Puquios and Aqueducts in the Central Andes of South America

Authored by: Kevin Lane

Underground Aqueducts Handbook

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498748308
eBook ISBN: 9781315368566
Adobe ISBN:


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Although the existence of the puquios has been known for a long time (Barnes and Fleming 1991:54), it has been notoriously difficult to date them precisely. These difficulties are further compounded for pre-industrial and pre-literate societies, given that records of their original construction are nonexistent. In the case of the subterranean aqueducts of the Andes, it is possible that we are dealing with at least two distinct sets of these type of technologies. These two sets share commonalities in design and function but seem to have been constructed at different moments in time. As mentioned previously, the puquios of the Andes separate themselves into three main groups—Central Andean, Nasca, and South Andean—with four isolated outliers. Of these all, excepting the Nasca group would seem to have been built by the Spanish (Barnes and Fleming 1991:51–55, 56), to supply water to various settlements and for agriculture—Santa Valley, Paucartambo, Central Andean group, and South Andean group (part)—or for use in the mining industry—South Andean group (part), Huancavelica, and Potosí. The only exception to this group are the Nasca group puquios, which probably included the one recorded by Uhle (1914:5) in the adjacent Ica Valley.

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