When I planned to come down to Q'osqo (Cusco), my hope was to meet with the new Director of the Parque de Archeological de Saqsaywaman by the second week and, hopefully, get an update and permission to work on the site again. I had no idea we would be welcomed so quickly and warmly as we were today!
With the help of two of the heritage professionals we worked with before, Jose Antonio Reynoso & Samuel Kjuro Arenas, a meeting was schedule with the Director Francisco Solis Diaz for today, January 3rd. I had to quickly update my presentation and get ready in less than 24 hours for this important meeting.
They were particularly interested in the fact that my recent DNA test showed that I have 1% Andean blood in me. The director said "I'll have 10% in me by the time I leave."
I was lucky to have one of the client services managers from Maximo Nivel, Fiorela Romero, assist to translate...and she did a GREAT job! The meeting started, much to my relief, with Jose Antonio and Samuel giving the director a recap of the work we had done before describing it as "valuable" and "impartial." Then, I gave a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation about the project and then we had a discussion about how we might be of assistance from this date forward.
The head of park anthropological research, Miguel Silva, was also there and helped to clarify what the status of each community is currently. There are many new issues, mainly the expansion of Q'osqo into the park boundaries, as well as some other issues in new communities that we have not worked in before.
The new director, Francisco Solis Diaz, seems to have worked to calm some of the conflicts that existed on this site last time we were here. It seems that each community now has a representative that speaks to the Ministry and helps to iron out various issues. The director has direct relationships with a few of the communities and we will plan to interview him later in the month to document how he negotiated solutions to some of the conflicts that existed before. He feels that the communities of Pucara, Fortelaza & Wayllarqocha currently have good relationships with the Ministry. Whereas, there are a couple other locations that would benefit from our help to discover what the issues might need to be addressed.
The map of the archaeological park has changed a bit since we were here last, so we will be getting a new master plan for the site so we can identify locations we can be helpful. One of the pressing problems the park has right now is encrochment from the city below, Q'osqo.
Our next step is to put together a formal project proposal and submit it, in Spanish, to the office Matera Direccion Desconcentrada del Cultura de Q'osqo so we can be given a convenio...basically our permission to work on the site to do academic research. I will be working, hopefully with Fiorela Romero (from Maximo Nivel) to do this. I will have a meeting tomorrow with Marco Boyd, director of International Programs at Maximo Nivel, to see if we can retain the services of Fiorela as our project translator. Hope so...she did a great job today during a pretty technical meeting.
After the meeting we took a quick tour of the main Saqsaywaman complex. Mario Canajo spoke about the current thinking about the volcanic stone outcrop at the center of the complex.
The most recent information is that the Inca believed this stone, which is obviously volcanic in nature, was believe to be the "Q'osqo"...navel of the Earth. The Inca believed this stone structure was sacred as it was the original mound that emerged to form the city.
I'll have more about this aspect of Saqsaywaman, as well as the main wall complex in a later blog. This site consists of so many unique stone structures, both man made and natural that it's easy to understand why there's a desire to preserve the site for humanity.
Maren Elwood is a visual anthropologist and founder of On-Site Expeditions...a field school that will provide scholarships to aspiring heritage professionals. The first field school session will be in January 2020.