2016 World Monuments Watch
Rumiqolqa is an ancient quarry that was continuously used between the middle of the sixth century and 900, when the Wari rulers erected a second city next to the site. Centuries later, the Incas would build the seat of their empire in Cusco using “royal stone,” basaltic andesite quarried from Rumiqolqa. In the Quechua language, rumi means stone, and qolca means deposit. The site is located within the Pikillaqta Archaeological Park, less than 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Cusco. The archaeological site covers an extensive area and contains more than 500 architectural structures, distributed in different sectors corresponding to different periods of usage. Pre-Columbian remains include cylindrical funerary monuments called chullpas, plazas, stairways, and buildings.
Uncontrolled mining threatens to weaken or damage the historic structures. This mining activity, sometimes aided by the use of dynamite, takes place in the area immediately adjacent to and progressively encroaching on, the archaeological complex. Nearby, the extraction of sand along a stretch of the Vilcanota River by tile manufacturers is causing its channel to widen, moving dangerously close to the foot of the hill where a part of the heritage area is located, and thus increasing the risk of landslides.
The Grupo Patrimonio Qoriorqo, a community group in the adjacent town of Andahuaylillas, seeks to engage the community and other stakeholders in the safeguarding and sustainable development of the ancient quarry, and the 2016 World Monuments Watch supports these efforts. Rumiqolqa presents an important opportunity for the local community to become engaged in the protection of a heritage site, with the aim of reconciling conflicting interests and ensuring the livelihood of the groups whose current economic activity threatens the site. In 2008, a site in Andahuaylillas—San Pedro Apóstol—was included on the World Monuments Watch, leading to the designation of the town as a historic urban center at the national level. With the inclusion of Rumiqolqa on the 2016 Watch, there is a continuing opportunity to extend the concern for the town’s protection to the safeguarding of this distinctive adjacent landscape.
Grupo Patrimonio Qoriorqo, the heritage group that nominated the site to the Watch, organized a series of Watch Day activities in September 2016, starting with guided tours of the site for artists and an art contest for local students the following day. Watch Day activities continued in the nearby town of Andahuaylillas with drawing and poetry contests, presentations, and discussions about Rumiqolqa’s heritage, traditional performances, and the first rock music festival “Rumiqolcarock 2016.” The art exhibition “Rumiqolqa, el despertar de una cantera” was also installed in the town’s auditorium. It featured artists from Cusco and Lima—painters, sculptors, photographers, and more—interested in the protection of the quarry.