Dimensions of Place: The Significance of Centers to the Development of Andean Civilization: An Exploration of the Ushnu Concept

  • John Edward Staller

The concept of huaca is so fluid as to become almost meaningless as an analytical tool unless it is defined specifically with reference to the topic at hand, that is, centers (Fig. 9.1). Huaca is also used here to refer to Sacred Places in the landscape, and how material objects, living things, including people, attain the status of huaca and have distinct symbolic meanings with reference to such places. Particular emphasis is given to how such Sacred Places are differentiated from secular space and the role(s) ushnus may play in status differentiation and sociocultural development.

Huaca shrines (huacacuna) were powerful social and political places, and as they gained legitimacy worshipers would build temples or platforms and make offerings. The oracle at Pachacamac, located near present day Lima in southern coastal Peru, was in fact so powerful and highly venerated throughout the coast and highlands that even the Inca built a temple to the Sun (Inti) and to the Virgins of the Sun (mamaconas) at that locality and made offerings of textiles, gold and silver (Salomon and Urioste, 1991 [c. 1598–1608]:Chap. 22, Sect. 277).


Sacred Place Mortuary Practice Ceremonial Center Spiritual Realm Symbolic Association 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Edward Staller
    • 1
  1. 1.The Field MuseumChicagoUSA

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