Which Landmark Is Known As The Lost City Of The Incas

which landmark is known as the lost city of the incas
which landmark is known as the lost city of the incas

Have you ever wondered which landmark is known as the Lost City of the Incas? This captivating piece of history holds many secrets and continues to intrigue archaeologists and historians alike. Let’s delve into the fascinating story of Machu Picchu and uncover the wonders of this ancient civilization.

Machu Picchu’s Inca Past

Machu Picchu was believed to be built during the height of the Inca Empire, which held dominion over western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although its construction is estimated to have taken place around that time, the city was abandoned about a century later, possibly due to the Spanish conquest and a suspected smallpox epidemic. It’s interesting to note that there is no evidence of the conquistadors ever reaching or attacking the mountaintop citadel.

Did you know? Machu Picchu consists of over 150 buildings, varying from baths and houses to temples and sanctuaries![^1^]

Many modern-day archaeologists speculate that Machu Picchu served as a royal estate for Inca emperors and nobles. Others suggest it was a religious site, given its proximity to mountains and other geographical features considered sacred by the Incas. Over the years, numerous alternative theories have emerged, ranging from Machu Picchu being a prison, a trade hub, a testing station for new crops, a women’s retreat, or even a city devoted to the coronation of kings.

Machu Picchu’s ‘Discovery’ by Hiram Bingham

In the summer of 1911, American archaeologist Hiram Bingham embarked on a journey to Peru with a small team of explorers. Their initial goal was to find Vilcabamba, the last Inca stronghold to fall to the Spanish. During their expedition, a local farmer informed Bingham about ruins situated atop a nearby mountain called Machu Picchu, which translates to “old peak” in the native Quechua language.

After a challenging climb to the mountain’s ridge on July 24, Bingham encountered a group of peasants who guided him to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Led by an 11-year-old boy, Bingham caught his first glimpse of the intricate network of stone terraces that adorned the site.

Excited by his discovery, Bingham shared the news in his best-selling book, “The Lost City of the Incas,” which sparked a surge of tourists eager to follow in his footsteps along the once-obscure Inca Trail. He also excavated artifacts from Machu Picchu and transported them to Yale University for further study, leading to a century-long custody dispute. The artifacts were eventually repatriated to Peru after the Peruvian government filed a lawsuit and sought the assistance of President Barack Obama.

Although Bingham is credited with bringing Machu Picchu to the world’s attention, evidence suggests that missionaries and other explorers may have visited the site during the 19th and early 20th centuries but chose not to publicize their findings.

The Site of Machu Picchu

Nestled amidst a tropical mountain forest on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu seamlessly blends with its natural surroundings. Its walls, terraces, stairways, and ramps bear witness to the architectural, agricultural, and engineering ingenuity of the Incas. The Incas masterfully cut stones to fit together without the use of mortar, showcasing their exceptional masonry skills.

Archaeologists have identified several distinct sectors within the city, including a farming zone, a residential neighborhood, a royal district, and a sacred area. The Temple of the Sun and the Intihuatana stone, a sculpted granite rock believed to have served as a solar clock or calendar, are among the most renowned structures in Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Today

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu remains Peru’s most visited attraction and South America’s most famous ruins. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people flock to witness its grandeur. However, increased tourism, the development of nearby towns, and environmental degradation pose ongoing challenges to the preservation of the site. To safeguard the ruins and prevent erosion, the Peruvian government has implemented protective measures in recent years.

FAQs

Q: What is the significance of Machu Picchu?
A: Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city believed to have been a royal estate or religious site. It showcases the architectural and engineering prowess of the Inca civilization.

Q: Who discovered Machu Picchu?
A: Hiram Bingham, an American archaeologist, is credited with the popularization of Machu Picchu after his expedition in 1911.

Q: Why is Machu Picchu significant today?
A: Machu Picchu is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is regarded as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It continues to captivate visitors with its historical and cultural significance.

Conclusion

Machu Picchu, known as the Lost City of the Incas, stands as a testament to the ingenuity and artistic achievements of the Inca civilization. Its majestic beauty, rich history, and spiritual ambiance make it a destination that all history enthusiasts and adventure seekers should experience. Explore the wonders of Machu Picchu and immerse yourself in the mysteries of the past.

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