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/toward Cuzco I discovered a section of stone wall built of

i roughly finished stones more or less carefully fitted together

j (fig. 2). At first sight this wall appeared to have been built to

\ prevent further washing away of that side of the gulch. Then

I 1 noticed that above the wall and flush with its surface the bank

I appeared to consist of stratified material, indicating that per-

I haps the wall antedated the gravel deposits.

I Fifty feet up the quebrada another portion of wall appeared.

I Between this and the section first seen the gravel bank some-

I what protruded. On top of the bank was a cultivated field.

In Older to see whether the wall extended behind this gravel

bank, under the field, and whether the two portions were con-

: tinuous, I excavated and found, after half an hour's work on

[ the compact gravel, that there was more wall behind the

Am. Jour. Sci.— Fourth Series, Vol. XXXIII, No. 196.— April, 1912.

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298 //. Bingham — Discovery of Pre'IIistoric

Fig. 1.

Fig. 1. The Cuzco Valley. The upper photograph shows the Saosahuaman
fortress and is panoramic with the left border of the lower photograph, which
shows the Ayahiiaycco qnehradu.

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Human Remains near Cuzco^ Peru. 299

stratified sides of the gulch (fig. 3). The Prefect of Cnzco later
helped me to secure the services of six Indians, with whose aid
we cut through the wall and found it was about three feet

Fig. 2.

Fig. <J. Stratified gravel overlying a buried wjdl in Ayabuaycco

thick and nine feet in height, carefully faced on both sides and
filled in with rubble. As this type of stonework is not uncom-
mon in the foundations of some of the older buildings in the
western part of the city of Cuzco, and as it is usually called by

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300 H, Bingham — Discovery of Pre-Uisioric

the inhabitants Incaic, I was at ones struck by the idea that
this kind of wall must be very much older than we should be
led to suppose by our present ideas of Inca civilization. Such
a thesis would be necessary to account for a wall completely
covered over to a depth of six or eight feet by a compact
gravel bank, a bank later eroded to a depth of ten feet. Fur-

FiG. 3.

Fig. 3. Portion of buried wall after partial excavation.

ther investigation in this part of the gulch revealed numbers
of potsherds and bones.

A few days later I followed the Ayalmaycco queh*ada up
to its head, using a road on its east side. In various places I
was struck by evidences of ancient civilization. Ash-heaps,
recent and ancient, a stone-paved area which may have been a
threshing floor or market place, and numbers of bones and

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Iluman Remains near Cuzco^ Peru. 301

Fig. 4.

Fig. 4. Ayahuaycco quebrada. Profile view of bluff in which vertebrate
remains were found. Cuzco in the middle distance. The man in the fore-
ground is standing in front of the excavation.

potsherds offered a most interesting field for speculation and
study. Ayahuaycco means " tlie cadaver quebrada " or " dead
man's gulch," or ''the valley of dead bodies." There is a

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302 H. Bingham — Discovery of Pre-Historic

tmdition that this valley was once used as a burial place for
plague victims in Cuzco, possibly not more than three genera-

Fio. 5.

Fig. 5. The bone locality before excavation. The projecting femur firBt
discovered lies directly beneath the hammer. Note the stratification from
a point about one foot above the bone down to the base of the bluff.

tions ago. Such a story appears to be well borne out by the
great number of human^ bones that occur in the talus slopes. I
was most anxious to see whether anything could be found defi-
nitely in situ, where the stratification had not been disturbed.

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Unman Remains nea?* Cmco. Peru. 303

After proceeding up the valley for more than lialf a mile it
narrowed and the east side, along which I was walking, became
very precipitous (fig. 4). The road had apparently recently
been widened and this made the bank at this place practically
perpendicular. About five feet above the road I saw what at
first looked like one of the small rocks which are freely inter-
spersed throughout the compact gravel of this region. Some-

FiG. 6.

Fig. 6. The vertebrate remainB after partial excavation. The photograph
shows the long narrow lense of vertebrate material and the jumbled state of
the bones. The faUen end of the femar, in the lower left-hand comer, was
originally in the stratum which the other bones occupied.

thing about it led me to examine it more closely, and I then
recognized that it was apparently the end of a human bone,
probably a femur (fig. 5).

I was at once so impressed by the possibilities, in case it
should turn out to be true that this was a human bone and had
been buried centuries ago under seventy-five or a hundred
feet of gravel, that I refrained from disturbing the bone until
I could get the geologist and the naturalist of the Expedition
to witness its excavation. Professor Isaiah Bowman, who had
already made studies in the Central Andes, and was the geolo-
gist-geographer of the Expedition, was at this time only a few
days away making a preliminary study of the Anta basin. On
his return to Cuzco rrofessor Bowman was requested to make
a physiographic study of the gulch in which the human remains
had been found. The results of his study are presented in a

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304 //. Bingham — Discovery of Pre-IIistoric

Fig. 7.

Fig. 7. Looking squarely at the face of the bluff. The bones were col-
lected from the excavation between the men at the foot of the hill.

separate article following tliis. Our topographer, Mr. Kai
Hendriksen, made a detailed map of the gulch and a rough

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Human Remains near Cmco, Peru. 305


sketch map of the vicinity of Cuzco, sliowing the relation of the
gulcli to the well-known ruins in the neighborhood. These
maps are also included in the present number (Plates I and II).

On the afternoon of July 11 Professor Bowman and I exca-
vated the femur and found behind it fragments of a number
of other bones. These we took out as carefully as possible.
They were excessively fragile. The femur was unable to sup-
port four inches of its own weight, and after that much had been
excavated the exposed end fell off (fig. 6). The gravel was some-
what damp but could hardly be called moist. The bones were
dry and powdery. It is difficult to describe their color. Perhaps
" ashy grey " is as near as anything. The end of the femur,
first seen, was so like the pebbles as to be distinguished from
them only with the greatest difficulty.

Professor Foote was asked to photograph the wall, portions
of the gulch, and the location of the bones, before, during and
after the process of excavation. The accompanying illustra-
tions were nearly all taken by him (fig. 7).

The bones were carried to our hotel, where they were again
photographed, soaked in melted vaseline and then packed in
cotton batting. On my return to the States in December, the
bones were submitted to Dr. George F. Eaton, curator of
osteology in the Peabody Museum, for examination. His
report is also presented herewith (p. 325).

It was a keen disappointment that we were not able to
spend more time in Cuzco. Notwithstanding my great inter-
est in these prehistoric human remains, I felt that it was wiser
to carry out the plans originally adopted for the Expedition,
although that meant a hurried departure from Cuzco without
doing more than is shown by the results presented herewith.
It seems to me extremely desirable to continue the work of
exploration and excavation in and about Cuzco, for it is highly
probable that important data bearing on Inca and pre-Inca
civilization may be obtained here.


Plate I. Cuzco and Environs.

a : The Cathedral, b : La Coinpania. c : La Merced, d : San Fran-
cisco, e : Santa Clara. / : Hospital, g : Santa Ana. h : Santo Domingo.

Intersection of arrowe in upper left hand comer indicates location of bone
deposit in Ayahuaycco Quebrada. Altitudes based on railroad survey.
Contour interval 20 ft. Shaded area ; present limits of the city of Cuzco.

Plate II. Ayahuaycco Quebrada.

BM 1 : Bench mark about 100 ft. west of excavation where human and
other bones were found on roadside at base of high bluff. BM 5 : Bench
mark near talus slopes, containing many bones and potsherds. BM 6 : Paved
area. BM 7 : Recent ash heaps. BM 8-9-10 : Location of buried wall.
WT : Water tank, g : Santa Ana church.

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306 Bowman — Geologic Relations of the Cuzco liemains.

Akt. XX VII. — (Part II) The Geologic Relations of the Cuzco
Remains ;* by Isaiah Bowman.

Historic Cuzco lies at the head of one of the most beautiful
interiiiontane valley-basins in the Central Andes. The broad
flat basin floor is deeply cloaked with land waste which also
extends well up the bordering slopes and the tributary valleys.
High mountains rim about the basin like a gigantic wall and
their slopes in a few places lead up to summits snow-covered
durinff the southern winter. The upper grass-covered slopes
are the home of mountain shepherds who find in the other-
wise unoccupied lands of their bleak territory ample room
for their flocks and herds. Upon the lower slopes of the
mountains the agricultural Indian breaks a tough sod here and
there and plants his cliief vegetable, the potato. Farther
down, on the fringe of alluvium, are grain fields, potato
patches, and bright green alfalfa meadows — almost all irrigated
land, intensively cultivated, and supporting a dense popula-

The Cuzco basin (fig. 1) is about fifteen miles long. Its
width varies from a few hundred yards at the narrow lower
outlet of the basin to several miles a little below Cuzco. The
floor of the basin is from 11,000 to 11,500 feet above sea level.
Dozens of small streams rising in the surrounding highlands
follow steep irregular courses and furnish water to the irriga-
tion ditches. Among these the Iluatanay and the Tulumayu are
the most important. All of tliese streams bear down quantities
of land waste (now much less than formerly) and all nave dis-
sected the marginal belt of alluvium and even the alluvial floor
of the basin, which they formerly built up. Therefore at some
time in the recent geologic past the streams of the basin have
changed from aggrading to degrading agents.

It is in one of the ravines cut into the bordering alluvium that
the gravel deposits are exposed in which the Cuzco man was
found.f The present city extends up to the mouth of the
mviiie as shown in fig. 4. The lower ravine appears to have
been occupied by man for a long time. Several feet from the
surface and interstratitied with the surface material are artificial
beds of wood ashes alternating with thin yellowish-brown lay-
ers of sand and gravel. It appears that when the present
slopes were being fashioned, and before erosion had gashed the
alluvium, man inhabited the region and that he has witnessed

* I am iDdebted to Professors Schuchert, Gregory, BarreU, LuU, and
MacCurdy, for criticisms.

f For an acconnt of the discovery by Professor Bingham see the preceding

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Bowman — Geologic Relations of the Ouzco liemains. 307

tlie change from an aggrading to a degrading surface. A
buried wall, the subject of another paper,* points in the same
direction. Far up the slopes of uninhabited though still cul-
tivated spurs one may find these ash beds, and mingled with
them are bones of many kinds, shells, charred corn and quiQa,
and bits of broken pottery. Though the relations of this sort
of material to the surface in every place indicate that man has
long been an inhabitant of the region, no antiquity can be
claimed for any of that examined during the work of the
present expedition, for it all lies buried in but five or six feet
of material. It is, however, equally well stratified and shows
that the earliest ash and charcoal material was accumulated
while alluviation was still going on. This should not, however,
be confused with the strong alluviation of the glacial period.
The ash material is interstratified with lower, younger, and
thinner alluvium whose lowermost layers may be not more
than a few thousand years old.

Evidences of man's existence in the Central Andes in late
glacial or early post-glacial time were reported by the writer
several years ago.f From the position of certain abandoned
trails and ruined corrals in the Huasco basin and from the
nature of associated strand lines and terraces, it is certain that
man lived in the region in early times and that he was contem-
poraneous with a large lake where there arc at present only a
few scattered ponds and marshes. We have now from the
Cuzco basin the actual remains of man found embedded in
gravels of still earlier date. The following paragraphs deal
with the geologic and geographic character of tne gravel beds
in point. If their age can be fixed we shall also be able to tell
the age of the remains interstratitied with them.

Summary of Results,

A brief summary of the chief features of the case will serve
to guide the reader in his interpretation of the details of the

The bones found near Cuzco were contemporaneous with the
compact gravels in which they were embedded. They were
disposed m the form of a lense about 10 feet long and 6 inches
thick. From (1) their disposition with respect to each other,
(2) their relations with the oedding planes, and (3) their worn
condition, it is concluded that they were interstratified with the
gravel beds. The age of the beds thus becomes the critical
factor in the interpretation. From a detailed study of the

* A. buried waU at Gqzco : Its climatic significance and its relations to
the qnestion of a Pre-Inca Race.

t Isaiah Bowman, Man and Climatic Change in South America, Qeog.
Journ. (London), March, 1909, pp. 268-278.

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308 Bowman — Geologic Relations of the Cuzco Hemains.

geology of the upper Cuzco basin with special reference to
glacisH forms, it is concluded (1) that the beds belong to a
glacial series, (2) that tlie bones were deposited during a period
of pronounced alluviation, and (3) that since the deposition of
the bones from 75 to 150 feet of gravel were deposited over
them and later partly eroded. The age of the vertebrate
remains may be pro visioji ally estimated at 20,000 to 40,000

The weaknesses of the case lie in the following facts : (1)
Certain vertebrate remains* found associated with the human
bones may be referred to bison, but they are not sharply dif-
ferentiated from the bones of modern cattle. Bison remains
have not been found eitlier in other places in the Centml
Andes or elsewhere in South America. The distinctions
between these fragmentary bones and those of modern cattle
are not sufficiently well-marked to enable one to say absolutely
that they could not be bones of domesticated cattle. Further-
more, certain canine bones gathered in connection with the
human remains cannot be said to be unlike those of the
modern domesticated dog. While both these pieces of evidence
are negative in character and do not actually disprove the case,
they raise wholesome doubts that can not be dispelled save by
further field work, especially excavation. (2) In the second
place, there is one untested possibility and until that test is
applied the case cannot be said to be proved absolutely. It is
within the limits of possibility, although it still seems very
unlikely, that the bluff in whicli the bones were found may be
faced by younger gravel and that the bones were found in a
gravel veneer deposited during later periods of partial valley
filling. Until excavation is carried on, the interpretation must
rest, not upon all the facts, as X, but upon X-1 facts. Indeed
excavation may show that the facts in hand are really X-2 or
X-3 in number.


In determining the age of buried human remains account
must be taken of two guiding principles :

(1) The remains and the beds in which they are found must
be proved to be contemporaneous.

(2) The age of the beds must be determined by independent

The possibility of landslips, of recent changes in the beha-
vior of streams, and of burial by human hands or by ani-
mals, must be considered in minutest detail. This is forced

♦ For both the nature of the vertebrate material and the characteristics
of the individual bones see the report by Dr. George F. Eaton in this number
of the Journal (p. 825).

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Boioman — Geologic Relations of the Citzco Remains, 309

upon one not only by the rigid demands of scientific method
but also because failure to collect and interpret all data bearing
on the problem may lead to unsatisfactory conclusions and has
in fact cast doubt on the authenticity of one after another of
the reported discoveries of human remains. It is, therefore,
essential that the structure and composition of the deposits,
the conditions of burial, and the physiographic history of the
region be discussed in detail.

If human remains were common in hard rock of Tertiary or
Cretaceous age the case would be quite different. The in-
durated rock would show such clear signs of disturbance in
case of burial as to leave no one in doubt : the lapse of time
after deposition would be so great that a certain degree of
fossilization would have resulted ; morphological differences
between the buried bones and the bones oi existing forms
would be distinguishable ; associated fossils would supply col-
lateral evidence as to age. But in America the conditions are
far from this ideal. Human remains are always reported from
loose surface material ; if the material is gravel the question of
stratification arises; even if the remains areinterstratified they
show no prominent variations from existing types ; and in
almost all cases no other fossils accompany the remains to
throw light upon their geologic relations.

Interstratification of Boxes and Gravel.

The coarse gravels in which the Ouzco man was found are
rudely stratified in places; in other places they are very
markedly stratified. The stratification at the precise locality
where the bones lay was coarse though the pebbles range in
size from a pea to a walnut and are mixed with ordinary yellow
quartz sand. The bones themselves formed part of a stratum
of slightly finer material, and occurred in the form of a layer
about ten feet long and six inches thick (fig. 6). Stratification
within the limits of the six-inch layer was observed. It shows
clearly in the photograph, fig. 6.

Not only were the gravels about and within the six-inch
layer disposed in a stratified manner but the bones themselves
were in positions signifying natural deposition by water rather
than artificial deposition through human burial. With refer-
ence to a vertical plane they lay in a jumbled state ; all were
essentially flat with reference to a horizontal plane. One rib
lay at the extreme right end of the ten-foot limit, another at
the extreme left. Mixed with the human remains were bones
of a bison, a wolf, and a llama. There can be no question of
the plain facts in the case as regards interstratification.

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310 Bowman — Geologic Relations of the Cmco Remains.

We must now consider the possibility of landslip. A block
of gravel may slide by slow degrees from the top of a bluflE
and come to rest at the foot with stratification intact and with
a dip in conformity with that of the beds in the undisturbed
parent mass. In such a case it is evident that (1) between the
disturbed and the undisturbed masses a break will occur and
(2) both the material and the thickness and alternation of the
beds will show marked contrasts on the two sides of the break.
Now the bluff in which the Cuzco man was found is to some
extent ravined and broken by landslips. East of the locality a
series of small slips extend down valley for several hundred feet
with characteristics quite unlike tlie undisturbed condition of
the lense containing the bones. The line of separation between
them and the parent mass is everywhere ragged with botli
horizontal and vertical variations. Material has been dragged
down from an upper surface and is exposed to view near the
bottom of the ravine. Such material exhibits recent unfos-
silized shells, even human bones and pieces of broken pottery,
carbonized wood and corn, and the ashes of old and long-aban-
doned hearths or camp fires.

No one who sees these clear evidences of the displacement
of material by landslips can fail to see the necessity for giving
the mass containing tlie human remains the most rigid exami-
nation. At first sight the immediate surroundings indeed sug-
gest a landslip. Immediately above the stratum containing
the bones was a break in the face of the bluff about four feet
long (tig. 5). It rose in a curved line about two feet above the
layer in which the bones were disposed and suggested the
upper part of a grave, especially as the break exhibited a mould
of organic niaterial. After the excavation work was done, as
much care was exercised in the examination of this break as in
the gathering of the bones. Upon excavation of the gravel
along the line of the break and forward from it two facts were
discovered : (1) the break extended downward but a few inches
and merged into hard undisturbed material in which the bed-
ding planes ran apparently without interruption from within
the main gravel mass to the outer edge of the bluff ; (2) the
mould consisted principally of a fungous growth mixed with
a few species of licliens.

At first the mould-covered njaterial seemed quite out of
harmony with the undisturbed structure of the gravel beneath
it, but when a larger area of bluff face had been examined a
clear explanation was afforded quite apart from the idea of a
grave. Anywhere along the faces of these gravel bluffs one
may find the same material disposed in tlie same way. The
break afforded an oi)portunity for the display of the mould but
was in no way related to it. I'^i)on the outermost surface of

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Bowman — Geologic Relations of the Ctiseo Remains. 311

the bluff was an earthy coating deposited from the clouds of
dust raised by the feet of passing flocks and caravans. The
same gray-yellow appearance is exhibited upon all surfaces not
recently eroded. Upon removing the thin surface of such a
bluff one comes upon what might be called an under surface
somewhat like the under layer oi skin on the human body and
upon or in this are countless hosts of fungi. Their branching
filaments or hyphae ramify through every pore ; by scraping
away the surface carefully one may exhibit a great area of
fungous-covered gravel. Beyond the outer film of material

Fig. 8.

riat -topped spur

Vertebrate remaii

Fig. 8.* Topographic profile of ravine in which the vertebrate remains
were found. Compare with figs. 1, 4, 7, and 9, Scale : 1 inch = 200 feet,
vertical and hoiizontal. Shaded area represents bed rock exposed in tribu-
tary ravine. Degrees indicate declivity of ravine slopes at different eleva-

one comes in turn upon the yellow unmodified gravel free
from dust and fungi. The linear distance from the face of
the bluif to the undisturbed material is never more than two
or three inches and generally but a half inch to an inch.

The structure of the main mass of material in which the
bones were deposited may be observed in a ravine but fifty
feet west of the bone locality. The unbroken character of the
mass, its stratified condition, the fact that it lies as it was
deposited witli moderate inclination of tlie material down-
valley, its smooth upper surface (fig. 1), its compact condition,
the entire absence of recent material within the body of the
gravel, — all these are features easy of observation and about
which it would seem there could never be any question either
as regards the facts or their interpretation.

Across the ravine from the bone locality a tributary gully
extends far into the undisturbed gravels (iig. 9) ; the coarse-
ness of the material, its degree of stratification, and its angle
* For figures 1-7 inclusive see preceding article.

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Online LibraryJohn Elihu HallThe American journal of science → online text (page 31 of 61)