The stone wall shown in the photograph is Cyclopean
stonework from the walls of the Sacsayhuaman Fortress. The term Cyclopean means the wall is “dry” or was laid
without mortar, a bonding material used in masonry. The primary function of this wall was function. It was built for strength
and protection. The stone used to build this wall was found locally and probably created from either granite or limestone.
The stonecutters obviously possessed the basic stonecutting skills. To split the stone they would place wooden wedges in cracks,
and then by soaking the wedges in water, they would expand and thus split the rocks. Many ancient cultures realized this technique
independently of each other. What makes this Inca stonework especially unique and impressive their ability to cut strangely
trapezoidal shaped rocks and fit them so closely together. The cliché goes, one
can not even stick a knife between two of these stones. The trapezoid is an appropriate design for the Inca, people whom were
not only masters of engineering but also of math and geometry. It isn’t
altogether known how the Inca manages such taught fits, but one of the known ways they produced these results was by placing
one stone atop another and removing it. After removing the top stone, they would note spots on the base stone that had rubbed
against the top. They would then grind away those spots, thus producing a tighter suction cup fit.
The main style of Inca architecture
is based around the simple geometrical beauty and functionality of the trapezoid. Trapezoids are found in nearly all Inca
architecture, whether it be a palace of a small crude buildings.
I chose this particular piece of stonework because
of its metaphorical qualities. It seems to represent Inca architecture as a whole. Its simple strength and subtle beauty match
that of the Inca, who favored clean tight patterns and geometry over excessively decorative architecture.
It is know, as I mentioned earlier, how the Inca
split stones and fit them together tightly, but what is not know is the entirety of the process. How did they actually go
about fitting the puzzle like pieces of rock together? How did the get the pieces to fit together so tightly. I understand how placing one rock on top of another and removing it to see which spots needed to be rubbed
down would help, but how did they get the fit to be air tight?
The image of the Incan stonework researched in
this page was found at http://www.rutahsa.com/incaarch.html.