Machu Picchu

My July ARCHAEO-Crush is a spectacular Inca site with which you are all familiar… but did you know that it was “discovered” on July 24, 1911 by Hiram Bingham III from Yale University.  The discovery is somewhat controversial because the local populations already knew of Machu Picchu, but it is Bingham who made this extraordinary site known to the rest of the world.

The superb Inca site perched in the mountains of Peru: Machu Picchu (photo courtesy of my Dad)

The superb Inca site perched in the mountains of Peru: Machu Picchu (photo courtesy of my Dad)

Type: site (historic statuary)
Civilisation: Inca (Peru)
Date: 15th century, circa 1450.
ARCHAEO-Crush: Machu Picchu is an breathtaking feat of civil engineering: the site is perched on rocky mountain cliffs at more than 2,400m of altitude. Religious centre, residential sector, citadel, agricultural zones… this rigorously planned space incorporates approximately 200 stone constructions in upper and lower towns. This massive stone architecture, assembled without mortar, is harmoniously integrated with its spectacular surroundings. After this tremendous effort, it seems rather incredible that the site was abandoned 100 years or so after its construction… but the Spaniards had disembarked and started colonizing.  Fortunately, they never did find out about the city on the old mountain…
Bucket list status: Oh! This is soooooo at the top of my list! I’m rather jealous that my parents got to visit Machu Picchu…
Additional information: Not surprisingly, Machu Picchu is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  You can read about it, it’s number 274.

3 thoughts on “Machu Picchu

  1. A tremendous place indeed, but just slightly behind Angkor Wat on my list of places that blend manmade things with nature in an aesthetically wondrous combination. What surprises me most is that despite the darkness of the stone in this region is that it is limestone, not granite, thus making carving much easier than i realized.

    • Angkor Wat is also on my bucket list!!!
      As far as I can tell Machu Picchu is built on a granite substrate, from the geological papers I read online. Actually I came across ‘white granite’ a few times and diorite (which is very similar to granite) during my readings; however, I did not encounter limestone… Maybe this is a question for a geologist!

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