This is one of the "Caretakers' Houses" with another one below it. Unlike other buildings on this site, the roofs have been restored to give us an idea what the city looked like when it was a bustling, probably spiritual, center. These houses seem to have served as living quarters at times and storehouses at others.
Theories of the probable history of the site will come later. Surprisingly little is known about how the city was used, much less how it was built, though we do know they used only stone tools and ramps.
While there, I came across new guidebooks explaining that the much-discussed early finding that most of the skeletons found there were female was in error. From recent more sophisticated study on the bones, they've found that the population was about 50/50 male/female.
There are about 200 dwellings there, and it's estimated that approximately 1,000 people lived in this city high atop a mountain, the city itself apparently unknown to the Spaniards who did include the mountain on its maps. They therefore didn't get to destroy the religious areas as was their style.
The stairway and rail going down lead to an area that, as is usual in Peru, offers no protection at the edges of the high areas but gives easy if queasy access to beautiful scenes such as the next one of the Urubamba River about 1,500 feet below.
This is a view from the bottom of the area holding the Caretakers' Houses. The enlargement gives a good idea of how it feels to see this, though no photographs can begin to do Machu Picchu justice, as one of its main qualities has to do with the surrounding space and the use of that space in a way that builds from the natural formations and emulates their form.
In the foreground are ferns among the other growth, though we're about 7,500 feet above sea level. We're looking southeast at this point and there's a trainstop down there, though any trains are hard to make out even in the enlarged version.
Going down the staircase behind the Houses of the Caretakers (110k)
A walkway in between these houses is a main entry point to the ruins of the city. The more robust Inca-Trail hikers see the city from another hill and enter the larger area through a main gate high above with a distant first-view of the city that we easy-walkers don't experience.
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