20 Facts about Machu Picchu

A view of Machu Picchu. Image credit: http://www.superbwallpapers.com/
A view of Machu Picchu. Image credit: http://www.superbwallpapers.com/

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres above sea level in the Cusco region of Peru situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley, this ancient city is the most familiar icon of the great Inca civilization. It is believed to have been built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti.

This ancient civilization was basically wiped out by Spanish trespassers in the sixteenth century. For hundreds of year, until American scholar Hiram Bingham unearthed it in 1911, the surrendered bastion’s presence was a mystery known just to workers living in the locale. This ancient site extends over an amazing 5-mile separation, emphasizing more than 3,000 stone steps that connect the different levels of this mysterious ancient site.

View of the city of Machu Picchu in 1912 showing the original ruins after major clearing and before modern reconstruction work began. Image Credit: Wikipedia
View of the city of Machu Picchu in 1912 showing the original ruins after major clearing and before modern reconstruction work began. Image Credit: Wikipedia
  1. Machu Picchu was abandoned hundred years after its development; around the time the Spanish conquistadores started their triumph over the relentless pre Columbian civilizations.
  2. Machu Picchu was never actually found by the Spanish Conquistadores; who most likely would have plundered and destroyed this ancient city.
  3. The ancient city’s property covers 32,592 hectares of mountain slopes, peaks and valleys.
  4. It was obscure to the outside world before being reintroduced in 1911 by American Historian Hiram Bingham.
  5. Even though Bingham was credited for making Machu Picchu known to the world, it is believed that the site was visited by other explorer in the past.
  6. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage in 1983.
  7. Archeologists have distinguished a few different segments that compose the city, including a cultivating zone, a private neighborhood, a regal locale and a sacred area.
  8. According to scholars, Machu Picchu was an ancient city built in classical Inca style, with construction elements that defy our very own engineering skills today.
  9. Archaeologists have been baffled by the fact that most of the junctions in the central city are so perfect that not even a blade of grass can fit between the stones.
  10. The Incas were incredible stone masons mastering techniques in which huge stone blocks were cut to fit together without the use of mortar.
  11. Machu Picchu has three primary structures identified by archaeologists; the Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows.
  12. Machu Picchu suffered a great amount of damage in the past; most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in recent years in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like.
  13. The Intihuatana stone, which is a sculpted granite rock found at the site is believed to have been utilized as a solar clock or calendar.
  14. Before its reintroduction to the world, the ruins of Machu Picchu were covered with vegetation except for the cleared agricultural terraces that were used by  farmers as vegetable gardens.
  15. The Inti Watana (from the Quechua language: inti means “sun”, and wata- is the verb root “to tie, hitch (up)”.) stone is one of many ritual stones in South America. Several of these stones are positioned in such a way to point directly towards the sun during the winter solstice.
  16. In 2005 and 2009, the University of Arkansas made detailed laser scans of the entire Machu Picchu site.
  17. In January 2010, heavy rain caused flooding which buried or washed away roads and railways leading to Machu Picchu, trapping more than 2,000 local people and more than 2,000 tourists.
  18. Several artefacts regarded as treasure have been excavated from Machu Picchu, among them are ceramic vessels, silver statues, jewelry, and human bones; mostly dug up by Bingham between 1912 and 1915.
  19. Researchers suggest that most of its inhabitants died from smallpox introduced by travelers before the Spanish conquistadors.
  20. While archaeologists believe thatMachuPicchu has around 150 buildings ranging from baths and houses to temples and sanctuaries; Excavations in the 1960s by Gene Savoy andlatter extensive mapping by Vincent Lee suggest that this ancient city has over 450 buildings in its enclosure.

Source: Wikipedia

Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel by Kenneth R. Wright

 Lost City of the Incas (Phoenix Press) by Hiram Bingham

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