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Researchers find answers behind the strange location of Machu Picchu

Researchers find answers behind the strange location of Machu Picchu

The Machu Picchu is a beautiful site to visit but it is not quite convenient to reach. Being so high up in the Andes makes one wonder the reason for its strange location. The researchers feel they might have found an answer to this. Deep beneath the city, there are faults where the tectonic plates meet. For more than a million years, the faults produced enough stones to provide the Incas the building materials needed for their several purposes. The findings have been presented at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. 

In some of the buildings at Machu Picchu, there are no gaps present in the joins even in the absence of mortar. It would have taken less time to produce the stones due to the location of the site. Rualdo Menegat, a geologist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil said that the location of Machu Picchu is not a coincidence. Constructing the site at this height would have not been possible unless there were fractures in the substrate. The research team mapped out the fractures below the ancient citadel with the help of field measurements and satellite imagery. Scientists identified some faults to stretch up to 175 km in length. 

The location of Machu Picchu is at the intersection of the fractures running northwest-southeast and northeast-southwest. Many other Incan cities such as Pisac, Cusco are also located at such intersections. The architecture of Machu Picchu also reflects the architecture beneath the city to an extent. Besides the construction materials, the stones were also excellent sources of building drainage systems. This helped in preventing the dangerous floods during the thunderstorms along with its excellent preservation after so many years, the reasons for which it still attracts more than one and a half million visitors every year. 

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Despite these findings, we still do not know a lot about the Inca civilisation including its origins and its expansion across South America during the 13th and 16th centuries. What we know for sure is that they were master architects similar to the Egyptian civilisation. The buildings constructed by them are a rich source of knowledge about architecture and construction even to this date. By understanding the geology beneath the city, we have been able to know some of the reasons behind Machu Picchu’s location, an advantage which the Incas used to the fullest.

Menegat said that these findings show that the Incan civilization was the empire of the fractures. 

About the author: Gayathry
Gayathry is a second-year computer science undergraduate from the University of Hyderabad. With various fields of interest from cosmology, neuroscience to neurorobotics, she's also passionate about entrepreneurship.

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