The words of Dr. Cabrera


A visit with Dr. Cabrera


(this material is an excerpt from the book "The Message of the Stones", by Dr. Javier Cabrera)



Surprisingly, the Incas, who did not invent the wheel, had a rather advanced system of socio-political organization. The history of the Incas is well-known, so I want here merely to point out that the basis of the Inca empire, agriculture, was organized in such a manner as to provide for any possible contingency. Methods of irrigation and cultivation complemented this system of production.

By studying some of the scientific and technological methods recorded on stone and other materials by gliptolithic humanity, it is possible that the Incas may have gotten information which helped further the designs of the empire. Since I believe that the Pre-Inca cultures also had access to the gliptolithic deposits, I cannot be sure that the Incas knew of these deposits by independent discovery or by information passed down from previous societies. Neither am I in a position to state whether gliptolithic humanity buried the stones along with objects made of other materials, or whether the stones had their own separate deposits. In either case, the wise men of the empire - the amautas - must have played an important role in the reading and study of the testimonials left by gliptolithic humanity, especially the stones. But in the end, the amautas belonged to an incipiently scientific and technological civilization, and they necessarily had a limited conceptual framework; they could take from the stones only what was within the range of their understanding. Most of the stones, then, could not be deciphered. However, since the information they could interpret was put to use in the organization of the empire, it is possible that only the highest ranking members of the governing elite - the Inca himself, his immediate descendants and the first amautas - would have had access to the deposits, so as to keep their location a secret. Amazed by the nature of the information, the members of the governing elite asked themselves who were the men who had created the engraved stones. The figure of the gliptolithic man that can be seen in many stones began to be identified as the image of an exceptional being, of superior intelligence, who represented what in many cases they could not understand and in other cases revealed that he was an extremely powerful being. They saw him in the stones fighting with gigantic monsters, easily dominating and killing them. They saw him in enormous birds, flying. They saw him alongside the stars. They saw him sailing on the ocean. They saw him on land, riding animals they had never seen. The nature of the knowledge left by this being prevented them from thinking of him as a god; it was a knowledge based on the things of this world, knowledge for a better life. Who better than they to take advantage of this knowledge, at least that part of it which they could understand. They arrived at the conclusion that this was a man. But they understood that it was not just any man; it was a man who had known and conquered many things that they hadn't known or conquered. It was, then, an extremely powerful man, who must have lived in this same region many thousands of years ago. In sum - reasoned the governing elite - this was a man who had departed and whose descendants - equally powerful men - might return at any moment.

But the governing elite never forgot that the coexistence of this man with the monstrous, unknown animals seen in some stones could conjure up for simpler minds the image of a divine being, capable of inspiring respect and terror. And so they decided to use this image to reinforce the power of the Inca over his subjects. The stones were put on display before the people. The images were accompanied by the idea that this was a god who had come from the sea and had lived in these lands and that one day he would return, coming again from the sea. His name was Wiracocha (32). And all this was accompanied by another idea: that the Inca was the descendant of this god.

To reinforce this idea, the Inca began to wear ornaments on his head that looked like the symbolic elements used to identify gliptolithic men in the stones: a band with feathers (since these looked like leaves). The respect for and fear of the god Wiracocha were extended to the Inca. Thus the principle of submission to authority had an element od divine ordinance.

It is possible that many of the legends of the Quechua people, which weave together stories of hideous monsters and man, nay have had their origin in this time. They recount deeds inspired by the admiration and fear on the Inca people, for this strange being whom they did not completely understand, but whom they believed was a superior being - a god - in the remote past. I think that all this happened if not with the first Inca then with one of the first. From that time and for all the time the Incas remained in power, the god Wiracocha and the strange mix of hope and fear with which his return was awaited was inscribed in the heart of the people.

    The goal of gliptolithic humanity - to develop thought capacity to increase and conserve knowledge - was, of course, quite far removed from the goal of the Inca empire. Certainly in the stones, especially that relating to social norms, to forms of labor organization, and to territorial limits which assured good access to natural and human resources. But their goal was different: to make use of the mass of people for the benefit of a privileged minority made up of the Inca, the nobility, the priests, and the intellectual elite at the service of power. But this privilege was not limited to the Cusco elite. When the Incas expanded their empire and conquered the rest of the kingdoms and nationalities existent in the territory of Peru, the regional elites kept their privileges so that they could act as intermediaries of power, to help dominate the majority and use their labor for the good of the Cusco elite. The region of the Inca Pachacutec saw most of the expansion of the empire and was the period of the highest levels of organization and the greatest development of the empire.

    The Indian chronicler Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Llaraqui wrote in the sixteenth century that at the time of the Inca Pachacutec many carved stones were found in the kingdom of Chincha, in Chinchayunga, which were called manco (33).

    Today it is believed that manco or manku is a corruption of the Aymara word malku, which in the region of Collao was used to mean chieftain or lord of vassals. I infer then that manco or manku meant a person who held command or power. In reference to engraved stones, it would have meant that the stones spoke of the existence of a being of extraordinary power (powerful man, for the Inca and his governing elite; powerful god, for the rest of the people), and would at the same time have lent an aura of power to the possessor of the stones, the Inca. I would also like to point out the relationship between the Quechua word capa or kapa, meaning "outstretched hand" (a word that with slight orthographic alteration makes up the name of the first Inca, Manco Capac) and one of the characteristics of the gliptolithic symbolism: generally a man is depicted with his hands outstretched, especially in important representations. In "Chinchayunga" the Indian chronicler was no doubt referring to the low country of the central coast of Peru, where Ica is located.

There is a well-known Quechua legend which has as protagonists the Inca Pachacutec and a young woman called Achirana, daughter of a landowner in the zone of Tate, the high country of the valley of Ica. The legend is known as "La Achirana del Inca" and relates that on one of the Inca's visits to this valley he met the girl and fell hopelessly in love with her. Knowing that the lands owned by her father did not reach to the waters of the Ica River, he ordered a huge canal to be dug to connect the river with these much-higher lands in Tate, and by this means the landholder was able to get water. This canal, which still exists and makes up one of the branches of the Ica River is called Achirana. I am convinced that this legend deliberately obscures a truth. The love of Pachacutec for Achirana was not the reason why this branch of the Ica River was created. Like all coastal rivers in Peru, the Ica River is treacherous in the summer because of heavy mountain rains, and many a time it overflows its banks and floods large areas causing extensive damage, especially where the river bed is shallow in the plains of La Banda, Ocucaje, Callango, Chiquerillo, Tomaluz, Ullujaya, Montegrande. As Inca, Pachacutec knew where the deposits of gliptoliths lay - obviously in that flat zone, where Ocucaje is - and he feared that periodic inundations would erode the deposits and destroy the stones. To avert this danger, at least in part, he ordered a canal to be dug which would divert some of the river's waters at a spot many kilometers above the danger zone. Not only do I not believe that the reason for the canal was that given in the legend, but I doubt there was ever any love between Pachacutec and Achirana, this was only a story put together by the Incas and his advisors to hide the real reason for the canal. I base this disbelief on the fact that in neither history, tradition, or legend is there any suggestion of Pachacutec's descendants in the region of Ica. I also base my opinion on the fact that this region, so flat as to make the river overflow easily, was covered until many years after the arrival of the Spaniards with immense forests of huarango, a tree with a heavy trunk and spiny branches. In other words, this whole flat region, that begins about three kilometers to the south of the city of Ica and extends to the southwest for more or less sixty kilometers, was not cultivated and was, in fact, impenetrable. The presence of this forest no doubt owes to the desire of the Inca - Pachacutec or one of the earlier Incas - to protect the region from wanderers who might stumble upon the deposits of gliptoliths. The disappearance of these forests took centuries. Once the vice-regal capital was established in Peru, thousands of these trees were cut, and the wood was put to multiple uses in other parts of Ica province. But even so, the forests were far from being exhausted. In the nineteenth century they provided most of the railroad ties and fuel for the line from Ica to Pisco, sane seventy kilometers to the north of the city of Ica; they also provided the stakes for vineyards and raw material for the coal industry. It was precisely the cutting of the forest that, toward the end of the nineteenth century, permitted the region to be seen for what it is, an archeological paradise. The total disappearance of these forests to clear land for crops is a quite recent phenomenon.

It is clear that the Inca elite hid the truth about the Engraved Stones from the people. They kept to themselves the fact that the engravers of the stones had simply been more highly evolved in a cognitive sense, that the stones contained valuable information about science and technology and not about the things of the gods. Making use of the depiction of the strange men's coexistence with frightening animals, the elite made of him something to be feared, a supernatural being who would return, and from whom the Inca was descended. Thus arose what I consider the greatest myth to dominate the minds of the people of ancient Peru. Since the deception about the meaning of the stones was used to reinforce the power of the Inca over his people, it was crucial that the people not find the deposits of gliptolithic stones, lest they discover the deception and the Inca lose his power over them. So, the Inca Pachacutec and his advisors had good reason to keep secret the real motive behind the excavation of the huge canal, and they invented a non-existent motive: the Inca's love for Achirana. As happens in every myth, real facts, deeds, and circumstances were molded into a fabulous form. The existence of the dry Lands of Tate, the existence of the young girl Achirana and her beauty, the existence of her father the chieftain of Tate, the existence of the Ica River, and the existence of the canal that was dug are all facts. Thus, "La Achirana del Inca" is a regional myth born of the need to protect a national myth: the great myth of the powerful god Wiracocha.



(32) Wiracocha: god of the Inca's Empire. For some historiographers Wiracocha Has the principal god as for others was only one of them. There are soģe investigators who affirm that Wiracocha represented the sun, the one and only creator of every visible thing. Some chroniclers affirm that Wiracocha was a legendary hero.

(33)  Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Llaiqui: Relacion de antigliedades deste reyno del Piru.