During our first weekend trip away from Cuzco, we visited various Incan ruins such as Sacsayhuamán and Puca Pucara before staying the night in the town of Pisac. I soon learned that the location we were staying that night was not in fact the original Pisac, but rather a new town built based on the old town of Pisac located higher above in the mountains. After visiting the old town Pisac, I found it incredible that ancient Incans built a town at such high elevations on the peaks of mountains. In class Profe even told us that the unique architecture of old town Pisac is comparable to building a town at the top of Machu Picchu. If the Incans successfully achieved near complete isolation through old town Pisac in the high mountains, then why create a new town?
There most likely exists many historical answers (which I have not researched), but one of the simplest answers that comes to my mind is the Incan’s use of space and land. By choosing to build a town in the mountains, the Incans did achieve isolation to practice their traditions, however, this location does not lend itself well to many other practical purposes. During the Spanish invasion, a town built on top of mountains can’t be defended and therefore it is simply more practical to create a new town lower in more of a mountain valley. The contrast in locations of the old town Pisac and the new town Pisac describes the Incan use of space and more specifically, how war and foreign invasion can influence a people’s decision to settle in certain locations.
While currently living in the new town of Pisac, our guide Javier, told us he still feels strong ties to the old town Pisac. When visiting the old town in the mountains, Javier shared with our group that he regularly comes to old town Pisac to practice certain religious ceremonies and pay his respects to his ancestors. The specific manner in which Javier referred to the founders of old town Pisac as “mis abuelos” displays how close he feels to his Incan ancestors. Despite relocating to new town Pisac, one can say that the old town of Pisac has not lost its value in the hearts of Incan descendants like Javier.