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INKA ARCHITECTUREINKA ARCHITECTURE, Less is More--Much More! Ar. Navdeep Shukla
Inca architecture is widely known for its fine masonry, which features precisely cut and shaped stones closely fitted without mortarThe most common composite form in Inca architecture was the kancha, arectangular enclosure housing three or more rectangular buildings placedsymmetrically around a central courtyardOllantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Perusome 60 kilometers northwest of the city of Cusco Ar. Navdeep Shukla &Ar. Shruti H. Kapoor
The citadel of Machu Picchu, with Huayna Picchu in the background
The buildings areMATERIAL made out of local grey-white granite. The quality of the stonework varies considerably, and not simply because sacred buildings always displayed greater craftsmanship than residential and other mundane buildings. The largest, megalithic blocks and finest stonework are always found in the lower levels of the buildings. As at other sites, certain structures, or parts of them, undoubtedly predate the Incas.
Inca walls had numerous design details that helped protect them against collapsing in an earthquake. Doors and windows are trapezoidal and tilt inward from bottom to top; corners usually are rounded; inside corners often incline slightly into the rooms; and ―L‖-shaped blocks often were used to tie outside corners of the structure together. These walls do not rise straight from bottom to top but are offset slightly from row to rowPart of the Enclosure of the Ten Niches.
The largest stone in the Wall of the Six Monoliths is about 4.3 m high, 2.1 m wide, 1.8m thick, and weighs about 50 tonnes. The six monoliths are joined with narrow filletstones – a style found nowhere else in the Inca empire
Ollantaytambo bath of the princess StevageDetail of drainage canal at the side ofthe dry moat, stone nail which wasused to tie the straw roofs, holesthrough which removable doors weresecured
Placement of these trapezoidal openings was primarilyfunctional, but occasionally, Esthetic arrangement mightdominate the placement of the trapezoids, if there was noconflict with functionality.
Playful handling of flowing water.Sparkling streams cascade from stonespouts, sometimes decorated withcarved designs, into joyfully splashingbasins, then flow through quiteunnecessarily complex stone channelsto pour into the next fountain (or bath,as the fountains are sometimes referredto) and so on from fountain to fountain,one after the other. The Inkas employedthe sight and sound of water as anelement of architectural design andevidently enjoyed demonstrating theirmastery over the course of thisessential fluid.
Stone was cut and shaped mainly with stone tools. Bronze or copper tools mayalso have been used, but would be of limited use with the hard varieties ofigneous rock commonly used by the Inca. The row of narrow holes forming the line along which it was to be split seem to bespeak the use of a metal tool.
The conquistadores admired Inka stonework sufficiently to employ Inkastonecutters and techniques in colonial buildings, and many of the "ancientInka" walls in Cusco belong to the colonial period, such as this wall withcarved snakes and stones in non-Incaic shapes.
It is assumed the Inkas knew the technique of splitting rock using wooden wedges placed in cracks, then soaked in water, until the expanding wood split the rock-- a method developed independently by many ancient societies."Peck marks" or, more properly, percussion marks are obvious on muchInka stonework.
The Inkas could also drill holes through rock, such as in this ring of unknown function projecting from a wall in Machu Picchu. Holes were probably drilled using grit and some sort of pestle stone.Holes drilled through rock are narrowest in the middle and flare outwards, asdrilling with a pestle and grit would inevitably wallow out the first-drilledportions of the hole.
Twelve cornered stoneThe glory of Inka stonecutting lies in their ability to cut unusual shapesand fit them tightly together, as exemplified by the famous "twelve-cornered stone" found in a wall of the palace of the Inka Roca. It is both acliché and a verity that the stones are so closely fitted that a knife bladecannot be jammed between them. How did they achieve these amazingclose tolerances?
Inkas used a technique known as scribing and coping to fit their wonderful jigsaw-puzzle stones This technique is used to shape dove-tail joins of logs at the corners of log cabins, resulting in logs carefully fitted together with little or no gap between the cut log faces. A related technique could have been used by the Inkas to shape their stones. The fact that ‗Inca‘ walls tend to incline inwards by 3° to 5° also contributes to their stability.
For administrative buildings and noble houses, medium rocks, and for fortresses and religious sites, enormous ones. In both cases the rocks were carved completely and not only on their outer edge, to ensure that the joints were perfect, and that not even a pin could go through them. This also ensured that the construction would last in time.Some Inca buildings were constructed using mortar, but by Inca standardsthis was quick, shoddy construction, and was not used in the building ofimportant structures. Peru is a highly seismicland, and mortar-freeconstruction was more earthquake-resistant than using mortar. The stones ofthe dry-stone walls built by the Incas can move slightly and resettle withoutthe walls collapsing.
View of the residential section of MachuPicchu.
Interior of a partially restored Inca building, featuringtrapezoidal windows.
Temple of the sun ,the only circular building, with ritual meaning inMachu Picchu
Utilization of land ,caves, rocks and steep slopes of the Andes intheir favor
Trapezoidal niches, typical of Inca style ,in the so called house of thepriest located by the temple of the sun
Tambo Machay, a site for ritual bathing, consists of massive stone walls with elegantniches, band a series of water fountains cascading from channels hidden within thestructure.
Walls were constructed through a numberof different techniques which could rangefrom clay packed around a wooden framethrough to stone blocks and bricks heldtogether by mortar.
These techniques had different names such as Opus Mixtum, Opus Reticulatumor Opus Incertum. The different techniques were used according to preference ofthe particular age, availability of materials, aesthetic result and of coursestructural function. Roman Etruscan walls Roman wall built in "opus reticulatum"
Walls: OPUS QUADRATUM : Rectangular blocks of stone secured with dowels OPUS INSERTUM : Good mortar of lime & sand , Stones arranged in a loose pattern with small size stone Like a polygonal wall OPUS RETICULATUM : Pattern was regular & defined. Stones were at fixed lines, each square in shape
Opus quadratum was the method of building walls, roads, and bridges by placing cut stone blocks in close proximity, sometimes without mortar or another binding substance. The Latin term translates roughly as square workOpus quadratum is an ancient roman construction technique, in whichsquared blocks of stone of the same height were set in parallel courses,often without the use of mortar
Opus quadratumWalls of cut stone, rectangular in form
Opus IncertumUsing irregular shaped and random placed uncut stones or fist-sized tufa blocksinserted in a core of opus caementicium, used from the beginning of the 2ndcentury B.C, later superseded by opus (quasi) reticulatumThe term literally means "uncertain work," possibly referring to the irregularappearance of walls built using this technique.Small, irregularly shaped pieces of stone — about 4 inches (about 100 millimeters)in diameter — were used for opus incertum.
Opus CraticiumTerm both used for wattle work and walls of half-timer construction, filled inwith stones and/or straw and plastered with mortar
Opus (quasi) ReticulatumSmall square tufa blocks placed diagonally to form a diamond-shaped mesh pattern,often supplemented by other materials at frames of windows and doors or atreinforments at corners of buildings with oblong tufa blocks
Opus Testaceum / latericiumBrick faced masonry - kiln-backed bricks; the dominant technique throughout theimperial period
Opus (retilatum) mixtumMasonry of reticulated materialreinforced and/or intersected by brickbands or interlocked with bricks
Opus vittatumOblong (or occasionally square) Tufa blocks intersected by one or more brick bandsat regular distances
Opus SectileDecoration patterns and figures at walls (and floors) with precisely cut pieces ofpolychrome stone, usually marble
Opus spicatumWalls (and floors) made of quite small elongated tiles, laid in a fishbonepattern
Opus SigninumWaterproof floor- and wall-revetment ofmortar mixed with terracotta shreds andcrushed tiles or bricks