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Passages between Worlds: Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld in the Andean Cosmos
Throughout the ancient Andean world there are architectural references to the three worlds and the means for traveling between them. The first people to visit Peru probably arrived by sea and ascent from one world to the next was a geographic imperative. The underworld is represented by the ocean itself, sunken circular plazas, caves sometimes with niches for mummies, and labyrinths. The heavens are represented by summits of pyramids, mounds, and high of peaks. Metaphorical passages between worlds are evidenced by monumental stairways and carved non-functional stairs associated with huacas. In the Inca empire, real passages involved climbing of some of the highest peaks of the Andes, the construction of ceremonial structures on their summits.