In 2011, O’Higgins Tours Ltd. was awarded funding from Chilean government agency SERCOTEC to commission a 3D animation of local Inca archaeological sites. The 3D reconstruction is based on available information from extensive archaeological research and various field trips. Samples of the reconstructions, by local graphic designer Eduardo Galdames, can be viewed below. Further information and digital presentations of the sites are available our tours.
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Preview 3D Animation of local Inca Archeogical Site
According to the Central Quechua Language Academy, ‘Pukara’ is a Quechua word that translates into English as both ‘fortress’ and ‘viewpoint’. They were typically hillside fortified defensive complexes where the Incas stored food arms, food and reserve soldiers and controlled the main communication routes.
In the Libertador O’Higgins Region, where the site is located, the Incas settled, farmed and even built a wicker bridge in Rancagua which crossed the Cachapoal River. In addition to this, they built a religious site on the outskirts of Santiago which doubled as an astronomical observatory and burial ground, and established a fortified frontier, marking the southern boundaries of the Inca Empire with the very Pukara you have seen in this video. It is located along the local branch of the Kapak Ñan (the Royal Inca Highway) and is of particular historical significance for its part in the founding of modern Chile as we know it.
Reconstruction of a local Inca watchtower uncovered near Rancagua
Inca watchtowers had square foundations, as opposed to the circular foundations of the qolqas or the rectangular foundations of the wasis.
This square structure at the extreme north of the site was defensive, and positioned strategically. It was very high up, so difficult to fire missiles at but very easy to fire missiles from. As it was on a cliff top, it was impossible to climb. Furthermore, the occupant had Inca military technology and an arsenal of missiles at his disposal, traces of which have been found here.
Reconstruction of a local Inca food storage deposit uncovered near Rancagua
These were qolqas; Inca food storage deposits built to ensure adequate provisions for long stretches of time. The Pukara is distinct from other such forts in Chile for its notable abundance of them. Soldiers here were posted for long periods of time in the face of frequent attack, harassment and food shortages. Although the Pukara was on the Kapak Ñam, and thus on a route frequented by Inca armies, the road was also used by marauding Mapuche warriors who destroyed the crops of local Picunche tribes west of the road.
These raids on crops in the area explain why the Pukara has so many qolqas and why it was so heavily fortified.
Although primarily for storage, some qolqas on the site also served interesting secondary purposes. At one qolqa, archaeologists found rocks used for pulverizing crops, an Inca mill. Another was an Inca biological weapons factory; a qolqa used for storing arrowheads and poison to dip them in. This corroborates the frequency of battles and attacks here
Reconstruction of a local Inca dwelling uncovered near Rancagua
These buildings were wasis (Quechua for "house"). They functioned as administrative and residential centres, and activity at the site revolved around these structures.
Food was cooked here, especially quinoa, the staple diet of the Incas. They identified it with their homeland and it was grown to symbolically alter the landscape and confirm domination over the local populations.
They also cooked and ate Madi seeds here.
A large number of cactus remains were also uncovered in the aisle by these buildings. This tells us that this passage way was lit by torches, which were made from cactus stalks.