El Fuerte de Samaipata
El Fuerte de Samaipata is a form of gigantic rock art full of religious symbolism, made by prehispanic cultures. The site consists of a rock shaped with ceremonial carvings. The natural sandstone hill measures 200x600m, and is completely sculpted with felines, snakes, birds and geometrical motifs with a magical and religious character.
Below it lies a former provincial capital of the Inca, including a central plaza, public buildings, houses and agricultural terraces. The site dates mainly from the 14th -16th centuries when the Inca gave it its monumental character, though the location was already used by other (Amazonic) cultures. Only a link with the Mojocoya (ca. 300 AD) has been established so far.
The site was known and used for its strategic location by the Inca and the Spanish, hence its name “El Fuerte” (The Fortress). At 1920m above sea level in the sub-Andean, it was an intermediairy stopping point between the Andean highlands and the lower areas.
There have been various alternative explanations about the use of the site, varying from a place for washing gold to a take off- and landing ramp for ancient spacecraft.
Visit May 2011
How often have you had a WHS all to yourself? I can think of only a few times when it has happened to me (the last time was in Fontainebleau, of all places). Well, on the Tuesday morning that I arrived on foot at the entrance of El Fuerte, I was the first to sign the visitor book for the day. It was 10.15 by then already. The days before hadn’t brought many visitors either: about 5-10 a day on average. The friendly lady in charge, who had seen me walking up from afar, sold me a ticket for 50 bolivianos (5 EUR), gave me a map and sent me off on the predescribed circuit of the site.
The track is 2km long, and involves quite some climbing until you get to the very top of the hill. There they’ve made two viewing platforms where you can admire the sculptures from above. It’s really a weird slab of rock. I can see why imaginative researchers have come up with the hypothesis that the rock was used as a kind of airfield. It looks just like that little take off- and landing strip at Lukla in Nepal! Just a short stretch of flat road before diving off into an unsure flight amidst the mountains.
The map that is included with the entrance ticket shows the position of the most prominent sculptures, a bit like the map they give you in Nazca. The motifs here are even more difficult to distinguish than those at the Nazca Lines - a lot of the rock sculptures have eroded. The two felines I really could not see. The channels and the geometric pools are the most clear ones.
The track then leads you down to the former Inca town. Not much more is left of it than walls of groups of buildings. It gets more interesting at the end again, where you’re allowed close to the rock to observe the Five Niches, an Inca temple cut out of the rock.
There may be not a lot left to see here, but the visit in general was very worthwhile. That’s mostly because of the wonderful natural surroundings of the site. It is located in the Amboro National Park, with great mountain vistas and abundant birdlife. I think I even spotted a Condor (I saw one bird with a giant wingspan). I walked both ways to and from the site from Samaipata, 10km each way, which I can really recommend when you want to enjoy the natural beauty of this place. The site itself is well-cared for, even with so few visitors. There’s a kiosk to buy drinks and snacks, and the circuit is partly made out of boardwalks.
|Gilbert de Jong (The Netherlands):|
I now belief the marker on El Fuerte de Samaipata (El Cascabel) is marking the parallel heliacal rise of our brightest planets Venus and Jupiter on August 20 in the year 1066 AD instead of the parallel heliacal rise of Regulus and a planet.
These two planets, as two bright celestial eyes, could be seen almost always in a year of Halley's Comet return.
| Date posted: August 2011|
|G.J. de Jong (Netherlands):|
For nearly ten years I have studied the features of El Fuerte, especially El Cascabel, and I have discovered that:
- The old name of El Fuerte (Samaipata, Bolivia) is not lost as many historians believe. It is misunderstood because the name of El Fuerte is very wellknown: Huanacauri ('rainbow'). After the Qorikancha (Coricancha) in Cuzco the second most important shrine of the Inca's.
(from: the Incas, Terence N. D'Altroy, 2002:51):
"Their meandering journey eventually led the company to the top of a mountain beyond which they could see a fruitfull valley graced by a rainbow- a manifest sign of their long-sought homeland. Before they could descend the slopes, however brother Ayar Uchu was transformed into a stone. (Both the stone and the mountain became known as Huanacauri and were revered as shrines of surpassing sanctity.) At Managua, Mama Waqo- some said Manqo Qhapaq (Manco Ccapac)called hist brother Ayar Awka to him and said, "Brother! Do you remember that we agreed that you would take possession of the land we would inhabit? Now then, look at that rock! Fly over there (for they said he had been born with wings), sit down on it, and claim the seat where the marker is, because we are going to occupy it and live [here]!" (Sarmiento 1960:217)
On p. 163 (The Inca's by Terence d'Altroy)we can read: "the name Huanacauri was applied repeatedly to locations around Cuzco and to important peaks in the empire, as the Incas imprinted their mythical past on an expanded domain (Van de Guchte 1990:53-4).
In fact there were more than one 'Huanacauri's'. But El Fuerte deserves the title of the second important shrine in the Inca empire because it has a marker (see next) which can be dated and it is, indeed, Pre-Inca.
- the two parallel shafts of El Cascabel mark the parallel rising of Regulus and Venus on august 17 of the year 1066 AD. It is a very special year because in this year the soul of a mythical king could be watched in the morning and/or evening sky. Many cultures around the world believed that the tail of a comet marked the death of a king. Every about 76-79 years Halley's comet passes by and it sure did in march of the year 1066 AD. It could easily been seen by the naked eye and it freightened millions of people around the world. Because of the viewing direction of El Cascabel (71 degrees) and precession we know that Regulus must have been visible between 1000 BC and 1100 BC. But not al the dates show a parallel rise of Venus and Regulus in the viewing direction of 71 degrees. There was only one appearance of Halley's comet and in the same year the parallel rising of Venus and Regulus could be watched.
So it is my believe that El Fuerte, and especially El Cascabel, is a tribute to the bright appearance of a mythical king (Halley's comet) in 1066 AD. The pre-Inca's 'stoned' the mythical king in a rock by making a time-marker. It shows also that the astronomer(s) who did this probably knew the rules of precession. If they didn't know precession that we can be grateful they made El Cascabel because nowadays Regulus rises at about 75 degrees.
|peter de Vos (amsterdam) ():|
Ik zag dat je gewoon uit Nederland kwam dus ik doe het dan ook maar in het Nederlands.
Ik ben samen met mijn vriendin in november 2002 in Fuerte de Samaipata geweest.
Het gebied rondom de tempel wordt (werd) goed onderhouden en er zijn overal loopbruggen en uitzicht torens bij geplaatst. Het is wel een heel gedoe om een kaartje te kopen om het complex op te komen maar dit lukt uiteindelijk wel.
Ik ben er met een taxi vanuit Samapaita naar toe gegaan en dat is best goed te doen. Aan te raden is wel om een vaste prijs af te spreken voor de retour trip (inclusief wachttijd)
|G.J. de Jong (The Netherlands):|
Recently I have seen photographs of El Fuerte after restauration by UNESCO. Great work! Me and my wife visited El Fuerte in 1998.
In the past years I have done some research on the meaning of 'El Cascabel':one of El Fuerte's most significant features.
The 263 diamantshaped curves on El Cascabel and the view direction of the two parallel shafts of El Cascabel ( azimuth 71"0')show the importance of Venus, the morningstar.
It was Garcilaso de la Vega in his ancient chronicles of Peru who mentioned this temple for the first time.
In his description he speaks about he stone images of two condors (cunturs) that could be found on this hill. One cuntur was depicted in flight 'as to swoop on it's pray' and one cuntur with 'it's back turned to the spectator as in shame'.
Both images still can be seen on El Fuerte although they haven't been published before and are also unknown by UNESCO.
Besides that one particular spot one El Fuerte should be protected very well because this spot marks the (unknown and not-published)images of the mythical Manco Ccapac and Mama Occlo and also the images of two Llamaheads (offers?).
The writings of Garcilaso de la Vega show us that El Fuerte was pretty famous in Cusco and he writes:
"the painting still existed in good condition in 1580. In 1592 I asked a creole priest who had come to Spain from Peru if he had seen it and what state it was in. He replied that it was very faint, and indeed scarcely perceptible at all, having been ruined by wheather and water and neglect for the preservation of such antiquities" (Garcilaso de la Vega, Chapter XXIII: a famous painting; the rewards given to the Inca allies)
I hope UNESCO will take care of these paintings now. I will reveal these places in personal communication with UNESCO.
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