The Astronomical Significance of Ritual Movements in the Calendar of Cuzco

  • R. Tom Zuidema

In a series of later articles data was presented, based on information about a ritual procession repeated by the Incas during eight days ending harvest in April, that, in fact, even a third observation of sunset was made in the antizenith direction as focused on Mt. Sucanca (Zuidema, 1993, 1996, 1997). This observation was made from a third point just outside Cuzco, in its valley and between the Ushnu and Mt. Quispicancha (Fig. 8.2). The procession would have followed a central part of the direction from Mt. Quispicancha to Mt. Sucanca and moved towards sunset on those days. Thus, we remain in doubt regarding the astronomical purposes that the Incas assigned to Mt. Quispicancha. In this study, I will not return to the problem as initially proposed by Aveni and me in 1981, but accept the astronomical conclusions that we arrived at then as essentially correct. Instead, the focus of this analysis is on the calendrical use of three ritual movements with visits that each began and/or ended at one or two of a set of four horizon points, including the two mentioned previously, said to be used for astronomical observation. Remarkably, these movements and visits were carried out, not in periods of days as reconstructed for the astronomical observation of those horizon points, but rather on quite different rationales. Analysis of these movements and their dates will clarify our understanding of their connection to the astronomical use of the horizon points, and thus, support and confirm the Incaic dates in their use for astronomical observation.


Full Moon Astronomical Observation Horizon Point December Solstice June Solstice 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Tom Zuidema
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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