Antediluvian, giant, "gentle" humanity

We continue here the discourse on the Andean tradition, previously addressed in the four articles that we have already published on AXIS mundi [cfr. "Andini notebooks", In Ancient America]. In closing, we will also have the opportunity to make some comparisons with other traditions, including Mexican, Hellenic, Celtic and Norse).

di Marco Maculotti
cover: Machu Picchu, photo by the Author

Closely connected to the doctrine of cycles and of pachacuti [cf. Pachacuti: cycles of creation and destruction of the world in the Andean tradition] is the belief in the existence of ancient proto-human races that populated our planet before the advent of the "Fifth Sun" - races which, as we have seen [cf. Viracocha and the myths of the origins: creation of the world, anthropogenesis, foundation myths], are cyclically eliminated, at the end of each "Great Year", by a catastrophic event, to leave room for the humanity of the next cycle (similar to the Hesiodic myth).

From the Spanish Christian chroniclers the previous humanity were generically referred to gentle, that is to say Gentiles, "pagans without God". The denominations of indigenous cultures vary according to geographic areas: in the language alone Quechua they are called machucuna ("Old"), open ("grandparents"), nawpaq (“Those of the ancient time”) or purun rune ("The people of the wasteland",  “The men of the desert places”, “the savages”) [Polia, p. 71]—That is, the humanity that lived during the purun pacha ("Time of the desolate or wild world"), the time that was the "cycle of the forces of chaos, the time of the giants”And that Poma associates, as we have seen, with the“ Third Sun ”[cf. Pachacuti: cycles of creation and destruction of the world in the Andean tradition].

The manuscript of Huaru Chiri [Postal Code. 5] narrates:

"The men who lived then did nothing but fight and struggle with each other all the time and recognized how curaca [= leaders, lords, authorities] only the strong and the rich. We call them the Purun Runa ".

We also report the testimony of Fernando de Avendano, who in his Sermons on the Mysteries of Our Holy Faith (1649), speaking of the race of killer giants Wari, wrote [cit. in Polia, p. 72]:

“Your ancestors said that there were formerly certain very wicked men as can be seen from their bones on the coast of Manta. Also in the area near Potosí some of their very large bones can be seen. They say they were giants and that fire fell on them for their sins from heaven and burned them and they all died ”.

This story is connected to the episode of Viracocha's meeting with the inhabitants of Cacha, who, guilty of having welcomed him with stones in hand, will be transformed into stone by means of a fiery rain of celestial and supernatural origin; but it is also linked to tradition, also reported by Garcilaso in book IX of his own Commentaries, as well as by Fernando de Montesinos (1642), giants who landed on rafts and canoes in Punta Santa Elena (current Gulf of Guayaquil, today called Puerto Viejo). According to the legends this titanic population, men "very big and tall","sodomites and murderers"Came to such excesses that"divine justice took charge of the punishment and this was accomplished in an instant by means of a fire sent from heaven that burned them". Montesinos adds that [cit. in Polia, p. 73] "in memory of the fact remain the bones that God wanted to keep as a warning to posterity. A shinbone the height of a man can be seen". Similar remains (bones and mummies of "huge giants"Venerated by the Indians) were personally found and burned at the stake by Pablo José de Arriaga, the" extirpator of idolatries "of the seventeenth century.

According to another version of the myth [Rosas, p. 71], two giants who inhabited the peninsula of Santa Elena committed the murder of a large number of natives. One day, "a sparkling young man came down from the sky"("Shining young man”) Who fought them with fire: the signs of the flames, which definitively eliminated the titanic beings, would still be visible today on the rocks of the peninsula.

However, most of the Andean legends collected speak of the destruction of the race of giants, which inhabited the world during the era of the "Fourth Sun" (that is, the one before ours), by means of a flood sent by Viracocha— or from "God", in the Spanish chronicles. This tradition is still alive today. According to the fragments of myths collected by the anthropologist Mario Polia in the Huancavelica area [Polia, p. 76], it is said that the giants had reproduced to such an extent that the land was no longer enough, and they had to build terraces to cultivate the most inaccessible parts of the mountains (as can still be admired today, for example, in the sites of Ollantaytambo and Pisaq in the Sacred Valley of Cusco). Viracocha, irritated by their immorality, first sent a flood, but "they took refuge in the highlands and built their houses up there to hide. The flood could not reach them. Then two suns arose, one from the east and the other from the west, and all those people died. Their race died out". As a last desperate attempt, they tried to escape by digging caves and undergrounds, in which they took refuge, but in the end they perished burned or from the simple terror of the sun.

The Author at the Sacsayhuaman site, Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru.

Sacsayhuaman: the fortress of the titans

Often, when speaking of antediluvian mankind, myths mention their singular ability to work stone and build fortresses (pucara) impregnable. According to tradition [Polia, p. 88] of the populations inhabiting the area of ​​the Checo megalithic center, where over one hundred monoliths of various sizes and shapes lie inflicted on the ground:

“… The Gentiles had lifted and cut down those immense piers. They said that also in Cuzco the temple-fortress of Saqsaywamán, with its huge blocks, was the work of the open, the semi-divine ancestors who made rocks move whipping them, how cattle gather ”.

According to the Royal Commentaries by Garcilaso Inca de la Vega [book VIII, p. 277], on the other hand, the fortress of Sacsayhuaman would have the primacy of the first monumental complex erected in the sacred valley of Qosqo following the arrival of the first "Son of the Sun", Manco Capac. In the opinion of Juan de Betanzos (1551) [Salazar, p. 47] was the Inca Pachacutec, eighth ruler of Tahuantinsuyu, to give the city the shape of a puma. Sarmiento de Gamboa (1572), on the other hand, appoints Tupac Yupanqui, successor of Pachacutec, as the initiator of the megalithic construction.

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From the reading of all the chronicles of the sixteenth century that have come down to us, it emerges that the authors "they could not escape the influence of the aura generated by its presence and they described it in amazement". Martín de Murua (1590) wrote that Sacsayhuaman “It looks like a work of giants or a wall more of nature than of art"[Salazar, p. 50]. The Spanish chroniclers of the time spoke of "Demonic technology”And claimed that only a race of demons he could have built such cyclopean walls, made up of rocks so heavy that they were difficult to transport to certain heights, which matched one another perfectly, some reaching an incredible total of eleven or twelve angles.

A Spanish monk whom Garcilaso mentions told to the author who [Royal Commentaries, book VIII, p. 301] "he would never have credited the natives' tales if he hadn't seen it [the Sacsayhuaman fortress] with her eyes, because imagining her without seeing her is impossible to tell" is that "in reality it seems difficult to explain how such a project was brought to conclusion without the help of the Evil One".

Even the author of the Royal Commentaries, for his part, he wonders ecstatically about the enigmatic technology that could have allowed the construction of this mysterious fortress: comparing it to the seven wonders of the world, he concluded that it is even more shocking in its abnormality. If, in fact, the construction of imposing temples formed by regular stones such as the Pyramids of Egypt can ultimately be explained rationally, according to Sacsayhuaman — points out Garcilaso [Book VIII, p. 302]- the situation is quite different:

"How can we explain the fact that the ancient Peruvians knew how to [work] (...) such huge blocks of stone, indeed more like mountain pieces than building bricks — and that they succeeded, as I have already mentioned, without using any machine or tool? A similar enigma cannot be easily solved except by admitting some recourse to magic ”.

Tambomachay, Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru. Author's photo.

"Cultural mix"

Other monumental complexes of the Sacred Valley that aroused the interest and perplexity of chroniclers and archaeologists are Ollantaytambo, Pisaq, Q'enqo, Pucapucara (according to Garcilaso erected by the third Inca, Lloque Yupanqui) [Garcilaso, book II, p.69], Tambomachay and the famous citadel called Machu Picchu, rediscovered only in the twentieth century and never mentioned in ancient chronicles by Garcilaso and contemporaries. There is who [Honoré, p. 53] defined the architectural works of the ancient Peruvians as "crystallized matter, forced into geometric shapes".

The dr. Javier Cabrera, known for having studied the enigmatic "stones of Ica" in the Paracas region, argued that these cyclopean constructions were related to the ancient civilization of Tiahuanaco [cf. The enigma of Tiahuanaco, cradle of the Incas and "Island of Creation" in Andean mythology], and noted [cit. in Petratu and Roidinger, pp. 104-5]:

"The mighty stone construction of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes, as well as other inexplicable megalithic constructions, such as Sacsayhuaman, Tiahuanaco, Pumu-Mucu [typo for Puma Punku, ed] and so on, are probably works, in their most ancient foundations of this very ancient human race. Buildings erected later with different and smaller rocks are the comparatively simple performance of the Incas and Preincas. I call this process cultural sadness, that is, cultural mixing ".

Already in 1865, the North American archaeologist Squier had hypothesized that in the past of the South American continent there were two highly differentiated cultures: one, which lived in a much more remote past, endowed with a high technological level and one, closer to modern man. , at the time of the Incas and the peoples they conquered [Petratu and Roidinger, p. 180]. To have left the most enigmatic megalithic vestiges, of course, must have been the first settlers: the "gods" and the giants of Andean legends and folklore.

Chavín de Huantar, Northern Peru. Author's photo.

The giants in the Andean folk tradition

The already mentioned Italian anthropologist Mario Polia collected numerous testimonies that demonstrate how this belief in a previous humanity of giants is still particularly alive today in the folklore of farmers andean. An elder from Samanga, near the Condor mountain range, told him that [Polia, p. 70]:

“At the beginning of the world, before men existed, there were giants. They lived in the mountains and fought with each other. This happened before the flood. Nobody knows how long ago. Before the Spaniards, before the Incas. The Samanga stones are the bullets thrown from the giants' slings. I'm huacas".

Tradition folkloric of Cuzco is certainly no less than that of the Cordillera: according to a myth, always collated by Polia [p.74]:

“In the beginning God created beings who lived in the light of the moon, i machucuna, the old. They possessed great powers because they built great cities and fortresses and lived a long time: 150, 200 years. THE machucuna they dressed and built their houses as we do today but they did not know how to worship God; nor pray and lived like beasts. To punish them God caused three suns to appear who melted the rocks with their heat and burned the giants, or forced them to take refuge in the caves where they still live. They go out during the eclipses of the moon, to dance to the sound of flutes and drums. "

Another tale cusqueno, also probably referring to the humanity of the "First Sun", narrates [Polia, p. 74]:

"The old men of primeval time (nawpaq machula) were the first men who inhabited the earth. They were very few but endowed with great physical and spiritual power. Giants reaching great ages. Their age ended when the sun first rose".

Aware of the impending end, the primordial giants took all their possessions and fled towards the forest, where darkness reigned; they hid gold, silver, fabrics, work tools and their jewels underground; they are — as the anonymous source tells Polia— "the hidden treasures that burn at night".

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Other testimonies speak of the flight of this primordial race to the top of the mountains following the coming of the "era of the Inca King" (that is, of the era of the "Fifth Sun"): powerful warriors, it is said that when they fought covered head wounds with lead. It is also said that they were capable of feats impossible to rationally explain ("They made the stones walk by whipping them. The earth itself moved when ordered"). This seems to be of interest if you return to the "unexplained technical and technological skills”Of the builders of Tiahuanaco, Puma Punku, Sacsayhuaman and all the sites of the Sacred Valley of Cusco.

Chan Chan Site Museum, Huanchaco, Northern Peru. Author's photo.

The giants of the "Fourth Sun" and their end

According to the testimony of a shaman from the Ayacucho area [Polia, p. 79]:

“The Gentiles were human beings like us but bigger, stronger and wilder. They lived a long time but had no laws. They knew no family ties. They killed and destroyed each other. For this, in the end, a deluge fell that exterminated them all ”.

The connection between the legendary existence of humanity prior to the current one and the divine punishment they incur in the various eras (fiery rain, deluge, etc.), which is finally followed by a desperate escape into the subsoil and into the ravines of the mountains or a sudden transformation into statues or in rocks - all these mythologues are amply confirmed by the sources, from the Spanish chronicles of the time of the Conquest to the ethnological interviews collated by the anthropologist Polia in the second half of the last century. Land testimonies collected by the latter in the Huancavelica area [Polia, p. 76]:

"Testify to a common tradition persisting through the centuries, whose fundamental elements are the lack of moral laws - the giants were greedy, cannibals and incestuous -, their divinatory ability - they were seers, they knew the thoughts of God and prevented their punishments" , the ability to work stone, in hydraulic engineering works and in the art of weaving and their negative magical power: they were sorcerers ".

The same characteristics [see note 1] are found in the Hellenic tradition [Evola, p. 270]: 

In the Platonic Kritias, violence and injustice, lust for power and greed are the qualities referring to the degeneration of the Atlanteans. In another Hellenic myth it is said that the men of primordial times (...) were full of hubris and pride, they committed more than one crime, broke their oaths and were ruthless ".

Also according to the Greek tradition the progeny of the Giants and Titans perish in legendary wars against the Olympic-Uranian gods, including the most recent one, which resulted in the "Deluge of Deucalion", so called by Hellenic historians due to the fact that, according to the myth, only this titan was saved, and from the stones he gave life to the new human race, similarly to the myth that Viracocha wants to create the first men of the new race from the stones collected from the banks of Titicaca [cf. The enigma of Tiahuanaco, cradle of the Incas and "Island of Creation" in Andean mythology]. In both traditions it is a question, as we have seen [cf. Pachacuti: cycles of creation and destruction of the world in the Andean tradition] of the end of the cycle preceding ours, called in the Mediterranean "Bronze Age" and in the Andes "Quarto Sole".

Add to this that, again in Europe, the Nordic, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon tradition also refers to an ancient race of giants, exterminated by a flood for their sins. In the B, for example, it reads:

“Written in ancient times was the furious struggle
of a day when the flood and the sea raging
destroyed the race of giants.
Those people hateful to the eternal god had lived in pride,
who finally repaid them with this last gift, the mighty flood. "

A second reference in the B can be found in verses 113-114, where the poet speaks of "giants who fought against God for a long time"[Branston, p. 71]. But, despite the flood, the giants were not annihilated; however they remain alive in Anglo-Saxon folklore and have a prominent part in late Northern European pagan mythology. The same happens in the Andes, where "the ancient primordials, although sunk underground and hidden from view, nevertheless still live"[Polia, p. 74].

Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru. Author's photo.

"They are not dead, they are hidden"

We have already noticed how in the folklore of farmers the primordial giants, although sunk underground and hidden from view, nevertheless "they still live, they are wicked": they live "in the burial caves where they hid and in the rocks in which they turned". As Polia reports [p. 74], ultimately, their death is only apparent:

“The Gentiles are still alive. At night, the bones come together to form a human body. They cannot die. They say that even today Gentiles get up at night and go to parties. But only as long as the rooster crows, only until two or three in the morning. Not more than. After this hour they disappear. If the first light of the sun surprises them, old corroded bones return ”.

According to the testimony of the Ayacucho shaman mentioned above [Polia, pp. 76-77], when Viracocha sent the flood to exterminate them they said: "We will not leave our treasures, better to flee to the highest mountains, among the cliffs, open chasms in the earth, hide down, down". And they are still there, under there. Similar legends are found throughout America. According to the Yakima Indians [Erdoes and Ortiz, p.187]:

“Someday the Great Chief Up There will overturn those mountains and those rocks. Then the spirits that once lived in those buried bones will return to them. Currently those spirits live on the mountain tops, watching their children on earth and waiting for the great change that is to come ”.

It should be noted that, just as in the Andean tradition the giants at the end of the "Fourth Sun", with the diluvian catastrophe, do not disappear definitively, but continue to live hidden in some underground or mountain kingdom, so also in the European tradition, to put it Evola [p. 249]:

"The disappearance of the legendary sacred land can also mean passing into the invisible, into the occult or unmanifest (...) since as invisible - according to Hesiod -the beings of the first age who never died would continue to exist as guardians of men".

The Hellenic myth is almost identical to the Andean one [Evola, p. 249]:

"With the prevalence of impiety on earth, the survivors of previous ages passed into an "underground" - that is, invisible - location which, by interference with the symbolism of "height", is often located in the mountains."[See note 2].

To bring back universal myths of this kind, which connect giants and the underworld, would be a real undertaking. titanic, since similar tales are spread almost all over the world [vd. note 3]; therefore we stop here, hoping to have given sufficient information.

It remains at this point to note how often the narratives on the legendary races preceding the current one are linked to the topos of the land invisible and full of treasures. Another source, also named by Polia, states: "now their world is enchanted, disappeared into the bowels of the earth, in an immense cave full of treasures guarded by an old”- giving us an ideal image of the Andean equivalent to the mythical shambhala of Tibetan memory [cf. The Underground Kingdom (F. Ossendowski, "Beasts, Men, Gods")]. Those seem to belong to the same corpus of legends
which narrate of [Polia, p. 32]:

"(...) enchanted doors that open suddenly among the rocks, for a single moment, on luminous caverns sparkling with gold where the fluid sound of reed flutes flows and throb drums that spirits adorned with gold and feathers play in the bowels of the mountain".


  1. Something could also be reported about the Mexican tradition,  of which we have often noted the similarities with the Andean one. We mention for example. the testimonies of the chroniclers Pedro de los Rios, who told how before the flood the Land of Anahuac had been inhabited by the giants Tzocuillexo, and Fernando de Alba Ixtilxochitl, who said that "remains of the giants living in New Spain (Mexico) could be found everywhere. Toltec historians call them Quinametzin and narrate that many wars have been fought against them and that they have caused great pain in this land.". In addition, the doctor Hernandez, who visited the Cuicuilco pyramid near Mexico City, wrote to the sovereign Philip II that he had found huge bones of men that must have reached a height of over five meters; the Indians also claimed that the pyramid was built by the giants themselves. Cortés himself, during the conquest of Mexico, came into possession of gigantic bones, which according to the natives belonged to a now extinct race of giants and took care to personally send the King of Spain a "high femur when a human".
  2. Similarly, in the Irish sagas, it is said that i Tuatha de Danann retreated to the "Northwestern Paradise" ofAvalon and in part they chose underground dwellings; and even before that the gigantic race of the Fomori took refuge underground, when it was invaded and almost completely annihilated by the Tuatha.
  3. We will limit ourselves here to giving some advice. Greek mythology informs us that the giants of the "Bronze race", when destroyed by immense cataclysms, were swallowed up by the abyss of Hades and relegated to the depths of the bowels of Mother Earth: as in a curse, they were chained and became elements natural or endogenous forces, the same forces that trigger telluric phenomena and volcanic eruptions. The Ario-Persian tradition tells in its texts of the destruction of the last members of pre-Flood humanity: in Yasna IX, 15 we read this invocation: "You, O Zarathustra, have hidden in the earth all the demons that previously went around the world in human form". In the Norse tradition, giants are divided into three species: the first two, the "Mountain Giants" and the "Frost Giants", are clearly chthonic beings; the third species, the "Fire Giants", which represent its destructive power [Branston p.111]. The connection between giants-volcanoes-chthonic depths is present almost everywhere in ancient times: it was said that Loki, "enemy of Æsir”, Had been chained in an underground cave until the end of days — that is, until the Ragnarokkr-, similarly to the Lucifer / Satan of the Judeo-Christian tradition, or to the Hellenic Prometheus. In Iceland, Loki was said to lie chained under the Hekla volcano, where - according to local folklore - the entrance to the underworld is located, and "when it writhed in pain, the volcano erupted and the earth shook"[Branston p.185].
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  • Brian Branston, The gods of the North (Il Saggiatore, Milan, 1962).
  • Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz, Myths and legends of the American Indians (Mondadori, 1994).
  • Julius Evola, Revolt against the modern world (Mediterranee, Rome, 1969).
  • Pierre Honore, I found the white god (Garzanti, Milan, 1963).
  • Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, The Royal Commentaries of the Inca (El Lector, Arequipa, 2008).
  • Cornelia Petratu and Bernard Roidinger, The stones of Ica (Mediterranee, Rome, 1996).
  • Mario Polia, The blood of the condor. Shamans of the Andes (Xenia, Milan, 1997).
  • Fernando Rosas, Peruvian Myths and Legends (El Lector, Arequipa, 2000).
  • Liliana Rosati, The true story of Huaru Chiri (Sellerio, Palermo, 2002).
  • Fernando E. Elorrieta Salazar and Edgar Elorrieta Salazar, Cusco and the Valle Sagrado de los Incas (Tankar, Cusco, 2005).