks left behind as well as the huge number of stone hammers found in the quarries. There are no mysteries that require alien input with Incan stone work.


  1. Cam Davis says:

    I recently saw a show about Easter Island where they demonstrated that very large stones can be moved quickly by rocking them back and forth, people pulling with ropes on either side. I would guess the same method may have been used by Incas in moving very large stones.

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