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 Location: 80 Km NW of Cuzco, Peru.  Grid Reference: 13° 09' S, 72° 33' 20" W.

 

      Machu Pichu: ('The Old Peak').

Machu Picchu was one of the few Inca sites that was not discovered by the Spanish during the conquest of 1530.

This famous mountain citadel was officially re-discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Very little is known about the site, except that it has buildings that show strong suggestions of solar observation  (12). The structures are built from white granite, with blocks reaching up to 3.7 metres in length.

Skeletal remains show a 10:1 ratio of females to males. (2)

(Click here for map of the site)

(Image of Overgrown Machu Picchu by Bingham in 1912)

 

 

   Machu Pichu (The Old Peak):

There are nearly 200 rooms at Machu Picchu, including residences, temples, storage buildings, altars, and observatories. There were also several shrines for the practice of ancestor worship of the Inca, a religious cult in which centuries-old mummies of ancestors were kept and tended. Doorways and walls were not necessarily rectangular in outline or plan, but all fit together tightly. Evidence of several fires have been discovered at Machu Picchu, particularly in the area known as the Torreon, which was thought to have held the mummy of Pachacuti himself. The fires were likely the work of the Spanish, who attempted to obliterate the old Incan religion.

 

Structures at Machu Pichu:

 

The Intihuatana: (The Hitching Post, 'Saywa' or 'Sukhanka' stone)

One of very few remaining stones sacred to the sun-god Inli; It is a small flattened pyramid topped by a huge stone sundial carved from the natural rock. The name means ‘the hitching post of the sun’. The stone was able to indicate equinoxes and lunar movements (12). as at midday on March 21 and September 21, the equinoxes, the sun stands almost above the pillar—casting no shadow at all.

 

 

 

The Tower of the Sun:

Built around natural rock feature, this structure was roughly shaped like a horse shoe (left), and has a trapezoidal window in it, which appears to have been placed to permit observation of the mid-winter solstice. (12).

 

 

 

 

The Temple of the Three Windows:

So called because of its three trapezoidal windows. A short distance away from the windows, in the middle of the Temple, stands a rectangular stone which is suspected of having been used as a back-sight for solar observations. (12).

 

 

 

The 'Royal Tomb' – Carved from solid granite, the tomb lies directly below the Tower of the Sun. A throne of solid rock walls with carefully worked stone slabs. (12). This fantastic construction served as a tomb of an important person. (And from here came the name). On the right side one can see the rock carved with three steps (the symbol of the Pachamama). The rock was harmoniously united with the great rock that supports the Temple of the Sun. The internal walls of the grotto in the Royal Tomb are covered by stones that are perfectly joined and in these walls there are four trapezoidal niches, the size of doors.

 

 

 

The Inca were masters at dry-stone walling with granite blocks, using a technique called ashlar, in which blocks of stone were cut to fit together tightly without mortar. Although they were able to create whole citadels such as Machu Picchu with its intricate block-work, no tools have been found that explain how. It is rumoured the Inca had knowledge of a plant that could 'dissolve' stone.

 

Examples of the masonry at Machu picchu - much of which is so good that a peice of paper cannot be slid between the blocks.

 

These construction techniques are identical to those found at other sites from around the ancient world.

(Similar construction techniques from around the ancient world)

 

Asuka Village: Japan.

The mountainous Nara prefecture of Japan is home to the following structures. Perhaps coincidence, but they bear a striking similarity to the masonry at Machu Pichu as the following images testify:

Rhomboid shaped cavity.

 

 

'Hitching Stone?' near the top of Iwafune Mountain.

 

The channels in the rock above are similar to those found at Sacsayhuaman.

Photo Credits and More Information: http://www42.tok2.com/home/slicer190190/5-37.html  

 

Chronology of Machu Pichu:

In the 1930’s, Prof Rolf Muller, controversially concluded from the alignments of the buildings, and using the procession of the equinox as a slide-rule, that the site could have only been built during ‘the era of 4,000 BC to 2,000 BC. (21) Today it is considered to have been built around the year 1,460, but was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a hundred years later, at the time of the Spanish conquest around 1530 AD.

 

Archaeo-astronomy:

The site appears to demonstrate several astronomical orientations in the structures, including solstice, equinoxes and lunar movements. The Intihuatana stone (meaning 'Hitching Post of the Sun') has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods. The Intihuatana (also called the Saywa or Sukhanka stone) is designed to hitch the sun at the two equinoxes. At midday on March 21st and September 21st, the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. At this precise moment the sun "sits with all his might upon the pillar" and is for a moment "tied" to the rock. At these periods, the Incas held ceremonies at the stone in which they "tied the sun" to halt its northward movement in the sky. There is also an Intihuatana alignment with the December solstice (the summer solstice of the southern hemisphere), when at sunset the sun sinks behind Pumasillo (the Puma's claw), the most sacred mountain of the western Vilcabamba range, but the shrine itself is primarily equinoctial.

 

The 'Wayna Picchu 'Face'.

It has been observed that the outline of the Wayna Picchu mountain resembles a face. Whether or not this was the original reason for the placement of Machu Picchu is a controversial issue. The photo on the left is original while the photo on the right was treated for a coffee advert to highlight the natural features.

 

Other Macchu Facts.

Partway down the northern side of Wayna Picchu (The Young mountain), is the so-called "Temple of the Moon" which consists of a set of architecturally enhanced caves.

At Torontoy, one of the smaller sites clustered around Machu Pichu, there is a stone with 40 angles between the sides. (12)

Photo of Machu Picchu, turn of 20th century. (Credits: National Geographic, 1912)

 

 

(Other Peruvian Sites)

(Pre-Columbian America Homepage) 

References:

2). D. Zink. The Ancient Stones Speak. 1979. Musson Book Co.
12). The Atlas of Mysterious Places. 1987. Guild publishing.
21). G. Hancock. Fingerprints of the Gods. 1996. Mandarin.

Further Research:

Machu Picchu, A marvel of Inca Engineering: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/wright-inca-engineering.html
Ancient Drainage System at Machu Picchu: http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/machupicchu/

 

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