What Happened to Machu Picchu?
What happened to Machu Picchu? Some say the people of this mysterious city died off from disease. Others say the people were killed off in wartimes. There are many theories about why Machu Picchu was built, and what happened to the people that lived there. We will explore what is known about this fascinating place, who discovered it, and what is believed to have happened to its inhabitants so long ago. Some people believed that Machu Picchu was the very birthplace of the Inca people, or a place set apart for the chosen Virgins of the Sun, or perhaps the last capital of the Inca Empire.3 One theory about the actual use of Machu Picchu was that it was used as an Incan settlement, built with the express purpose of protecting Incan aristocracy from attacks.6 There are many theories on what Machu Picchu was used for, and why it was built. All of these theories add to the mystery surrounding this incredible city. Though some may disagree, Machu Picchu was a royal estate, a theory supported by the architecture style and the pottery shards found there. It is also similar to the other royal estates built in the same time period. The buildings of Machu Picchu are laid out in such a way that this would seem to be true, with servant quarters separate from the other buildings. According to documents that survived the era, the emperor Pachacuti built Machu Picchu sometime around A.D. 1460.2 The construction is believed to have taken up to 100 years to build. Despite this, Machu Picchu was never completed, and it is believed that Machu Picchu was used for only 100 years. The meaning of Machu Picchu is “Old Peak.”4 Machu Picchu is located 2,000 feet above the Urubamba River.4 It is a wonder just how Machu Picchu was built, as it has been deduced that this feat was accomplished without using iron tools or animals. What is generally believed is that hundreds of people pushed the stones up planes that were inclined. The stones are placed so close together, that you cannot even slide a knife between them.6 Machu Picchu has more than one hundred flights of stone steps. Many of these steps are carved from one block of granite. In studying the irrigation system, it can be seen that water was carried from the spring to each of the houses. There is also evidence that there were water fountains.6 It is believed that Machu Picchu was built as a palace for the ruler and his family as well as their guests and their staff, sort of like a later day White House. The people of Machu Picchu enjoyed rituals, feasting, dancing, and athletic competitions.2 often, the workers would make items such as tweezers and knives. These items were given as gifts to guests who visited the compound.2 Archaeologists have comprised that Machu Picchu was divided into 3 districts: the Sacred District, the Popular District, to the south, and the District of the Priests and the Nobility, which was were the royalty resided.6 The technique that was used in building Machu Picchu is called “ashlar.” This technique uses polished blocks to form dry stone walls. These blocks of stone are cut to fit tightly without mortar.6
The Incan people believed that all around them, all nature and animals, were sacred. They believed that mother earth would take care of them, and so they must return this favor. The Incans believed that the “Spirits of their Creators” could be found in natural elements, such as the sun and the moon, the stars, and all of the earth4 In order to show respect to these spirits, the Incan people built places to honor them. Pachacuti, along with later rulers, claimed to be descended from the Sun, so it is not surprising that many buildings at the site were meant for worship. One of the best-known structures is located across from the emperor's residence. Its curved outer wall resembles that at the Temple of the Sun (the Coricancha) in Cuzco. Research shows that this building was designed to observe the June...
References: 1. Rousseau, R., Incas, Children of the Sun. World & I; Jun2007, Vol. 22 Issue 6, p12-12, 1p
2. Salazar, L.C. MACHU PICCHU: Mystery Solved! Faces (07491387); Jul/Aug2008, Vol. 24 Issue 10, p18-19, 2p, 1 color
3. Balaguer, A., Machu Picchu. Americas; Apr2008, Vol. 60 Issue 2, p6-13, 8p
4. http://www.sacredland.org/world_sites_pages/M_Picchu.html Amberly Polidor
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