The most well accepted theory about how the Inca dressed the
stones is that they used hammer stones to shape the blocks. Larger
hammer stones were used to rough the blocks and smaller stones were
used to finish and smooth the blocks. Trial experiments has proven
that this is a viable method for reproducing the work of the Inca
Setting the blocks presents an obvious problem. The stones are
massive with many weighing several tons. Moving and fitting must be
an efficient and simple process to be worthwhile. Many theories
exist about how it was accomplished. Again Vincent Lee has proposed
a reasonable solution that does not rely on space alien
Vincent Lee has proposed a process that is not far from the
method used by log workers to build log cabins. Essentially a stone
must be maneuvered into place above its intended placement. Then the
stone may be scribed with the exact form of the placement below and
lowered into place. Mr. Lee has developed a method for holding the
stones in place above their eventual location. His ideas seem to
work well with the small protuberances and concavities seen at the
base of so many stones. His suggested scribe tool has never been
seen though and any minor refitting would be difficult to perform.
The Sun Temple that was constructed with
huge red porphyry (pink granite) boulders. The stone quarry is named Kachiqhata (Salt Slope) and is located about 4 km (2.5 miles) away
on the other side of the valley, by the upper side of the opposite south-western
mountains. The boulders were carved partially in the
quarries, and taken down to the valley's bottom. In order to cross
the river Quechuas constructed an artificial channel parallel to the
natural river bed that served for deviating the river's water
according to conveniences. Therefore, while that water flowed
through one channel the other was dry, thus stones could be taken to
the other side of the valley. More over, the boulders were
transported to the upper spot where the temple is erected using the
inclined plane that is something like a road which silhouette is
clearly seen from the valley's bottom. They had the help of log
rollers or rolling stones as wheels, South-American cameloids'
leather ropes, levers, pulleys, and the power of hundreds and even
thousands of men. Today, on the way from the quarry to the temple
there are dozens of enormous stones that people know as " tired
stones" because it is believed that they could never be
transported to their destination; those stones are the reason why
some authors claim that the Sun Temple was unfinished when the
Spanish invasion happened.
multi-sided blocks were precisely fitted together in
patterns in order to withstand the disastrous effects of earth
Scientists speculate that the masonry process might
have worked like this: after carving the desired shape out of the
first boulder and fitting it in place, the masons would somehow
suspend the second boulder on scaffolding next to the first one.
They would then have to trace out a pattern on the second boulder in
order to plan the appropriate jigsaw shape that would fit the two
together. In order to make a precise copy of the first boulder's
edges, the masons might have used a straight stick with a hanging plum-bob
to trace its edges and mark off exact points for carving on the
second boulder. After tracing out the pattern, they would sculpt the
stone into shape, pounding it with hand-sized stones to get the
general shape before using finger-size stones for precision sanding.
Admittedly, this entire technique is merely scientific speculation.
The method might have worked in practice but that doesn't mean this
is how the ancient Quechua stonemasons did it.
"How were such titanic blocks of stone brought to the top of
the mountain from the quarries many miles away? How were they cut
and fitted? How were they raised and put in place? Now one knows, no
one can even guess. There are archaeologists, scientists, who would
have us believe that the dense, hard andesite rock was cut, surfaced
and faced by means of stone or bronze tools. Such an explanation is
so utterly preposterous that it is not even worthy of serious
consideration. No one ever has found anywhere any stone tool or
implement that would cut or chip the andesite, and no bronze ever
made will make any impression upon it."
A. Hyatt & Ruth Verrill ----America's Ancient Civilizations
Jean-Pierre Protzen thinks the Verrills was wrong. He went to Cuzco
and showed how river rocks could be used as hammers to pound stones
into the desired shape.
"It appears that the Inca technique of fitting the blocks
together was based largely on trial and error. It is a laborious
method, particularly if one considers the size of some of the huge
stones at Sacsahuaman or Ollantaytambo. What should be kept in mind,
however, is that time and labour power were probably of little
concern to the Incas, who did not have a European notion of time and
had plenty of tribute labour from conquered peoples at their
Jean-Pierre Protzen ---Scientific American ---Feb. 1986
monolith carved with stone tools?
Eric Von Daniken, in his series of books beginning with Chariots
of the Gods theorized that the Andean stone-works were build by
Alien/Gods who visited the earth long ago, bringing civilization to primitive
man. The scientific community simply snickered.
Whatever one thinks of his theories, he brought to the public an
awareness of the many ancient monuments on earth that seem to defy
Everybody who has traveled to Egypt, Mesopotamia, South America
and many ancient places has seen it: the astonishing craftsmanship
of these ancient stoneworkers. The precision fit of large stone blocks
is eminent in both the Old and New World. It is hardly imaginable,
that all of this should have been done by pure manual work alone.
This very interesting link, Ancient
Stone Technology, also includes theories of Professor
Davidovits from the Geopolymer Institute in France.
In short, his theory is that the 2 million blocks of limestone that
make up the core of the pyramid of Chufu (Cheops), have not been cut
into shape, but the limestone was solved in water, brought to the
building place in small portions and then the blocks were cast in
situ. Even more interesting are his ideas on the precision-fit
Inca walls: He puts forward a technique to soften the stone by use
of acid plant extracts!
Another interesting website is STONE
TECHNOLOGY. The ancient Egyptians were masters in working with
stone. These pages document photographic evidence, historical
research and contemporary debates on stone technology. Topics
include predynastic stonewares, straight saws, circular saws, tube
drilling and lathes - Photos, Research Papers and Newsgroup Debate
Construction Theories: Part 2
Ancient Mystery: Perfect fitting, vitrified and moulded rocks
Many rocks have a strange look in Cusco and surroundings. As if
they once were soft and have been moulded to give them form. They
have a finish that gives them a look as a mirror, with a strong
reflection, a shine, sometimes like metal or glass. Omnipresent in
all vestiges, but only seen in two of the three construction
styles. In the latest construction style, according to Alfredo
Gamarra belonging to the Inca's, no vitrification is observed, but
only stones treated with hammer and chisel, giving as a result
walls in which the stones do not fit perfectly.
Part 2 >>