Pururaucas: When the god Viracocha turned stones into soldiers

The Andean legend tells of a unique battle where, when the Incas were outnumbered, they invoke their highest deity Viracocha, who responds by turning rocks into soldiers. In this article, we will put the myth in light of the ancient astronaut hypothesis. Could the “rock soldiers” be a weapon used by the Inca god himself to save his people?


The conflict of the Incas with the Chancas is perhaps the best known and decisive episode in its history. It was in 1438 that the Hanan Chanca leader Anccu Hualloc gathered more than 40,000 men of war and undertook the conquest of Cusco, destroying everything in its path until it surrounded the city.

It is said that the Inca ruler Hatun Tópac (Huiracocha Inca) and his son, the crown prince Urco, fled cowardly from the capital, abandoning the Cusco people to their fate before the imminent arrival of the powerful Chanca army. Anarchy reigned then until the young prince Cusi Yupanqui (Pachacútec Inca), Urco’s younger brother and second in succession, courageously led the resistance.

Pachacutec Inca statue, Cusco, Peru. 
See in Google Maps ).

Cusi Yupanqui recruited some neighboring ethnic groups to defend the city from the large enemy army, but no one wanted to join them more than the ethnic group of the Canas. In the face of this adversity, the prince went in his prayers to the creator god Viracocha Pachaychachi, who finally appears to him in a dream and tells him that he will send soldiers to assist him in the unequal fight, in addition to promising him an overwhelming victory.

One day after the dream, the Chancas are stationed on Carmenca Hill, looking towards what they thought would be an easy conquest. The battle is imminent between the invaders and the defenders of the city. And it is at this moment when the unthinkable happens: the surrounding stones are transformed into warriors who attack the Chancas at their discretion, knocking them back.

As the god Viracocha had promised the prince, the Incas – motivated by this “divine act” – win the battle and, once their mission is accomplished, the mysterious lithic soldiers return to their original form.
Later, several of the rocks that had “come to life” would be taken to different temples and worshiped as huacas (idols).

The glory of Viracocha

So far the legend. Orthodox historians believe that the stone soldiers, called  pururaucas , were only part of a cunning ploy that consisted of disguising rock mounds as soldiers and locating them in such a way that the Chancas thought that the Incas were more numerous. Others affirm that many of the ethnic groups that at first refused to participate in the conflict, waited to observe that side gained advantage on the battlefield to join it, thus giving the impression of having come out of nowhere, from the rocks themselves.

However, perhaps these interpretations will remain small if you consider the military power of the Chancas and the nature of the god Viracocha.

According to alleged Inca sources, the Hanan Chancas were very fierce at the time of the fight, when they captured the enemy they made him a prisoner of war. They gave them cruel punishments to demonstrate to the enemy that they should not mess with them; they scalped them, that is, while the prisoners were still alive, they tore off their skin, hung them upside down so that the blood concentrated in the upper part of the body, and made small cuts in the front of their toes, that’s where they started to tear off the skin little by little, while the prisoner yelled in terror. Another form of intimidation consisted of making cups from the skulls of the prisoners, where they drank the blood of the enemies.

The Chancas had the feline as a deity and used to paint their faces and scream in fights.

Taking into account such a bloodthirsty level on the part of the Chancas, it is difficult to even imagine that they were frightened by stones disguised as soldiers or that they fled in terror at any surprise attack from another ethnic group that, mathematically, would not have been able to potentially surpass their army. .

As for Viracocha, an “instructor god” —who can find interesting parallels with Kukulcán (Mayan), Quetzalcóatl (Aztec), Oannes (Sumerian), among others— is described as “the Maker” and, at the same time , as a —more mundane— «mythical hero». He is also known as the “god of the staffs” or “of the rods”, because he carried one of these objects that, if we stick to the legends and representations, perhaps it could be or be used as a weapon.

The chronicles relate that Viracocha “was a man of medium height, white and dressed in a white garment in the manner of a girdled body, and he carried a staff and a book in his hands.” 
Photo: Viracocha relief in Puerta del Sol, Tiahuanaco.

According to the historian Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa , there was an occasion when the inhabitants of the town of Caxha decided to kill Viracocha, annoyed by his “clothing and his strange bearing”:

«They had already taken up arms against him, when, when Viracocha knew of his evil intentions, he knelt in a flat place, and raised his folded hands and looked at the sky; and from above it rained fire on those who were on the mountain and burned the whole place; earth and stones burned like straw. Terror seized the evil persecutors before that dreadful fire, and they rushed to where Viracocha was, throwing themselves at his feet in demand of grace.

«Viracocha, won by compassion, went to the fire and put it out with his staff. But the mount was burned and the stones themselves had become so light as a result of the enormous heat of the fire, that a man could now easily carry some that normally could not have transported a car, which can be seen today. And it is a marvelous thing of this place and mount, that everything has been devastated in a quarter of league; it is in the province of Collao ».

A staff capable of mastering the elements of nature at will? Is it, perhaps, a staff as powerful as the one that Moses used to invoke  Yavhé and that he intercedes for his people devastating Egyptian lands with frightful plagues ?

As the god of the Hebrews, Viracocha was able to have his chosen people in the Incas and protect them from the Chancas with a technology capable of levitating the stones and using them as projectiles. It is logical to think then that the bloody chancas fled when they witnessed this “magic” that exceeded not only their military capacity but also their capacity for understanding.

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