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Perfect Fitting Stones

In the Sacred Valley at the site of Ollantaytambo lie many unfinished blocks of ryholite. They were quarried or collected from a large rockfall 2.17 miles away across the Urubamba River. How are the massive stones quarried, transported, dressed and placed? The lack of written history leaves it up to us to figure out by observation, comparison, and experimentation.

Quarrying did not occur in the classic sense of hewing raw blocks from solid cliffs. The Inca stonemasons searched the rockslides for blocks that would suit their purposes. Often the raw blocks were partially shaped at the quarry or during transportation. Final fitting and dressing of the stones occurred at the work site.

Rough shaping of stones was accomplished by two main techniques. At the base of the ramp leading up to the Sun Temple at Ollantaytambo lie several blocks abandoned in transit. One shows small holes pecked into a natural groove into which wedges were driven to split the stone.

The other method for roughing stones was to simply carve a collar around the stone until the unwanted portion broke off. This worked on any area of the stone and didn't rely on a naturally occurring fissure.

At Ollantaytambo transporting the large blocks required them to be lowered from the quarry area, hauled across the valley floor, over the Urubamba River, and up to the Temple site.

As mentioned above there are several large stones lying at the base of a large ramp which leads up to the Temple. They are called the "Tired Stones". As evidenced by digging under other stones left in the fields, getting them to this point was accomplished by dragging them over a prepared bed of cobblestones. Vincent Lee has suggested a method for getting them up the steep ramp, turning them and bringing them to the site.

Vincent Lee developed his method while working on similar problems on Easter Island. He devised a method that employs a track of ladder-like sections for the roadbed, a sled to place the stone on, and levers to move it forward.

Dressing and setting the stones in the precise way that made Inca construction so famous is also not known from written history. None of the stonemasons' methods survived to present day. Many theories have been proposed.

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 stonemasons.

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 interventions.

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.

Source: Inca Architecture

Stone Technology

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.

Massive, multi-sided blocks were precisely fitted together in interlocking
patterns in order to withstand the disastrous effects of earth quakes.

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 disposal."

Jean-Pierre Protzen ---Scientific American ---Feb. 1986

Was this 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 rational explanation.

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 Summaries.

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.

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.

The 'Sacred Rocks' of the first style

Of the other two styles, the first one is the style were rock in situ was treated. The appearance is like cut cheese or butter. Many times large pieces of stone are removed and the finish is perfect, with forms that appear like our modern package material (foam), with rounded internal corners. The rocks like that can be found in all vestiges considered Inca, and normally in the centre or below the other 2 styles. We can find these treated rocks also in many other places without the other 2 styles. Often they form something like an altar, and till present times they are places were people make offerings and do the worshipping to the earth or ''Pacha Mama''.

The second style of perfect fitting stones that once were soft

The second style is the style of the perfect fitting stones. Walls were not even a needle enters between the stoneblocks. They can be found in different forms and sizes, but the general characteristic is the perfect fit. Also these stones have a part that is vitrified, this is at the borders. Sometimes also on other parts of the stoneblocks we can recognize vitrification. Another characteristic of these walls is the blueprint that the upperlaying stones left on the lower laying stones, as if the weight of the upper stones gave the print in the once softer underlying stones.

Orthodox science has no convincing explanation

These two styles can clearly be identified. For the eye the moulding and vitrification are obvious once you know how and where to look. Still orthodox science has other explanations. We have to realize though that there are just a few investigations that really gave importance to this phenomena. A serious investigation with includes anayzing stones etc. did not happen as far as I know, except maybe Protzen, who said he can reach similar results with polishing. He did that with only Andesite as a small proof. I do not consider polishing as a serious option to explain all the observed phenomena. The option that Alfredo Gamarra speaks about, with stones having been moulded and vitrified, is more logic. Some special technique must have been used by the ancients to be able to reach these astonishing results.

A list of arguments in favor of a special technique

So definitely a special technique was used, a conclusion that is based on the following arguments:

  • All the time the melted look is present and obvious.
  • The reflection is strong.
  • A layer is present at the surface where the vitrifcation is visible, sometimes the layer is interrupted because of some damage that occurred, and there this layer is clearly visible as a small ´film´ over the stone, this is independently of he type of rock.
  • The surface is completely smooth for the touch in all cases, although the surface can be irregular (so it would have been extremely difficult to polish this irregular surface).
  • The scale and the repetition and the form of the phenomena is such that the factor time and the difficulty to reach the precision doing it with carving and polishing, must be considered as ''not very probable'' and ''absolutely not common sense''. Useless for the Incas to do these kind of things and to spend so much time.
  • Others have shown that many of these stones are magnetic, so something special happened with these rocks.
  • The color on the treated rocks many times is different compared with the same but not treated rock nearby.
  • On the perfect fitting stone walls we see very small pieces of stone of lower blocks, entering to occupy the small space between the upper laying blocks, as if the weight of the upper laying blocks pressed the once soft stone below to go there, these very thin pieces of rock would have been broken if polishing and smashing with other stones or using metal tools would have been the method of construction. This can be observed in the walls of Koricancha for example.
  • Repeated observation of all the phenomena mentioned above in all so called Inca vestiges, which includes different types of stone, and both construction styles: the walls with perfect fitting stones and the rocks 'in situ'.

A few more considerations

1. A scientist that did detect vitrification was late prof. Watkins. He said:
The rock surfaces on Inca stones are similar to those that have been thermally disaggregated. Indeed, some of the slick surfaces on the Inca building stones are glazed, so it becomes apparent that the Incas must have used thermal disaggregation.

2. Metal Clamps and T-grooves.
The use of Metal Clamps in T-Grooves happened in Tiahuanaco, Ollantaytambo, Koricancha and the site of Yuroc Rumi, Vilcabamba. Also in Egypt the use of clamps was found. The grooves appear to be limited to the most monumental structures, as the size of the blocks in which they were used is huge. At the site of Pumapunku, Tiahuanaco, a number of grooves still can be observed. Some say the metal of these clamps is from a very special alley, others say it is of a composition that is perfectly normal for the bronze technology of the Tiahuanaco culture.

The interpretation of the use.

Why would the builders use or need a small metal clamp to hold large stone blocks in place? This is the reason that some consider that the clamps were for ceremonial use, as the effect for construction use would be very limitted, namely the size of the blocks is too big compared with the size of the T-grooves and clamps. See:

But Alfredo Gamarra said that the perfect fitting blocks do so because they were moldable on the moment of construction. If Alfredo was right, one can imagine that especially bigger blocks were more difficult to treat, as the weight of the clay-like block would have given problems to keep them in place, and the clay could have had the tendency to deform. The clamps would have served for keeping the blocks together, so they would harden out in the right position. The observation that the groove has been polished is important here. The same can be observed on the borders of the stones of the perfect fitting walls. Some technology with heat was applied to give form and strength to the construction. This means the shine is not because of polishing, but would be vitrification. The same counts for the T-Grooves. From the picture of the stoneblock with the T-groove in Ollantaytambo, it can be observed that also a bigger part of the stone is vitrified, not only the part of the groove.

Is this conclusion of vitrified and moldable stones the same as with the theory of the geopolymeres of the pyramids in Egypt?

No, this is not the same as where the Frenchman Joseph Davidovits is speaking about. He indicates that stones of the great pyramid were made out of cement, or geopolymeres. See: . But there are interesting coincidences with Alfredo Gamarra's ideas:

  • Stone on the moment of construction was soft and moldable.
  • Because of this the stones fit perfectly.

But the differences are:

  • The construction style of perfect fitting stones has been done with different types of stone, what means that for every type of stone there should have been a formula for the making of cement. Something that is much more complicated, so less probable as an explanation.
  • The use of cement is not completely logical; why has each stone another form and size? More logical it would have been to use a mold and in this way a standard size of stone, to make the construction- work easier.

The proposal of Alfredo Gamarra means that every stone can be unique in size and form, but that at the same time, without any complications, they fit perfectly together. Making a mold for each stone would have made the work unnecessarily more laborous and more complicated.

Vitrification is everywhere, see more pictures below and the video in our chapter 'Vitrified Stone', a courtesy from the DVD.

As stated before, vitrification is to be seen in all the Inca vestiges. See the pictures on the right and the video below. The video is a courtesy, so you can get an impression of our video 'The Cosmogony of the 3 worlds' and the interesting and fascinating information and images that you can expect in this documentary. On the DVD this chapter is to be seen in full DVD quality of course.

For your information: in this example chapter of the DVD, two terms are mentioned that might be unknown to you:

  1. The Hanan Pacha time period. This is a reference to the first orbit with human life. A time with less gravity, when the earth was closer to the sun. Speaking about the 'Sacred Rocks' of the first style, we refer to this period. The constructions were made in the rocks themselves, those rocks that nowadays form the base of many ancient vestiges. Especially those of the Inca's, but also in Egypt and other places. See 'Other ancient cultures'.
  2. The Uran Pacha time period. This is the next period, in which the style of perfect fitting walls was made. This period was before our present period.

In both periods, vitrification was used, which can be observed on the video: