Qorikancha / Coricancha Incan Enclosure of Gold


Within Cusco, the Incan capital, a certain temple called the Enclosure of Gold or Qorikancha was constructed out of large, neat blocks of hard stone used most frequently in the area. These Imperial style structures demonstrate the fine stonework abilities of the ancient architects and builders. Today, Santo Domingo church and convent lies on top of the ruins, which makes studying them a bit more difficult. What historians have gleaned from their studies shows some evidence that the Incan temple actually predates their empire by quite a bit. Tiahuanaco architecture, for example, frequently used T-grooves with metal clamps to attach one stone to another. The Inca did not use this method in their later buildings. Other details point to the Wari as being responsible for some or all of the construction. For example, scholars notice astronomical alignments more often used by those earlier groups.


The Enclosure of Gold temple contains the central courtyard, surrounding walls, multiple terraces, and many interior rooms used for a variety of reasons. It would have originally sat on the banks of the Huatanay River, which has changed over the years to a much smaller stream. The temple is edged by a curving wall that seems to have been used for astronomy and the study of the stars. It may also have had significant use during sun worship or ceremonies. This wall shows an excellent example of vitrification of the granite and other stones used here. Some of the evidence of heating or com-positional changes are not present, but the stones do reflect light almost as effectively as a mirror. Besides its reflective nature, the Qorikancha outer wall clearly demonstrates the precision of stone joinery practiced by these ancient civilizations. Nearly no space or indentation exists between the stones. Even the joints themselves that run parallel to the ground show signs of vitrification. They are also amazingly straight, level, and evenly spaced. The vertical joints do not follow the same precise paths or rules as the horizontal ones. Still, the pink and gray granite stone is obviously fitted together with a high degree of skill and care.

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