2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Machu Picchu

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Kirsten Davis


Machu Picchu in modern day Peru was built around 1450AD and has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is said that the structure/town was built for the Incan emperor Pachacuti. However, the area was abandoned during the time of the Spanish conquest around the end of the 1400s. Machu Picchu was rediscovered in July of 1911 by an American archaeologist. It is an Incan Citadel, a highly spiritual place with about 140 buildings made of stone. The Incas were a highly religious peoples that saw mountains as especially sacred because of their role in the natural water cycle. Machu Picchu was planned around its natural religious features of rock formations and springs. One of its wonders is how this was built on such steep terrain, on such a high mountain. One aspect of the site that made it possible was the terraces. They were engineered to have good drainage and to support agriculture. Terraces were also designed to attempt to help prevent landslides. The Incas used a technique called ashlar masonry to build the stone buildings without any mortar. They accomplished the carving of their building stones using primitive methods and technology. For example, they shaped stones using nothing more than round pounding rocks to smooth the stone surfaces and used ropes and levers to move the large stones.

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