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If you've ever been to Peru, you've probably heard of Machu Picchu, the Incan citadel in the Andes Mountains. Built in the 15th century and then abandoned, this ancient citadel is now a tourist attraction renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls, panoramic views, and architectural designs. While the exact purpose of the site's former residents is still unknown, you're sure to love this place.
The ancient Inca citadel at Machu Picchu has survived centuries of questioning and speculation. Although the ruins may be Pachacutec's, the ruins have been a subject of study for decades. Andean mountain ranges and glaciers surround the ancient citadel, which is surrounded by a complex landscape. The granite that is used to build the citadel has high levels of minerals and is a grey-white hue.
The name of the citadel comes from the mountain itself, which means Old Mountain in Quechua. The mountain sits at an elevation of 20,574 feet. It was a place of worship for the Incas. The ancient people also worshiped stars and animals. The citadel contains several temples, ranging from small to large in size. The site is well-preserved, and many of the ancient structures are still visible.
Located at the apex of the Andes, the iconic Machu Picchu Inca temple is still one of the most amazing archaeological sites in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the ancient Inca people and showcases the masterful engineering of the Incas. While visiting the site, you may be overwhelmed by the local legends and stories, but a local guide will explain the meaning behind the structures and their spiritual significance.
While the buildings are the star of the show, the natural surroundings are just as important. The Incas based their site on nearby holy mountains. For instance, an arrow-shaped stone in Huayna Picchu points to Mount Salcantay, the holiest of the apus in Inca cosmology. Other significant peaks of the Andes can also be viewed from Machu Picchu.
During the Inca era, the fortress was a place of worship and sacrifice. The site is also home to the mysterious Qenqo, which was a Quechua word for "labyrinth." This structure has two main components: a circular amphitheater and zigzag rocky stairs. Both structures fulfill a religious function. The interior is adorned with a huge altar. In addition, there are seats and carved stairways.
The Sacsayhuaman ruins are a stunning sight to behold. Built at a height of more than a mile above sea level, these structures have survived many battles. The fortress is only 2 km from Cusco city, and is surrounded by the Ausangate and Pachatusan Mountains, which protect the site from natural disasters. The Sacsayhuaman's shape was inspired by the Inca eagle, the sacred animal of Peru.
In addition to the Inca fortress, the region surrounding Machu Picchu also has Huchuy Qosqo, an archaeological site of great importance. The ruins of this ancient site include stone walls, halls, and an impressive irrigation system. It was once the home of the Inca god Viracocha. A full-day tour of the Sacred Valley will include both the Machu Picchu fortress and the ruins of Pisac.
The discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 by Yale history professor Hiram Bingham III led to the discovery of its treasures. Once inaccessible to the Peruvian people for centuries, the treasures were brought to Yale's Peabody Museum for study. Bingham's research led him to uncover hundreds of artifacts that are now part of a multimedia exhibition at the Peabody Museum in New Haven.
The skeletons at Machu Picchu are half female. According to the archaeologist Dr. Susan A. Niles of Yale University, the skeletons of these men and women were not found in a single tomb. However, Bingham's team found elongated skulls, which are rare for ancient human remains. Interestingly, many of these elongated skulls have also been found in Maya and Inca burial sites.
Some of the skeletons were found in shallow graves and wrapped in simple cloth. While this may indicate a quick and messy burial, many skeletons had signs of hacking and tearing with iron weapons. One skull was found with an entrance and exit wound, which was consistent with shooting victims. Another bone was found near the exit wound, which suggests it belonged to a porter or a supporter of a warrior.
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