Sayhuite (Saywite) is an archaeological site 47 kilometres (29 mi) east of the city Abancay, about 3 hours away from the city of Cusco, in the province Abancay in the region Apurímac in Peru. The site is regarded as a center of religious worship for Inca people, focusing on water.
In the Monuments of the Inca by John Hemming, he points to a colonial narrative that describes the interior of the Sayhuite temple.
An important feature on the site is the Sayhuite monolith, an enormous rock containing more than 200 geometric and zoomorphic figures such as reptiles, frogs, and felines.
Found at the top of a hill named Concacha, the stone was sculpted into the likeness of a topographical hydraulic model, complete with terraces, ponds, rivers, tunnels, and irrigation channels. The functions or purposes of this mysterious relic are not known, but researcher Dr. Arlan Andrews believes that this monolith was used as a scale model to design, develop, test, and document the properties of water flow for public water projects, and to instruct ancient engineers and technicians in the concepts and practices of the craft.
The rock was “edited” several times with new material, either altering the paths of the water or adding new paths altogether.About two meters long, and four meters wide, this monolith is the most popular attraction on the archaeological site.
While the creators of this monolith remain a mystery, it is significant as it provides archaeologists insight into the culture of past peoples. Through further analysis, archaeologists have determined that the Sayhuite site was a religious center for the Incan people.
It is most likely that these people held rituals and ceremonies for the general worship of water at this site. The monolith is an important factor in this discovery, as it depicts a water-like flow between the carvings. It is also speculated, by modern day engineers, that the monolith is a depiction of the irrigation system present within the culture of the Incan people. While the precise meaning of this stone remains unsolved, its importance will always stay the same.
The monolith is a part of the material culture of the Incan people, and helps archaeologists piece together how they lived and why they lived this way. Understanding the Incan culture from an archaeological perspective aids in archaeologists applying this knowledge to similar civilizations and finding links between ancient cultures, conducive with high-range theory of archaeological thought.
The monolith is a popular site for tourists, due to its abnormally large size and intricate carvings. Tourists enjoy the feeling of awe and wonder as they view the monolith, a remnant of a significant ancient Incan culture. A possible explanation of the intricate carvings is that it depicts a religious ritual, perhaps associated with water, performed by the Incan people.
Encouraging tourists to check out this monolith is important as it raises awareness about the archaeological record and urges the general public to get involved in the preservation of material culture. It is crucial that the general public understands the significance of preservation of archaeological sites, so as to prevent looting and vandalism. In addition, it is important that the general public is educated on archaeological findings, such as this one, so that they begin to understand past peoples and how they lived the way that they lived.
In this understanding, present day peoples can begin to apply that knowledge to everyday life. In doing so, we as a general population become more educated on issues of culture and become more open minded and caring individuals.
Preserving the site of Sayhuite and the monolith is crucial, because archaeology is a destructive process. In addition, looting is a common problem at archaeological sites and can hinder the analysis performed by archaeologists of past peoples and culture.
Preserving the archaeological site of Sayhuite includes leaving parts of the site unexcavated and protecting the monolith from vandalism and erosion. To protect the archaeological site from vandalism and looting, education of the general public is crucial. This creates ways for the public to get involved in a significant part of history and raises awareness for the importance of preservation in the field of archaeology.
Preserving the site allows for a chance for new technological advances, which would aid in archaeologists’ study of the site and could possibly help them understand the meaning of the monolith to a greater extent and with more accuracy.