Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 40, exploring Machu Picchu, Peru

Two thousand feet above the rumbling Urubamba river, the cloud shrouded ruins have palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation.

These structures, carved from the gray granite of the mountain top arewonders of both architectural and aesthetic genius.

The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls of regular shape. The Incas were masters of this technique, called ashlar, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar.

The Incas were among the best stone masons the world has seen, and many junctions in the central city are so perfect that it is said not even a blade of grass fits between the stones...No, Amit, dont put your credit card in between, it will not fit!

Many of the building blocks weigh 50 tons or more yet are so precisely sculpted and fitted together with such exactitude!!

Hmm, didnt we see the similar workmanship in the Great Zimbabwean Ruins??
The erection of huge buildings without mortar!

There are more than one hundred flights of stone steps-often completely carved from a single block of granite-and a great number of water fountains that are interconnected by channels and water-drains perforated in the rock that were designed for the original irrigation system.

Evidence has been found to suggest that the irrigation system was used to carry water from a holy spring to each of the houses in turn.

Peru is a highly seismic land, and mortar-free construction was more earthquake-resistant than using mortar. The stones of the dry-stone walls built by the Incas can move slightly and resettle without the walls collapsing.

Inca walls show numerous design details that also help protect them from collapsing in an earthquake.

Doors and windows are trapezoidal and tilt inward from bottom to top; corners usually are rounded; inside corners often incline slightly into the rooms; and "L"-shaped blocks often were used to tie outside corners of the structure together. These walls do not rise straight from bottom to top but are offset slightly from row to row.

The Incas never used the wheel in any practical manner. Its use in toys demonstrates that the principle was well-known to them, although it was not applied in their engineering. The lack of strong draft animals as well as terrain and dense vegetation issues may have rendered it impractical. How they moved and placed enormous blocks of stones remains a mystery,

although the general belief is that they used hundreds of men to push the stones up inclined planes.

The ruins of Machu Picchu, are one of the most beautiful and enigmatic
ancient sites in the world. While the Inca people certainly used the Andean
mountain top (9060 feet elevation), erecting many hundreds of stone
structures from the early 1400's, legends and myths indicate that Machu
Picchu (meaning 'Old Peak' in the Quechua language) was revered as a sacred
place from a far earlier time.....

Whatever its origins, the Inca turned the site into a small (5 square miles)
but extraordinary city.

Invisible from below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population, and watered by natural springs, Machu Picchu seems to have been utilized by the Inca as a secret ceremonial city.......we think....

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