A Journey Along the Qhapaq Ñan

Fostering Cultural Heritage Protection Through Place-Based Storytelling


Adding Survey control Aypate by CyArkCyArk

Protecting the Cultural Heritage of the Qhapaq Ñan

Spanning 30,000 kilometers and six countries, the Qhapaq Ñan or “great road” was the primary artery for communication, trade, and defense during the Inca empire.  Protecting the unique cultural heritage found along this route has proved challenging due to its vast scale.

Map of sites along the Qhapac Ñan by CyArkCyArk

Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP)

In 2021 CyArk received funding through the AFCP to provide virtual training in 3D documentation of cultural heritage and digital storytelling for three communities found in Ecuador and Peru. 

Ingapirca Archaeological Complex

In Ecuador, CyArk partnered with the  Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural to digitally document the  Ingapirca Archaeological Complex, Ecuador's most visited archaeological site.

Pumapungo Archaeological Park

Located 60 km south of Ingapirca, the  Pumapungo Archaeological Park features hundreds of walls and terraces.

Aypate Archaeological Complex

In Peru, CyArk partnered with the Ministry of Culture, and the local community of Ayabaca to document the Great staircase and the Acllahuasi, also known as the "house of the chosen". 

Virtual Training at site of Aypate (2022) by CyArkCyArk

Virtual Training

Local partners at each of the selected sites were shipped digital cameras and were provided training on how they can quickly and accurately document cultural heritage sites using photogrammetry. 

Photogrammetry Ingapirca (2022) by CyArkCyArk

Digital Documentation

Following the training, local partners documented the three sites. In total over 10,000 high-resolution images were taken as part of this project.

Photogrammetry Pumapungo, CyArk, From the collection of: CyArk
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Participants complete photogrammetry at the Pumapungo Archaeological Park.

Interviews being conducted with local guides at Ingapirca, From the collection of: CyArk
Traditional offering and cermony at Ingapirca, From the collection of: CyArk
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Following the documentation, local partners also interviewed community members to share the many reasons why these sites are essential to local communities and should be preserved and protected.

Hear from Blanca Lema, a local Cañari Healer

Explain why Ingapirca is important to her and her community

3D Render of Ingapirca (2022-07-19) by CyArkCyArk

Developing a Virtual Tour

The 3D data and interviews with community members were combined together to develop an educational virtual tour. Explore the sites in 3D!

Photogrammetry Ingapirca (2022) by CyArkCyArk

Building Capacity in Ecuador and Perú

The data collected will soon be available to download at OpenHeritage3D.org, and the training and equipment provided to local partners will support future projects related to protecting cultural heritage well into the future. 

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