Machu Picchu Essay
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Machu Picchu is a physical symbol of the culture that created it. It is located in the Andes Mountains in Peru, South America, high above the Urubamba River Canyon Cloud Forest. The Incan capital, Cuzco, the closest major city, is forty three miles northwest of this landmark. Machu Picchu is five square miles and eighteen square kilometers in size. This ancient civilization has an altitude of eight thousand feet and is surrounded by towering green mountains. Although covered in dense bush, it had many agricultural terraces that were sufficient enough to feed the population. Due to water from the natural springs as well as the agricultural terraces, it had the ability to be self-contained. Machu Picchu was created by the Inca culture for…show more content…
The Incans spoke the language Quechua. They named this civilization Machu Picchu because it means manly peak.
The Incan people were extremely skilled at constructing structures. In Machu Picchu, there were about two hundred buildings which included residences, temples, storage, and other public buildings. They had rectangular floors, steep thatched roofs, and trapezoidal doors. Some of them called masmas had three walls. The buildings either had one or two stories. They did not use any mortar to hold the bricks. Instead, they used cut stones, geometry and joints. Structures were so well built that they withstood earthquakes and many centuries. No other civilization in the ancient world could cut and assemble stone blocks so perfectly.
Houses were in groups of up to ten and were around a courtyard or connected by alleys. In the center of the courtyards were large open squares for livestock and growing crops. Machu Picchu was separated into three areas: agriculture, urban, and religion. The agricultural section had stepped terraces and was built on the slopes of a mountain. The urban section was shaped like a U and had three thousand steps to a network of water canals.
Machu Picchu had eighty percent more women than men. There were about one thousand two hundred people in a settlement. These numbers have been determined by archaeologists studying skeletal remains. Although the
In the summer of 1911 the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham arrived in Peru with a small team of explorers hoping to find Vilcabamba, the last Inca stronghold to fall to the Spanish. Traveling on foot and by mule, Bingham and his team made their way from Cuzco into the Urubamba Valley, where a local farmer told them of some ruins located at the top of a nearby mountain. The farmer called the mountain Machu Picchu, which translates to “old peak” in the native Quechua language. On July 24, after a tough climb to the mountain’s ridge in cold and drizzly weather, Bingham met a small group of peasants who showed him the rest of the way. Led by an 11-year-old boy, Bingham got his first glimpse of the intricate network of stone terraces marking the entrance to Machu Picchu.
The excited Bingham spread the word about his discovery in a best-selling book, “The Lost City of the Incas,” sending hordes of eager tourists flocking to Peru to follow in his footsteps up the formerly obscure Inca Trail. He also excavated artifacts from Machu Picchu and took them to Yale University for further inspection, igniting a custody dispute that lasted nearly 100 years. It was not until the Peruvian government filed a lawsuit and lobbied President Barack Obama for the return of the items that Yale agreed to complete their repatriation.
Although he is credited with making Machu Picchu known to the world—indeed, the highway tour buses use to reach it bears his name—it is not certain that Bingham was the first outsider to visit it. There is evidence that missionaries and other explorers reached the site during the 19th and early 20th centuries but were simply less vocal about what they uncovered there.