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Machu Picchu was built by the Incans in the 15th century.
Many theories are put forward by the archaeologists regarding the use of Machu Picchu by the Incan people. A lot of challenges were faced by the experts to provide the correct justification regarding the construction of this massive city.
Machu Pichu is located in Peru in South America and is one of the new seven wonders of the world. It was also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1983. This spectacular Machu Picchu mountain attracts thousands of tourists from all across the globe every year. Most archaeologists claim that Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Pachacutec during his reign from 1438-1471. This Inca citadel was built at the time of his expansion of the Inca empire.
The Inca emperor was successful in defeating the Chanca people, thereby gaining victory over the valley of Cusco. The construction of Machu Picchu is attributed to Pachacutec, who constructed this magnificent fortress along the eastern slope of the Vilcanota mountain range. The prudent emperor chose this exotic location about 80 mi (130 km) from the capital city of Cusco. The Inca architecture reveals the steep cliffs surrounding the fortress with only a single entrance. It was intentionally built amidst the forest in order to protect the Inca building from attackers.
Researches claim that three generations of Inca people resided in Machu Picchu, which suddenly became a forsaken place. One of the main hypotheses put forth behind this mysterious abandonment is that Machu Picchu was accessible to only the elite class of Incas, and thus, the common people of Inca civilization possessed no idea about the mountain Machu Picchu. Keep on reading to know more interesting facts on Machu Picchu.
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The royal estate of Machu Picchu was hidden under the Urubamba river canyon for more than four centuries. Hiram Bingham, the Yale University Professor and American explorer, rediscovered the lost city on July 24th, 1911. However, the Cusco researcher Simone Waisbard stated that Hiram Bingham was not the first person to find the city, and in fact, Enrique Palma, Gabino Sánchez, and Agustín Lizarraga were the first to visit the famous ruins and record their names on July 14th, 1901.
The unrecognized explorer Agustín Lizarraga's visit to the city on the eastern slopes caught the attention of Bingham, who then set out to investigate following the Inca trail. As soon as he rediscovered the Inca ruins, he sought permission from the Peruvian Government to carry out the archaeological work that started in 1912 and ended in 1915.
Machu Picchu was undoubtedly used by the Incan people to carry out their religious rituals. The ancient ruins suggest that religion played a key factor in the life of the Incas. Its location above the Urubamba river sets forth a sacred aura. The snow-clad mountains of Andes and the river surrounding the mountain ridge evoke inner peace and serenity. Moreover, there are holy places around the citadel.
Many researchers claim that the birthplace of Manco Capac (considered to be the founder of the Inca Civilization) is Tampu Tocco, which is none other than Machu Picchu. Thus, it is considered a legendary place by many experts. The priests were able to observe the stars, moon, and sun from the citadel and followed important astronomical events. The direction of the windows and doors was based upon these observations.
Machu Picchu's exotic location in close proximity to the rainforest enables us to understand the advantage gained from it by the Inca people. The Incas built near the rainforest to obtain rare products from plants and animals that thrived at different times in varied elevations.
The Inca people used to get exclusive products from the forest, such as vibrant bird feathers, exotic fruits and vegetables, medicinal herbs, and coca leaves. They used to barter these products with the common items at the citadel from the tribal people. The Inca people also used these products for several religious ceremonies, which were held at the temple in the citadel.
Due to its high elevation in the Andes, Machu Picchu is also regarded as the 'City Within The Clouds'. The Incas built the Temple of the Sun, the Intihuatana Stone, and the Room of the Three Windows, from where they perceived astronomical phenomena without any kind of obstructions. The Sun God, Inti, was revered by the Inca people, and they dedicated these three structures to him. They used the Hitching Post of the Sun to mark significant planetary events, including the two equinoxes. From these observations, Hiram Bingham, along with other archaeologists, stated that the Incan people used to predict season changes from astronomical events.
South America's Machu Picchu has great walls made of many stones that served as a hideout for the royals. Its enclosed city walls protected the Incas from invaders, and the residents probably lived inside the citadel for several days during wars. Nevertheless, the residents never went hungry or without food.
The Inca empire used Machu Picchu for agricultural practices as well. They successfully utilized the terraces for agriculture, and the natural water sources provided them uninterrupted water supply. Experts commented that the Inca people were excellent engineers in building aqueducts for channeling water supply to the city for their consumption. The Incas constructed a multitude of terraces for carrying out their agriculture at the southern end of the citadel. They considered water to be a sacred element. An interesting tradition was followed by the Incas.
It was customary for the young women to serve the Emperor of the Incan empire, Sapa Inca, and other Gods by transforming themselves into priestesses. While some women were sacrificed to Gods, others were made concubines. According to Bingham and other researchers, Machu Picchu served as the house for a bevy of beautiful ladies. Upon excavation, they came across 174 buried skeletons, among which 150 were of women. According to Bingham, this site was the last refuge of the young ladies who fled away from the Conquistadors, though this theory has been rejected by other researchers.
The citadel was built high enough with a width of 71 in (1.8 m) and a height of 236 in (6 m) to protect the royal residents from potential threats. However, a continuous perimeter wall surrounding the citadel was not present, and hence, several experts suggested that the grand Machu Picchu was not just a mere site for security and protection. Many researchers claim the spectacular Machu Picchu as a center for administrative work as well.
The magnificent Machu Pichu was mysteriously left abandoned for more than 400 years. Many believe that an epidemic or a civil war broke out that affected the food supply to Machu Pichu, thereby deserting the citadel. Due to its tremendous height, a no-fly zone exists above the region.
Several names are attributed to Machu Picchu by the local natives of Peru, for example, Vitcos and Cajaroma. The real name of Machu Picchu is Patallaqta, which is derived from the two Quechua words, 'Pata', meaning steps, and 'Llaqta', which means town.
Apart from serving as a site for administration, it also served as a place for royal retreat and pilgrimage. It cannot be considered a ruin owing to the well-preserved structures present within. Instead, it can be regarded as a sanctuary due to its holiness, where one can gain spiritual enlightenment.
Another interesting point that must be noted is that the Incas were masters in utilizing short spaces and the old peak of mountains. The high elevation atop the mountains does not impose any threat to the structure. Instead, it is able to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes and landslides.
Moreover, there are more than 170 buildings within this urban sector. They adopted a set of rules for designing these buildings and marking their locations. The stones used for construction are polygonal stones of granite or limestone mostly. The Incas used sharp tools made of bronze or copper to cut stones by splitting their fractured parts and giving shape to them. There were no wheels available at that time. So they rolled the stones with wood beams. The roofs were built with wood and grass as well.
Presently, Machu Picchu's most popular tourist attractions are the Temple of the Sun, the Room of the Three Windows, Intihuatana Stone, the Royal Mausoleum, water pools, and fountains, and the Residence of the Priest.
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