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why was machu picchu abandoned

why was machu picchu abandoned

why was machu picchu abandoned

Hi there. In this post on Solsarin we’ll find why was machu picchu abandoned . Thanks for being with us. Let’s find the answer together.


Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located on a ridge between the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains in Peru. It sits 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level on the eastern slope of the Andes and overlooks the Urubamba River hundreds of feet below.

The site’s excellent preservation, the quality of its architecture, and the breathtaking mountain vista it occupies has made Machu Picchu one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world today. The site covers 80,000 acres (32,500 hectares). Terraced fields on the edge of the site were once used for growing crops, likely maize and potatoes.

In 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham III, a professor at Yale University, visited the site and published its existence for the first time. He found it covered with vegetation, much of which has now been removed. The buildings were made without mortar (typical of the Inca), their granite stones quarried and precisely cut.

The explorer found Machu Picchu largely intact, having apparently never been visited by the Spanish conquistadors. In fact, the only reference to the site at all in Spanish documents is a mention of the word “Picchu” in a 1568 document, the text implying that it belonged to the Inca emperor.

why was machu picchu abandoned
why was machu picchu abandoned

An emperor’s abode

Machu Picchu is believed to have been built by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth ruler of the Inca, in the mid-1400s. An empire builder, Pachacuti initiated a series of conquests that would eventually see the Inca grow into a South American realm that stretched from Ecuador to Chile.

Many archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as a royal estate of sorts, the presence of elite residences in the northeast sector of the site backing that idea up. It would have been used by the emperor and his family as a temporary respite, the site supporting a small number of year-round caretakers. Other examples of Inca royal estates are known in Peru.

Interestingly, the dwelling of the emperor himself appears to be in the southwest part of the site, away from the other elite residences. A building known today as the “Temple of the Sun” is adjacent to it.

A staircase running beside the royal compound leads to a plaza below, and the emperor was afforded a garden, a private bath and even a private toilet area — the only private one on site.

Although Machu Picchu has a wall, modest gateway and dry moat (likely used for collecting rainwater) it doesn’t appear to have been set up with military purposes in mind, and there is no evidence that a battle of any sort was fought there.


Temple of the Sun

Machu Picchu has a number of structures that would have enhanced the spiritual significance of the site.

One of them, the “Temple of the Sun,” or Torreón, has an elliptical design similar to a sun temple found at the Inca capital of Cuzco. It is located near where the Inca emperor is believed to have resided at Machu Picchu.

A rock inside the temple could have served as an altar. During the June solstice the rising sun shines directly into one of the temple’s windows, and this indicates an alignment between the window, rock and solstice sun.

Beneath the temple lies a cave, naturally formed, which the explorer Bingham referred to as a “royal mausoleum,” although there’s little evidence that it was used as such. A boulder carved into a stairway lies near the cave entrance and the underground chamber likely served a religious function of some form.

why was machu picchu abandoned
why was machu picchu abandoned

Principal temple & Intihuatana

A series of religious structures is located on the northwest of the site, bordering the plaza.

One of the buildings, dubbed the “Principal Temple,” contains a carved stone altar. When it was excavated by Bingham he found that it has a layer of white sand, something seen in temples at Cuzco, the Incan capital.

A building adjacent to the “Principal Temple” is known as the “Temple of the Three Windows” and contains a large amount of broken pottery, ritually smashed it appears.

But perhaps the biggest puzzle at Machu Picchu is a giant rock, named “the Intihuatana” by Bingham, after other carved stones found in the Incan empire. The stone at Machu Picchu is situated on a raised platform that towers above the plaza. Its purpose is a mystery, with recent research disproving the idea that it acted as a sundial. It may have been used for astronomical observations of some form. It may also be connected with the mountains that surround Machu Picchu.

Abandonment of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu did not survive the collapse of the Inca.

In the 16th century the Spanish appeared in South America, plagues afflicting the Inca along with military campaigns waged by conquistadors. In 1572, with the fall of the last Incan capital, their line of rulers came to end. Machu Picchu, a royal estate once visited by great emperors, fell into ruin. Today, the site is on the United Nations’ list of World Heritage sites.

why was machu picchu abandoned
why was machu picchu abandoned

Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the archaeological wonders of the world, not only because it was built on a hill with difficult access, but also because it is one of the urban projects that blend seamlessly with surrounding natural landscape. There is no doubt that these ruins are just valuable to humanity than any of the other wonders of the world.

It is said that the construction of the citadel was actually during the height of the Inca Wiraqocha, eighth king of Cusco.

In fact, the Inca ordered the construction of a hill in the beautiful palace for housing, temples to the sun god and the moon goddess and numerous houses to host its beautiful women, all very similar to those that existed in Cuzco.

Machupicchu had a specific role: to be the favorite place of the Inca Wiraqocha for rest and recreation. An accessory role was as an astronomical observatory.

It reached its maximum splendor during the reign of Wiraqocha Inca, who governed Cuzco like a kind king, gentle and loved by his subjects. Its decline started when Wiraqocha flees cowardly, leaving Cusco against the military invasion of the Chanka state, led by an ambitious king named Uscovilca, and takes refuge in the citadel making it his permanent resident.

Kusi, one of the minor children of Wiraqocha, without hearing the advice of his father, who asked to submit humbly to the Chankas, faces the invading army and defeats him in paths and bloody battles. Since then Kusi Yupanqui, virtually assumed power creates its own army and the Royal Council of Wiraqocha undergoes him.

The place where Wiraqocha fled before the attack Chanka was at that time called Llaki Qawana (“The look of sadness”). The so called Kaqya Qawana Cuzco. (“Place where you look the ray”). Only later was called Machu Picchu.

After the victory over the Chanka, young Kusi humbly offered the spoils of war to his father Wiraqocha who contemptuously replied that his son and successor Urko, a hopeless drunk and sexual pervert, should receive the loot. Resented by the rudeness that his father had done, Kusi returned to Cuzco to consolidate its power and focus on reconstruction and beautification of the city. But secrecy also planned the death of his main rival: his brother Urko. Fact that was held shortly afterwards.

Wiraqocha deeply moved and saddened by the murder of Urko, his dearest son, decided to stay forever in his citadel and not see his young and victorious son Kusi Yupanqui, whom he hated in the depths of his being.

Only a clever strategy of the Royal Council, brought out of his refuge Wiraqocha to visit Cuzco: They told him that his son Kusi “invited” to personally observe the transformation that had taken place in its main city. Once in Cuzco, Wiraqocha still surprised by the victory of his son before the Chankas, resigned since the death of his favorite son and successor Urko and admired by the power achieved by his despised son, seeing the great transformation of the city Cuzco, named his son Kusi, PACHACUTEC “the transformer of the world”.

why was machu picchu abandoned
why was machu picchu abandoned

However, Kusi would not wait longer to become king and quickly pulled the tassel of her father’s head and placed himself, becoming recognized since then as absolute king, adopting the nickname that his father had given him: PACHAKUTEQ. Cruelly humiliated his father, making him kneel before him and apologize for his rudeness. Then punished him ordering drink plenty of chicha (corn beer) unclean. Finally banished him to live until his death in his “recreation center”, now become his home of sadness and helplessness.

The Inca Pachacutec thus knew the true personality of despotic king, cruel and vindictive. After having had ten years of loneliness and humiliation, Wiraqocha died. His son Pachacutec ordered in contempt for his father, the total depopulation and abandonment of the citadel called Llaki Qawana and is now known as Machu Picchu.

Thus began the deterioration of buildings of Machu Picchu, gradually being covered by dense vegetation. Just stay in the memory of some of its people, those who were passing quietly to their descendants as a distant and sad reality.

In 1900 a local farmer named Agustin Lizarraga, who lived near the area, dared to visit the old and ancient ruins being deeply impressed by the grandeur of its buildings. But no one dared to make known his discovery for ten years, for fear of being considered crazy or be punished for revealing a state secret.

Finally, in 1911, the American explorer Hiram Bingham, a professor at Yale University, was told by the peasant Lizarraga of the existence of the Inca citadel, lost in a mountain called Machu Picchu and guided to the site. His surprise was immense and immediately claimed the discovery and proudly announced its headquarters.

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