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Machu Picchu is clearly the best‐preserved Inca archaeological site in existence. lt boasts some very fine Inca stonework and carefully constructed terraces set in a lush and humid subtropical environment. The harmonious blending of architecture and natural topography which is so typical of Inca town planning can be seen here in its full splendor.
The excellent conservation of Machu Picchu is partly due to the fact that the Conquistadores never reached it, although it was certainly abandoned shortly after their arrival. According to the generally accepted chronology, construction at Machu Picchu could not have begun earlier than 1438 AD under Inca Pachacuti. This leaves roughly one century for construction, use, and abandonment of the site.
Machu Picchu is a relatively small Inca site, with the central area measuring about 2296 by 984‐ feet. The settlements is above a narrow ridge and is surrounded by a perimeter wall. Another wall separates the agricultural and residential areas. On the whole there is an architectural emphasis on separation, which gives the impression of different quarters. The number of quarters identified varies from one author to another. The site is clearly divided in two halves, the upper (hanan)

and lower (hurin) city. A series of contiguous open courts or plazas are located between them. The finer stone work can be found in the upper half, while most of the simpler rooms can be found in the lower half. Most of the special function structures, like the tower with the curving wall called "Temple of the Sun", which appears to have served as an observatory, the "Room with the Three Windows" and the excellently worked three‐walled building generally referred to as the "Main Temple", in the upper half. The "Intihuatana", or "Sun's Tying Post" is to be found on a small hill on the hanan‐side of the city.
lt is a stone post with a rectangular cross‐section standing upright over a flat surface with one step and some lateral extensions carved into natural bedrock. It was definitely one of Machu Picchu's major features. A second Intihuatana was positioned upriver, near the modern power plant, and it is likely that several other observation points and posts have still gone unnoticed or been destroyed.
The Intihuatana of Machu Picchu is the only structure to remain fairly intact; Spanish priests had other have destroyed these stones seeing them as objects of worship. Inca priests used such "sundials" to measure the changing of the seasons. In all probability information about measurements taken at different points throughout the empire were exchanged and correlated. In this way the exact day at which it would he best for planting to begin on the many and far apart fields reserved for the Inca and the Sun could be precisely determined. Serious archaeoastronomical investigations may in the future shed more light on our understanding of the relationship between Inca astronomy, architecture and agriculture.
Machu Picchu has given rise to more speculation than any other archaeological site in Peru, with the possible exception of the Nasca Lines. The Yale expedition which reached Machu Picchu on the 24th of July of 1911 led by a local townsperson, had actually set out to find the fortress of Vilcabamba,
refuge site of the four Rebel Incas. Hiram Bingham, leader of the expedition, believed erroneously that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba. What sort of settlement Machu Picchu was is still a matter of dispute, nevertheless its no longer unanimously considered a fortress as it once was.
The reasons for choosing this specific location within the Urubamba Valley for building Machu Picchu still remains unknown. Ease of defense is suggested by the steep slopes surrounding the site and constructions such as the draw‐bridge on the Inca road leading to Machu Picchu, near the gate of Intipuncu and the perimeter wall. There are many other hill top citadels distributed along the Urubamba Valley,some with even larger terracing systems than that of Machu Picchu.
The mountain of Huayna Picchu, which may not be the tallest, but is certainly the most prominent mountain in the area, may have also played a part. Not only because of the terraces carved into the steep upper slopes, but because in a cave in its north face sits the so‐called "Temple of the Moon". In this subterranean building Inca masonry of the finest quality, including a monumental trapezoidal gate, trapezoidal niches and series of steps carved into bedrock, can be found. The difficult access to its location and its orientation towards a high mountain‐peak indicate it being an important Inca shrine. This, however, is only speculation. Judging by the extent of the terracing, agriculture appears to have been of major importance at Machu Picchu. The amount of cultivable and terraced land by far exceeds the needs of the population. As there are only 216 rooms, many of which only have three walls, the estimated
population figures for Machu Picchu borders 1000. lt must be remembered, however, that there are many other smaller settlements distributed in the area around Machu Picchu, it is therefore not an isolated outpost. Despite its relatively small size it can safely be considered to have been the administrative and ceremonial center of this region. It has been suggested that coca was grown at Machu Picchu in large quantities in order to supply Cusco's great demand for the sacred leaf. Coca grows well in this region and large quantities were certainly required for the endless succession of ceremonies conducted at the capital. lt can be assumed that the Inca grew and harvested a wide range of products typical of the warm and humid environment for transport to Cusco, proof of this must await further investigations.

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Posted by tours in machu picchu on 2013/4/5 15:20:57 (4581 reads)

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