Mystical Places

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Soon after arriving in Peru 23 years ago, I heard about a strange, mystical place in the Andes Mountains, where there were hundreds of stone statues. It was said that Markawasi was ancient, beyond living memory, existing before the Incas, and the pre-Incas. It was related that there were heads and faces of human beings of different races, both male and female, and animal figures unknown on this continent. There were stories of dinosaurs and strange inscriptions carved into the rock; all this on a plateau located 4,000 meters above sea level, less than 100 km from the city of Lima.

There was only one problem: nobody knew how to get there. Finally, after nearly six months of searching, I found a group of students who were willing to guide me to the plateau, and thus began the biggest adventure of my life!

It was not an easy journey. First, one had to ride on a rickety old bus, finally arriving to a tiny village high in the mountains. Here, there were only cheese and potatoes to buy, and only three horses in the whole village, with a few donkeys scattered around. There was no water on the plateau; no hotel, no food, no toilets, no nothing. However, when I finally reached Markawasi, my jaw dropped. My first thought was, “This is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and it’s right at the top of the list!”

Daniel Ruzo, the Peruvian scholar and explorer, discovered the immense carved statues on the Markawasi plateau in 1952, after having seen a photo of what the locals called, “Peca Gasha”, a towering carved monument found on an obscure plateau in the district of Huarochiri. The site had been briefly referenced in 1923 by the Peruvian archaeologist, Julio C. Tello, who termed it, “Markawasi”, giving a brief description of the 12th century ruins, without pointing out, however, the massive sculpted statues. Ruzo spent nine summers investigating the sculptures, maintaining that they dated before the oldest pyramids of Egypt; pre-dating, in fact, the Great Flood of Noah. He labeled it a “proto-historical” site, which he claims existed “anterior to the Sumerians and to all three-dimensional sculptures that fill the European museums!”

The figures at Markawasi are uniquely arranged over a tabletop mesa, 4-1/2 km in length, and one km wide. A three-day trek is the minimum required time to visit all the statues; a week would allow a more thorough visit.