Lords of Vilca

An exceptional discovery has just been realized in the South of Peru, not far from the zone of search for the team of Inkari : that of a royal grave of the culture Wari to Vilcabamba, with three hundred coins of gold and silver. This stake in the day would be more important than that of the « Lord de Sipán ».

On the tracks of Waris in Antisuyo

The archaeological complex of Espiritu Pampa, to Vilcabamba, builds on order of Manco Inca, was not only the ultimate refuge of the inca resistance against the spanish invasion. It would also have been dominated by the culture wari in a previous period. It is what demonstrates the recent discovery of a set of graves among which the one was occupied by the "Lord of Vilca", main leader of the culture inca meadow of the Waris, the peak of which is situated between 600 and 1.200 AD.

Thierry Jamin comes to contemplate the magnificent waris objects discovered to Espiritu Pampa, exposed in February, 2011 to the Casa Garcilaso, to Cusco.
Thierry Jamin comes to contemplate the magnificent waris objects discovered to Espiritu Pampa, exposed in February, 2011 to the Casa Garcilaso, to Cusco.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, February, 2011)

It is in reality about a wari city built in the zone known under the name of Espiritu Pampa, situated in the province of La Convención, in approximately 500 kilometers of the city of Cusco, in the North of the department of the same name. Two kilometers only separate them from the complex of wari. Geographically, it is situated on the oriental hillside of the Andes, in the middle of the forest sub tropical wet, typical of the high forest, in the valley of the Rio Urubamba.

Not far from the rests of the leader were found eight other graves in which would have been buried the members of the nobility Wari.

In the funeral context of the "Señor Wari", an exceptional grave revealed the presence of a magnificent silver pectoral in the shape of "Y", two wide golden side bracelets with faces of big cats, a mask, two wooden sticks of chonta and 234 silver small strips, among which 90 % have an egg-shaped shape, the others having a circular shape. The totality of the bare elements are of style Wari. They were generally used for the burial of the nobility of this very ancient culture.

This discovery marks a real bend for the archaeology of the American continent, because it is about a royal funeral set belonging to a Peruvian civilization previous to the Incas. Juan Julio García Rivas, the regional director of Culture to Cusco, underlined the transcendence of the discovery which will change, partially, the history of the Incas.

Silver mask with decorative frontal elements and silver ceremonial axe and wood of chonta.
Silver mask with decorative frontal elements and silver ceremonial axe and wood of chonta.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, February, 2011)

"The discovery of the Lord of Wari to Espiritu Pampa is going to modify partially the history of the Incas. After Machu Picchu, it is one of the most important discoveries," he says in the Peruvian daily paper La República, on Thursday, February 24th, 2011.

The archaeologists advance three hypotheses on the presence of the Waris in the "last refuge of the Incas". The most likely would be a superimposing of periods, that is after the decline of Wari, the Incas would afterward have dominated Vilcabamba. Another hypothesis would want that the Incas would have loser the Waris after a relentless fight. The third would be the product of a politico-military alliance between both cultures.

Juan Julio Rivas considers that the end of this archaeological search will set several years :
"To determine why the Waris settled down to Vilcabamba will set several years of search."

Silver pectoral muscle in the shape of "Y" and anthropomorphic small strips.
Silver pectoral muscle in the shape of "Y" and anthropomorphic small strips.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, February, 2011)

The discovery was made public in the presence of the Chief Executive Officer of the UNESCO, Irina Georgia Bokova, on the occasion of an official visit of this one to Cusco. Bokova showed herself amazed by the beauty and the magnificence of the objects brought to light by the Regional office of Culture.

The various architectural elements of the studied site show a shape "D", typical of the Average Horizon of the culture wari. The recent studies reveal that the citadel of Espiritu Pampa was initially occupied by the Waris, then later by the Incas, without altering for all that the primitive establishment.

The secrets of Espiritu Pampa

A part of the site of Espiritu Pampa.
A part of the site of Espiritu Pampa.
(Photo : Regional office of Culture - Cusco, February, 2011)

According to the columnists, the zone of Espiritu Pampa was populated before the Incas by various ethnic groups of Indians Antis. Among them, the Manaries, the Pilcozones and the Guanucomarcas. These same columnists indicate that Espiritu Pampa, that they call so sometimes Vilcabamba La Vieja, was established by Manco Inca and constituted the last inca refuge during the period of resistance against the Spanish invasion.

Espiritu Pampa is traditionally known as an inca site. The architecture is constituted by a series of spaces, places and surrounding walls of rectangular shape, accompanied with rocks (huacas) and with usnos (platforms). The archaeological excavations realized by various researchers had determined until now an exclusive occupation of the inca site. This opinion was mainly based on the study of shards of ceramic. This occupation extended of the end of the XVth century in the colonial time. None of these studies had until then defined an occupation inca meadow, and even less wari.

The empire of Waris.
The empire of Waris.
(Photo : Regional office of Culture - Cusco, February, 2011)

According to the last searches, we think that the wari empire extended, since its center situated in the region of Ayacucho, in the North to the department of La Libertad, in the South up to the departments of Cusco and Moquegua, on the West to the Pacific Coast. In the East, his limits were not very clear beyond the territory of Ayacucho. The only evidences of contacts with the jungle were based until now by discoveries of objects chonta (arrows).

Archaeological searches

The archaeological searches to Espiritu Pampa.
The archaeological searches to Espiritu Pampa.
(Photo : Regional office of Culture - Cusco, February, 2011)

After some weeks of difficult work to remove the thick vegetation which covered the sector, the archaeologists of the Regional Direction of Culture introduced the long road leading to the discovery of the graves waris, realizing at first the plan of an archaeological area of 450 m².

Step by step and in the strict respect of the scientific procedures, the researchers have made the archaeological excavations, removing patiently layers of soil level by level. The set objects overdraft in the wet ground of the forest was extracted by adopting security measures planned in archaeological search, which recommend to avoid any abrupt change of temperature which can provoke an accelerated process of deterioration.

Thanks to these measures, it was possible to bring to light the existence of several structures funeral, by getting back the ceramic and metallic material. Their type of iconography, their morphology and the techniques of manufacturing so revealed a cultural filiation of the specific Average Horizon of the culture of Wari.

As first conclusions of the made searches, we determined that we are in front of the discovery of a character of elite of the culture wari which had to be the leader of the colony wari settled to Espiritu Pampa. With him, the other characters were buried : those who doubtless established in the period a part of his servants. For what it is allowed to judge it, it would thus be a question of the "Lord of Vilcabamba" or Vilca, if we consider the Andean duality.

A new history

Ceramic discovered to Espiritu Pampa.
Ceramic discovered to Espiritu Pampa.
(Photo : Regional office of Culture - Cusco, February, 2011)

We also know that Espiritu Pampa was not only the last bastion of the inca resistance against the Spanish invasion but that a wari establishment prospered there before and that it was credibly known by the Incas.
We can so determine that Espiritu Pampa was a place crowned for both cultures. In quechua language, the word "vilca" means moreover crowned.

 

The history of the Incas and the ancient Peru take out little by little oversights of the history.
The history of the Incas and the ancient Peru take out little by little oversights of the history.
(Photo: Regional office of Culture - Cusco, February, 2011)

The brought to light of the "Lord of Wari" thus questions several studies dedicated to this civilization inca meadow and which asserted that the Waris had never extended to the forest. They considered that it was only about a culture mountain dweller and coastal. In the same way, it denies the assertion according to which the expansion wari, in the department of Cusco, it would be limited to the provinces of Cusco, Quispicanchi (Lucre, Huaro), of Acomayo and a part of that of Anta (Cf. : Mary Glowacki y Gordon Mc Ewan).

This discovery also contradicts the assertions of the columnists and several modern researchers for whom Espiritu Pampa had been established by the Incas.

Silver funeral mask.
Silver funeral mask.
(Photo : Regional office of Culture - Cusco, February, 2011)

If we make a critical analysis of the data which we have now, in the light of the works of the archaeologist Maria Rostworowski de Diez Canseco, we can envisage as likely contacts between the Waris of the last period and the first Incas. The memory of such contacts kept maybe indeed in the Andean mythology through the episode of the famous War of the Incas against the Chancas, which were maybe Waris. Let us listen to Maria Rostworowski in his entitled book “Historia del Tahuantinsuyu” (second edition, IEP/Promperú, Lima, 1999) :
"Under the reign of Viracocha, the Chancas went out of their lands, decided to conquer the world, and left Paucaray, their main village, situated at three leagues of Parcos. According to the Andean tradition, their army was divided into three parts, one of his had set off to Cuntisuyo, having for leaders Malma and Irapa or Rapa […] The second army went […] towards the Antisuyo [According to Sarmiento de Gamboa] ; His generals were Yana Vilca y Toquello Vilca o Teclo Vilca. The third group set off to Cusco and was led by Tumay Huaraca and Astu Huaraca ; it was also driven by Huaman Huaraca who was in charge of negotiating the redition of the Inca.”

What we can assert, on the basis of the superimposing of cultural elements of the Waris and the Incas, in a common geographical environment and the unique variable of which is the time, consists of the fact that the dynasty of the Incas was doubtless the continuation of successive dynasties of the civilization wari, as imagines it Juha Hiltunen on the basis of a reinterpretation of the chronicle of Fernando de Montesinos.

The mystery of the Waris of Vilcabamba is far from being closed…

Thierry Jamin - March, 2011

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