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Visiting Our First Inca Ruins

May 27, 2014
by Virginia Zhang '15
The giant stones fit perfectly together

We haven’t been to Machu Picchu yet, but we have already climbed to ruins of higher altitude on the Kapac Ñam (Inca Trail)! The first ruin was Ampu Macha, an irrigation system and place to honor the ancient people’s ancestors. In Quechua, “Ampu” means storage, and “Macha” describes how the water is so beautiful that it is intoxicating. After Ampu Macha, Roman showed us an even more impressive stone structure along the Kapac Ñam - an enormous lunar calendar. The structure perfectly encapsulates the brilliant scientific achievements of the ancient community. The 18 window-like gaps in the stone calendar let astronomers calculate the pattern of the moon to make an accurate calendar.

Our guide, Roman also took us to a stone solar calendar, massive compared to the other ruins (the only way to fit the whole ruin in a photo was by taking a panorama). Many of the stones were up to five times my height, and all of them were moved from three miles to the site long before machinery could help with the task. Roman explained that no two stones are the same size, shape, or cut, but all of them fit together perfectly, making the structures immune to even earthquakes. The stones “reflect the cohesion of the Peruvian people, even since ancient times.” Roman explained there was, and still is no standardization, arrogance, and competition within communities.

From the top of the solar calendar, we could see the entire city of Cusco on one side and the endless grassy field on the other. Though we were all winded climbing the steep terrain, we now feel prepared for the altitude and breathtaking views of Machu Picchu.