středa 29. srpna 2012

Machu Picchu - "The Lost City of the Incas"

Place of the pre-Columbian Inca ruins, about 80 km northwest of Cuzco, in Peru.
Machu Picchu stands on an altitude of 2,350 meters, in the Andes Mountains. It's the principal tourist attraction in Peru.

Machu Picchu is 7000 feet above sea-level and consists of temples, giant walls, pathways, gardens, ramps and remnants of buildings and halls all built on the terraces made on mountain slopes. Over the centuries, the surrounding jungle grew to enshroud the site, and few knew of its existence.

Rediscovery of Machu Picchu
On July 24, 1911, Machu Picchu was brought to the attention of the West by Hiram Bingham, an American historian then employed as a lecturer at Yale University. He was led there by locals who frequented the site. This explorer/archaeologist began the archaeological studies there and completed a survey of the area. Bingham coined the name "The Lost City of the Incas", which was the title of his first book. He never gave any credit to those who led him to Machu Picchu, mentioning only "local rumor" as his guide.

Bingham had been searching for the city of Vitcos, the last Inca refuge and spot of resistance during the Spanish conquest of Peru. In 1911, after various years of previous trips and explorations around the zone, he was led to the citadel by Quechuans who were living in Machu Picchu in the original Inca infrastructure. Bingham made several more trips and conducted excavations on the site through 1915. He wrote a number of books and articles about the discovery of Machu Picchu.

Functions and Legends
One of Machu Picchu's primary functions was that of astronomical observatory. The Intihuatana stone (meaning 'Hitching Post of the Sun') has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods. The Intihuatana (also called the Saywa or Sukhanka stone) is designed to hitch the sun at the two equinoxes, not at the solstice (as is stated in some tourist literature and new-age books). At midday on March 21st and September 21st, the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. At this precise moment the sun "sits with all his might upon the pillar" and is for a moment "tied" to the rock. At these periods, the Incas held ceremonies at the stone in which they "tied the sun" to halt its northward movement in the sky. There is also an Intihuatana alignment with the December solstice (the summer solstice of the southern hemisphere), when at sunset the sun sinks behind Pumasillo (the Puma's claw), the most sacred mountain of the western Vilcabamba range, but the shrine itself is primarily equinoctial.

In 1983, Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On July 7th, 2007, Machu Picchu was voted as one of New Open World Corporation's New Seven Wonders of the World.

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