October 31st, 2006

Northwest of Puno lies the small town of Pukará. This tiny town has more than 2000 years of rich history. In the hills above the town, buried beneath the earth, is an ancient urban and ceremonial center of the Pukará pre-Inca culture.

Little is known of the culture, the ruins have only recently been excavated and work is still a long way from being completed. Although the site was known about when the Spanish conquered (they built a church over it, and when that was destroyed, dragged stones down from the site to build the new church you see in the photos of the town attached), the site has never been fully looked at by either Peruvian or foreign archaeologists.

This is in part due to the remote location and in part due the coca-smuggling terrorists of Peru’s recent past. What is known is as follows.
The Pukará were warriors who often had conflicts with the people who lived closer to the lake. On winning the battle they would take the heads of the enemy as trophies and hope to gain their power. They had religious beliefs involving animals and their spirits as gods. The carvings seen in my photos are of some of these animals.
The building techniques are similar to those at Tiwanaku, another pre-Inca site in Bolivia. It is thought that the Pukará are one of the main cultures from which the Inca culture is descended. The site was still used in Inca times, there is evidence that the Inca rebuilt and added to parts of what were, even in their time, ancient ruins.
Photos below.

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