Peru - Machu Picchu Ruins - II

  Andrys Basten, photos taken 5/23-24 , 1997 (Click to enlarge)

    (134k)     Looking up at the Watchman's Hut     Hiram Bingham officially discovered Machu Picchu in 1911, aided by natives who were familiar with the site high atop a mountain and covered by overgrowth.

    Not much is really known about the function of the old city;  the theories include its having served as a religious/ceremonial site, a special retreat for the Inca leaders, a refuge for the army and others escaping war, a source of coca leaf cultivation, and an astronomical site, etc.

    Bingham gave names to areas he called sectors, and this photo is of a portion of the Agricultural Sector.

    At the top is the funerary level, where the stock photos of Machu Picchu are taken showing Wayna Picchu rising in the background. The Watchman's Hut overlooks the lower plateau on which the main city was built. We're facing southwest here.

(128k) Looking South toward Caretaker Houses

This looks at the other side of the Caretaker houses at the entrance to the site. Looking south, this is the area under the Watchman's Hunt at the Funerary Level above.

    You can see why this was named the Agricultural Sector. The intermittent clouds always provide an interesting play of light.

    Maize was likely grown on these terraces for local consumption and probably used for burning in various sacrificial offerings. The terraced areas would not produce enough food to make the city self-sufficient and it's thought that this may have been a reason the site was abandoned, possibly even before the Spanish came.

    121k     Watchman's Hut at Funerary Level
Here, after more Peruvian steps, we're at the Funerary level.  Near the Watchman's Hut is a carved stone piece which may have been used for offerings or funeral rites. Behind the Watchman's Hut, we see the familiar Wayna Picchu.

    As the city on the lower plateau is already 1500+ ft above the river below, we're a few hundred feet higher here.


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