I have always had a love for ancient civilization history. I find it absolutely fascinating how complex and well developed these early humans were. What is really incredible is that all around the world, every continent has several amazing ruins somehow built with astronomical strength and knowledge.
From the Pyramids of Egypt and Mexico to England’s Stonehenge and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, miracles are present in their design and structure. One of the most fascinating and thought-provoking places is South America’s Machu Picchu in Peru. I discovered Wealth TV was hosting a marathon of Machu Picchu documentaries, and decided to listen intently.
Although I have never been to Machu Picchu, I plan to in my lifetime, it is clear that is this is a very spiritual place. Located on a 500 meter cliff and 80 kilometers from the Inca capital city, Cusco, Machu Picchu is said to have been constructed in 1452 as the winter residence of the 9th Inca leader, Pachakuti. It was also coincidentally built over two plate-tectonics, making it durable to withstand earthquakes.
Scholars suggest the Inca population formed sometime in the early 13th century. A highly advanced society, they didn’t feel the need to use a written language. For this reason, no ancient Inca texts were ever written, and history has been passed down by family stories and Spanish conquistador chronicles. However, in the early 17th century, an Inca painter decided to create a book of knowledge about his ancestors. He illustrated his text with images to give insight into the life and times of the Inca.
Nestled in the Andes mountains, the Inca were simple people. Their first leader was thought to have come down from the highest peak of the mountains, and call himself the “son of the sun.” This man taught the Andes people masonry which they used to build homes and cities, offered agricultural techniques for growing in harsh environments, and created a system of living without money. Every man, woman, and child was taken care of by the rest of the villagers who communed together in peace and unity. By the early 1500s, the Inca had grown to quite a large civilization, roughly 10 million, and designated Cusco as the capital city. However, the Inca city only lasted about 100 years before the Spanish conquistador, Pizarro, invaded the territory, destroyed all things unique to the Incas, including temples, and enforced heavy taxes.
Since Machu Picchu was built high in the Andes, historians believe the sacred land was never found by the Spanish. The sacred temples that still stand today imply the Spanish never knew of Machu Picchu’s whereabouts. It was a signature move of the Spanish to destroy indigenous temples and construct Catholic churches. Although known to locals throughout it’s time, Machu Picchu was rather unknown to the evolving world - that is, until it was rediscovered at the turn of the 20th century.
On July 24, 1911, American historian Hiram Bingham, stumbled into this massive ancient estate. Built in typical Inca style, the land was constructed with polished dry rocks, some weighing as much as 40 tons. With this find, historians and archeologists flocked to research. They learned the Incas had additionally built an immensely efficient aqueduct system before building their homes and temples. They were expecting to receive large amounts of rain water and didn’t want to damage their newly constructed structures. The walls were built to perfection, and their roofs were thatched. Large plots of centralized land was designated for agricultural use, and interestingly enough, these plots had traces of different types of vegetable and fruits that don’t normally grow next to each other. Scientists believe the Inca’s had developed some type of genetic modification to their crops.
Eight roads connect to the city through various mountain trails, all of which stemmed from the capital city. One thousand Incas were believed to have lived at Machu Picchu before the invasion of the Spanish. To accommodate a small city, Machu Picchu was designed with three different sections.The first being for the royal quarters, second for the temples, and the third for the rest of the community. This once thriving city allegedly abandoned the city at the rise of Spanish fleets in Cusco which could have also infected people with small pox.
Today, Machu Picchu is one of the most visited landmarks in the world. It currently hosts 2000 tourists a day. Since it’s rediscovery one hundred years ago, 40% of the structures at Machu Picchu have attempted to be restored, yet have been poorly executed. Although the intention was to recreate the scene for tourists, the level of skill in construction was nowhere near that of the original. As a result, the rain water now gets trapped in the walls, instead of running off the roof, through the underground pipe lines, or gathers as large pools in between buildings. This once ancient city is now at the peril of modern technology and restoration, and the structures continue to weaken. According to the World Monument Funds, Machu Picchui is now one of the top 100 most endangered cities.
Now is the time to visit this historic and sacred site. The more popular it becomes, the more crowded it becomes and it may lose that sense of majesty if over-populated. Whether a history fanatic, ancient astronomer enthusiast, or just appreciative of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is a must see.