Machu Picchu in Peru - Video
Students learn about Machu Picchu in Peru.
The stone city of Machu Picchu is one of the most captivating archaeological sites on Earth. Situated northwest of Cusco, Peru, this ancient marvel stands as a testament to the power and ingenuity of the Inca people.
At its peak, the Inca civilization spanned nearly 2,500 miles along South America's Pacific coastline, from modern-day Ecuador down to Chile - a distance almost equal to the width of the continental United States. Machu Picchu, positioned at the heart of this once vast empire, remains one of the few well-preserved remnants of the Inca civilization.
Constructed in the mid-15th century, Machu Picchu showcases the Incas' extraordinary engineering capabilities. They built palaces, temples, terraces, and infrastructure using stone, without the assistance of wheels or steel and iron tools. The Incas did not use mortar, which is typically employed to bind stones together. Instead, they cut the stones so precisely that they fit together snugly.
Machu Picchu is situated on two fault lines and is frequently affected by earthquakes. However, due to the exceptional craftsmanship of the stones, they can bounce during tremors and easily return to their original position. This ingenuity has helped preserve Machu Picchu's remarkable condition for over 500 years.
The purpose of Machu Picchu remains a mystery to many archaeologists. Some speculate that it may have been a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for nobility. The layout of the site, including both manmade and natural structures, seems to align with astronomical events. However, the city was abandoned approximately 100 years after its construction, and since the Inca had no written language, there are no records to explain the site's exact purpose.
Although local communities were aware of Machu Picchu, it remained largely unknown to the outside world for centuries. Spanish conquistadors who invaded the Inca civilization in the 16th century never discovered the site. It was not until the early 20th century that local farmer Melchor Arteaga introduced Machu Picchu to outsiders by guiding Yale University professor Hiram Bingham to the location. Bingham and subsequent explorers devoted much of their academic careers to studying this archaeological wonder.
Despite its enigmatic nature, Machu Picchu is considered one of the world's most significant archaeological sites, a testament to the power and ingenuity of one of the largest empires in the Americas. In 1983, UNESCO designated Machu Picchu as a World Heritage Site. Today, visitors from across the globe come to pay homage to this extraordinary piece of history.
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