capturing shadows and light
temple of the sun
Kim M. Russell, 18th May 2018
My response to Carpe Diem #1435 – The Temple of the Sun
Today, Chèvrefeuille has told us about the Temple of the Sun or ‘Coricancha’, the most important temple of the Inca Empire, built in the shadows of the Andes. The location of Coricancha in the city of Cusco was very important, having been built at the convergence of the four main highways and connected to the four districts of the empire.
The positioning of the temple in relation to the nearby Andes mountains meant that Coricancha functioned as an enormous calendar. Shadows cast by stones placed on the foothills could be seen from the temple, marking out the solstice and equinoxes observed by the Incan empire.
The temple consisted of four main chambers, each dedicated to a different deity of the moon, stars, thunder and rainbows. Much of Coricancha was filled with gold, with one chamber containing a giant sun disc, reflecting sunlight that illuminated the rest of the temple. The disc was aligned so that during the summer solstice it illuminated a sacred space where only the emperor himself was allowed to sit.