Andina

Peru: Coricancha used as museum during Inca times

15:57 | Cusco (Cusco region), May. 29.

One of the most outstanding pre-Hispanic constructions in the Andean city of Cusco is Coricancha. According to a study by Peruvian archaeologist Hernan Hurtado —published in the Colombian academic journal Artificios— the site is believed to have been used as a museum, among other things.

According to the expert, this was a result of the Tahuantinsuyo imperialist policy.

"There is some archaeological evidence and chronicles that lead us to believe that. Without a doubt, the Incas had to symbolically contain their annexed, conquered territories as part of their expansionist policy, and this building stood out because of this primary function," he told Andina news agency.

The specialist referred to excavations by John Rowe in the 1960s, as well as by Steven Kosiba and Jesus Galiano in the 2000s.

In both cases, there are glimmers —especially in the works of the last two— of evidence and interpretation regarding the different functions of Coricancha.

"Archaeological and historical data suggest some functions and generalizations. The Coricancha case implies the restructuring of a sacred place that existed before the Inca Empire, but whose functions are diverse, from its role in the Situa festival to the preservation and management of idols and objects found there," he added.

Coricancha was alleged to contain the Inca mummies, an idol known as Punchao, among other sacred objects from several territories across the Tahuantinsuyo.

According to Hurtado, access was limited, only Inca nobles and the elite were allowed to enter. However, the surrounding areas were used for popular parties.

The archaeologist emphasized that Garcilaso, chroniclers, Spaniards and Cusco residents claimed that studying the Coricancha objects was part of the elite's education.

"With such a great ceremonial and sacred place, it is hard to doubt that Coricancha served a pedagogical purpose. Likewise, it is an express manifestation of the Inca's power," he stated.

Hurtado recalled that this was not the only pre-Hispanic museum. There was a collection in Pachacamac as well.

(END) ECG/RMB/MVB

Published: 5/29/2020
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