Jessica has a master's degree in history with a focus on ancient and classical civilizations.
Place and Purpose
Do you have a special place for traditions or rituals in your culture or religion? Perhaps where a rite of passage might be celebrated, or a wedding, or simply to worship? The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu served a special purpose to the ancient Incans.
The Temple of the Sun, or Templo Del Sol, was a sacred temple built by the Inca for ceremonies to pay tribute and give offerings to the sun.
The sun was a vital part of Incan life, considered to be responsible for the creation of all things, therefore this temple was off limits to the common people. Only sacred priests were allowed inside.
The Incas used the Temple of the Sun to pay tribute to the sun itself and various gods, including Viracocha, the creator god. Viracocha, was worshiped by the Incas as the god of the sun and storms who created the universe and everything in it, including the sun, moon, and people. Viracocha was golden, represented with the sun as his crown, rain drops as tears, and holding thunderbolts in both hands.
The Temple of the Sun sits on top of a large rocky mountain, as part of the Macchu Picchu archaeological site. It's semi-circular in shape, made of granite stones, with a large door and two windows, one facing north and another facing east.
Some historians refer to it as a 'Torreon' for the December Solstice, although this reference seems to be slightly older and the temple is most commonly referred to as the Temple of the Sun or Templo Del Sol.
The architectural style of the temple is done in the Pachacutec style of the imperial Inca civilization. Pachacutec architecture consists of stones that are meticulously carved, polished smooth, and then fit tightly together with maximum precision. This architectural style is named after the Incan ruler, Pachacutec, who built the Machu Picchu complex in the 15th century.
The architecture is considered today as a major civil engineering accomplishment due to the unique way that the stones were fitted tightly together, while still allowing a small amount of shifting to occur from the expansion and cooling of the stones during weather changes. For this reason, the Machu Piccu complex (including the Temple of the Sun) is well preserved still today.
In the center of the Temple of the Sun is a large altar carved from rock, where the ceremonies and sacrifices could be performed. Underneath the temple is a cave, accessible only from the temple itself, which was believed to have been the burial site of Pachacutec.
Along the back wall of the temple was a 'window' of small holes, believed to have originally held small gemstones, often called the 'window of the serpent' by modern scholars.
Priests used the Temple of the Sun to view the summer and winter solstices from the two windows in the temple. These windows were strategically placed on the north and east sides, and modern scholars theorize that they may have been able to measure the stars and solstices.
Priests would also perform animal sacrifices on the altar, using the hearts or lungs to make predictions about the future, and making offerings to the sun and gods, especially Virachocha.
Priests would also drink chicha here, a ceremonial beer made from maize (corn). Scholars believe that the only purpose of the temple was for religious activities and solar observations, and that these two activities were closely intertwined.
The Temple of the Sun (or Templo del Sol) was a sacred Incan temple built for religious ceremonies and solar observations. Only sacred priests were allowed inside the temple, and they would perform ceremonies and make sacrifices to the Incan sun god, Viracocha and drink chicha, a ceremonial maize beer.
The Temple of the Sun is part of the Machu Picchu archaeological site. It is built in the Pachacutec style of architecture, with stones that are meticulously carved, polished smooth, and then fit tightly together, named after the Incan ruler who built the Machu Picchu site.
The temple was built with granite stones and is semi-circular in shape, with a large door and two windows, one facing north and another facing east to view the winter and summer solstices. Temple of the Sun has a large altar carved from rock in the center for the religious ceremonies and sacrifices.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack