Qenqo: Prehistoric Playground or Subterranean Sacrificial Death Chamber?

By Derek Olson

A Prehistoric Playground?

Cusco, Peru: not far from the much larger and very popular ancient site of Sacsayhuaman, lies the much smaller and lesser known “Qenqo” site, also known as “Little Qenqo.” But just because you may not have heard of it, do not make the mistake of thinking there is not much to see here.

For this mysterious megalithic site features incredible mortarless walls and precision cuts all over its protruding rock outcroppings. One almost gets the sense that this was some sort of prehistoric playground for the ancient architects to craft and create with ease using whatever form of ancient technology they possessed.

@ Enigma Cusco

In the Quechuan language, “Qenqo” means labyrinth or zig-zag, which speaks to the endless crooked canal like cut-outs seen everywhere.

@ Enigma Cusco

Most mainstream academics consider this site to have been created originally by the amazing Inca empire. Bronze chisels and hammers are the only tools found in the archaeological record that the Inca are known to have used.

On the “Mohs Scale of Hardness,” bronze ranks about a three, yet the granite and andesite stone at Qenqo is much harder ranking between six and seven on the same scale. How would the Inca have been able to precision craft this stone with softer tools? As Brien Foerster points out – “all of the corners seen here are slightly rounded, and there is no evidence of any tool marks.”

@ Jesus Roldan

A Subterranean Sacrificial Altar?

Inside one of the largest stone outcroppings is a labyrinth like cave that features a passageway, shaped surfaces, stairs and what many believe is some kind of ancient altar. I was absolutely in awe getting to traverse through this underground enigma last time I visited Peru.

Some theororize that Qenqo was actually considered to be a temple, a holy site for the Inca that was used for death rituals where the dead were judged and embalmed in the winding tunnels, and where blood sacrifices were offered to the gods.

According to some Spanish chroniclers, the altar shaped stone was covered in pure gold back when the Spanish arrived. In the upper part of the chamber you can see a hole in the cave ceiling above where the so called altar is. Apparently the light of the moon would penetrate through the hole and radiate upon the golden layer, thus illuminating this underground enigma. Some historians believe that this chamber may have been where Inca Emperor Pachacuteq was buried.

The Winding Serpent of Blood?

This zigzag serpent looking canal starts from a small hole and moves down in an inclined plane, which then branches off; one of these branches could have possibly led whatever liquid they were using to the underground chamber. According to the Cusqueño historian Victor Angles, the liquid could be enshrined chichi or the blood of beings sacrificed for the gods.

Did the Inca or an earlier civilization craft this incredible site? Did the Inca find it at a much later date and retrofit it into a sacred temple?

@ Rolando Martin

We will explore this site on the “Megalithic Marvels of Peru Tour” this October. Space is limited to the first 25 registrants. Find all the info here

References:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/temple-of-qenqo

https://www.cuscoperu.com/en/travel/cusco/archaeological-centers/qenqo

https://hiddenincatours.com/megalithic-site-called-qenqo-near-cusco-peru/

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