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Ollantaytambo: House of the Dawn; an Underestimated Inca Monument (cont.)
By Brien Foerster

Again from the Salazars’ book we have this reference to a “window” of some kind that exists at Ollantaytambo: ‘…they trod upon the splendid valley of Yucay, today known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas (after having left Titicaca) and following the banks of the river that flows through it (the Willcamayu or Sacred River) they arrived at Tambo. There they entered the deep basements of the Pacaritanpu, which means “House of Dawn or House of Windows.”

The windows referred to seem to be the two depressions in the ground at the lower right corner of the photo. I saw them myself some months back, and they are now used as cornfields. If you look at this photo in it’s entirety, you will notice that it forms the shape of a pyramid, albeit with only two sides visible.


The 2 dimensional pyramid of Pacarictanpu. Photo from Bing Free Images

This intriguing “structure” is rarely if ever shown by guides to Ollantaytambo, mainly because most of them don’t even know it is there! And no one, in all of the research that I have done, has a clue who made it or when.

On the winter solstice of each year, June 21, the rays of the rising sun enter and strike the right one of the two windows of the pyramid. This coincides, more or less, with the celebration of the Inti Raymi, which is the Inca celebration of the rebirth of the sun, and of the history of the whole Inca civilization.

According to the Salazars’ interpretation of this event and effect, ‘the sun’s light entering this space symbolizes the union between the Sky and the Earth, and the “illumination” of its heroes is a product of its communion, which is why they were called the Sons of the Sun.’

Hence the name “House of the Dawn” has a double meaning, typical of many oral traditions; dawn as in morning, more specifically the morning of the display of the solstice, and dawn as in place and time of origins of a people; the Inca in this case.

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