The remote history of Marcahuasi is not known, and even the legendary records are quite thin. There is no extant data on its builders and sculptors.
The first part of this page will walk you through what we know about Marcahuasi history, including the legends about the site.
Daniel Ruzo, who re-discovered the zoomorphic figures of Marcahuasi in the 1950s, named the unknown culture thought to have created the figures, the Masma civilization. This name is based on the name repeated in Astete’s dream, which is described in more detail on this page about Daniel Ruzo’s expedition. Ruzo believed that the Masma culture was destroyed in a catastrophe, perhaps one coinciding with the flood in the Bible and that Marcahuasi was used as an ark to shelter a few people, which would have allowed them to emerge afterward to re-start civilization.
Much later, probably in the early fifteenth century, the Incas turned the plateau into a strategic stronghold at the juncture of two important valleys. The ruins of barracks and burial structures (chullpas) exhibit characteristics typical of other Inca military structures found elsewhere in Peru (Figures 30, 31a and 31b, courtesy of Alex Kornhuber).
Daniel Ruzo describes in detail their architecture and the conflict between the Huancas and the armies sent by the Inca from Cuzco, which resulted in the victory of the latter and the subjugation of the Huancas. Upon arrival of the Spaniards, the Huancas became their allies and exacted their revenge.
Legends about Marcahuasi
The Legend of Huallallo Sculpted the Stone Figures
It is said in the village that the Huanca god, Huallallo, sculpted the figures found on the plateau and that after their people’s defeat, the Incas forced him to work for them in the construction of Sacsahuaman and the Coricancha temple in Cuzco.
The Legend of Lloctacure and Huambo’s Armies Converted to Stone
During one of my longest stays at Marcahuasi, Severiano Olivares (son of Don Manuel) related another legend. Two powerful magicians, Lloctacure and Huambo, made war upon each other and during the final battle, their armies were converted to stone through their magic.
Huambo is the present name of a volcano in Southern Peru near Majes and Lloctacure is a magician mentioned in many Peruvian legends.
For more on this subject, read the manuscript of Huarochiri, which is available translated to English in book form as The Huarochirí Manuscript (translation from Quechua by Frank Salomon and George L. Urioste) and The Extirpation of Idolatry in Peru, by Pablo Joseph de Arriaga (Author), L. Clark Keating (Translator).
The Modern Legend of Marcahuasi UFOs
Taking into account the numerous cultures and ancient monuments and cities being discovered with modern archaeological techniques and the ever increasing age assigned to these, we believe it is totally unnecessary as well as irresponsible to invoke the involvement of aliens and UFOs in Marcahuasi.
This is often done by the more ignorant among its visitors. Unfortunately, these beliefs, which are highly publicized by the tabloids, have discouraged serious researchers from studying the plateau.
A high degree of courage and integrity is required from scientists to study a phenomenon that has been discredited by contemporary cultists.
Ancient and Modern Legend – Marcahuasi Stone Forest Dimensional Door
Marcahuasi has been shrouded in mystery since its rediscovery in the 1950s and many claim that unusual phenomena have taken place there. Some say that somewhere within the Marcahuasi stone forest lies a dimensional door, which was left by an ancient civilization.
Winter / Dry Season Weather
The weather in Marcahuasi can be quite varied depending on the season. During the months of June to September, which is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, it can be extremely cold at night, reaching temperatures below freezing. However, this period is a drier season for Marcahuasi, leading the villagers to call it summer.
Summer / Rainy Season Weather
During the summer rainy season from December to March, there is intense rain as well as very thick fogs.
These extremes are illustrated in Figures 28 (a descent through the cloud in late December) and Figure 29 (courtesy of Alex Kornhuber) in which the clear night sky can be appreciated.
Geology of Marcahuasi
The Marcahuasi volcanic group is composed of pyroclastic rocks containing volcanic ash, pumice and other minerals.
Their age is estimated at 15-20 million years.
This information was reported by the Mines, Metallurgy and Geology Institute of Peru in the GeoTouristic guide of Marcahuasi. Analyses of more than 30 representative samples obtained in our 2014 expedition confirmed this data.
Water in Marcahuasi
San Pedro relies, in part, on the water collection and storage works on the plateau. The location of lagoons across the plateau can be seen as the darkest areas in the aerial photograph shown in Figure 32. Some of these lagoons (cochas) and their dykes are kept in good repair and maintained as cisterns by the villagers (Figures 33-36, courtesy of Alex Kornhuber). Cachu Cachu, the largest of these, located in the southern part of the plateau, is surrounded with sculptures (Figure 37).
We have also identified a system of stone ducts that crisscross the plateau, leading the rainwater to the various cochas (Figures 38-40), providing channels for runoff at the edges of the plateau (Figures 41 and 42), or feeding streams below that are used for irrigation (Figure 43).
The importance ascribed to the water supply is demonstrated in the celebration of the Feast of Waters in San Pedro, before the beginning of the rainy season in early October.
Get in Touch
If you’re as inspired by Marcahuasi as I am, I invite you to explore the site, our data, and to reach out if you have similar research interests.
Daniel Ruzo de los Heros, Marcahuasi : La Historia Fantastica de un Descubrimiento (Editorial Diana, Mexico) 1974. There were five subsequent editions in Mexico y Peru until 2004.
Daniel Ruzo, The Masma Culture (Cultural Extension Program of the Military Academy of Peru). June 30, 1954.
Daniel Ruzo, Los Ultimos Dias del Apocalipsis, (Editorial Iztaccihuatl, Mexico 1970)
Pablo Joseph de Arriaga, La Extirpacion de la Idolatria en el Peru (1621), editado por el Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos, Cuzco, Peru (1999).
Manuscrito de Huarochiri, version bilingue de Jose Maria Arguedas, Biblioteca Nueva, Universidad de Extremadura (2011)