The Inca city of Machupicchu is one of the most precious treasures of Cusco, Peru and the world, and is considered within the UNESCO heritage list. Machupicchu is considered as an important political, religious and administrative center of the Inca empire; possibly built in the 15th century, by order of the Inca Pachacuteq (9th Inca), surrounded by temples, enclosures, platforms and water channels; basically built with stone blocks superimposed on each other.
Every time we are faced with a place whose written history does not exist, there is a great temptation to imagine what it was like and who the people who lived there were. We think of people walking through the streets and squares, sitting or doing ceremonies, using their dishes, dressed with their ornaments; There are no living or written testimonies left, but we all know that something like this happened in that place. Archeology and ethnohistory help to answer these and other questions, but of course they have limitations. Visiting the Inca city of Machupicchu is one of the most rewarding experiences.
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Machupicchu, is considered a masterpiece of Inca architecture and engineering. Its peculiar architectural and landscape characteristics; as well as the veil of mystery that has been woven around it, they demonstrate it. Machupicchu, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1 983, as part of a whole cultural and ecological complex known under the name "Historic Sanctuary of Machupicchu"; and protected by the Peruvian Government through Law No. 001.81.AA of 1 981, to preserve the geological formations and archaeological remains within the Sanctuary, in addition to protecting its flora, fauna and scenic beauty.
Most modern archaeologists and historians declare that Machupicchu was built by the Inca Pachacuteq, who was the greatest statesman of Tahuantinsuyo and ruled from 1438 to 1470 (15th century), about 100 years before the arrival of the Spanish. ; Scholars use for this assertion the chronological date given by carbon 14 or radiocarbon. Machupicchu, would have been one of the rest residences of Pachacuteq (Mausoleum of the ninth Inca). However, some of the constructions and the evident ceremonial character of the main access road to the llaqta (citadel), would show that it was used as a religious sanctuary. Both uses, the palace and the sanctuary, would not be incompatible. Some experts seem to have ruled out that of a supposed military nature.
It comes from the southern Quechua Machu-Picchu, “Old Mountain”. Unfortunately the original names of the sectors mentioned are unknown, Machupicchu, Waynapicchu ([Young Mountain] mountain that is seen in front and appears in most of the classic views of Machupicchu) and some other names used today, are contemporary probably attributed by farmers who they lived in the region before Bingham's arrival. However, according to 16th century studies, it is documented that the original name of the entire area could be "Picchu".
The Historic Sanctuary of Machupicchu is located at 13º 9 '47 ”south latitude and 72º 32' 44” west longitude (Documented by the Central Intelligence Agency). It is part of the district of the same name, in the province of Urubamba, in the Department of Cusco, in Peru. They are found on the left bank of the so-called Urubamba Canyon, formerly known as Quebrada de Picchu. At the foot of the hills and practically surrounding it runs the Urubamba or Vilcanota river (the Willka mayu or sacred river of the Incas). The archaeological site is located halfway between the peaks of the Machupicchu and Waynapicchu mountains, 450 meters above the valley level and 2 438 meters above sea level. Bio-geographically it is located in the ecoregion of the Peruvian Yungas. The Historic Sanctuary of Machupicchu, extends over an area of ??32 592 hectares (325.92 km²) of the Vilcanota river basin. The built-up area is approximately 530 m. long by 200 m. wide, with 172 buildings in its urban area.
ECOLOGY AND LIVING ZONES
According to the ecological classification corresponding to the Natural Life Zones of Dr. L. Holdridge, based on the close relationship that exists between the climate and the vegetation. The Classification System is embodied in a mathematical and three-dimensional configuration model, called Bioclimatic Diagram, which demonstrates the interaction of climatic factors such as temperature (bio-temperature), precipitation and environmental humidity (potential evapotranspiration ratio):
PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF ORCHIDS IN THE HISTORICAL SANCTUARY OF MACHU PICCHU
The flora of the Machupicchu Sanctuary is particularly diverse and with typical species of the Andean forests and montane forests and they are characterized by presenting important endemic species to be conserved within the Sanctuary. Orchids are present in different elevational levels and constitute one of the important groups to conserve because many of them are endemic and others are in danger of extinction.
The Historic Sanctuary of Machupiccchu provides the habitat required for the growth of orchids, because it has multiple ecological floors and ecosystems appropriate for each species. Altitudes between 500 and 3 000 meters above sea level. They are the most favorable areas for the development of orchids. Machu Picchu in particular, for being located in the terminal sierra and the beginning of the jungle; maintains peculiar conditions for the development of orchids.
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu shows endemic species such as: Masdevallia karineae, Kefersteinia koechlinorum, Stellilabium peytonorum, which we can only observe in Machu Picchu and many other species that we still probably do not even know about because they have their growth habitat in places inaccessible to man. The Sanctuary of Machupicchu probably has more than 400 species of orchids; for this reason it is necessary to protect and take care of the habitat of these orchids. Certain species particularly beautiful for their size and color such as: Anguloa, Bletia, Lycaste, Masdevallia, Phragmipedium, Sobralia, Stanhopea, Telipogon, for example; Their population has decreased and many are in danger of extinction, due to forest fires and, above all, indiscriminate extraction by unscrupulous merchants and residents of the area.
The climate of this sector has some characteristics, there are only two well-defined and distinguished seasons: the rainy season from September to April and the dry season from May to August. However, Machupicchu is located at the edge of the Amazon jungle and the rains are latent in any month of the year. On the hottest days it is possible to reach approximately 26 ° C. (78.8 ° F.), the coldest mornings are in June and July where the temperature can reach -2 ° C. (28.4 ° F.), the average temperature annual is 16 ° C. There is an average annual rainfall of 1571 mm. - 2 381 mm., It is obvious that the monthly relative humidity is directly related to the rains, so the average humidity is 77% during the dry months and 91% in the rainy months. The rains, are copious, quickly alternate with moments of intense sunlight.
Machupicchu National Historic Sanctuary, is located on top of a large granite orogenic structure, baptized by Dr. Isaiah Bowman, as "Vilcabamba Batholith." Its formation belongs in the balance of geological time, to the Paleozoic or the Lower First and has an approximate age of 250 million years. The white-gray granite of the Vilcapampa is an igneous stone mainly composed on average of: 60% feldspar, 30% quartz and 10% mica. This granite has interlaced the texture of the equigranular and has had a hardness of 6 ° to 7 ° on the Mohs scale, with a resistance of 1200 Kg / cm². In this region there are some other stones that correspond to the Lower Paleozoic, such as schist, quartzite and metamorphic conglomerations that could be 350 - 450 million years old.
The archaeological site of Machupicchu has been built on the Vilcabamba Batholith, composed of intrusive Permo-Triassic rocks, mainly white to greyish granite, cut by some veins of tonalites and talcesquistas. The granite massif is cut by a series of faults and joints that play an important role in the current conformation of the relief and in its evolution. In the Geological Map of the Quadrangle of Machupicchu, of the Geological Mining and Metallurgical Institute of Peru, two large regional Course faults are observed, which cut into the area, called Waynapicchu and Machupicchu Faults, oriented NE-SW. These faults have no recent activity.
THE PEOPLE OF MACHUPICCHU
Inca society had a rigid social structure in its ethnic and functional relations, from which power was born. The class structure did not respond so much to the economic position of the people but rather to the functions that they had to fulfill within that community. The Incas had power over many curacas and these over a chain of other chiefs of lesser territorial levels. In this way the Inca could dispose of the tributes and the service of many people, but always through the various intermediation scales represented by the curacas.
Being of the lineage of the Incas granted a lot of prestige and privileges. Those of the Pachacuteq lineage, for this reason, were distinguished among the others. The economic privileges of the Incas were shared with the other members of their lineage or panaca and consisted mainly of having lands very well endowed for their benefit.
It is believed that Machupicchu had a mobile population like most Inca llactas, ranging between 300 and 1,000 inhabitants, belonging to an elite (possibly members of the Pachacuteq panaca) and acllas. It has been shown that the agricultural force was composed of colonists mitimaes or mitmas (mitmaqkuna) from different corners of the empire.
According to the buildings found in the Inca city, the population during its peak had approximately 1000 people and the mummies found by the Bingham expedition were almost 80% women; This was a great support to affirm that the "Aqllawasi" (House of Chosen Women) existed who were considered as the wives of the Sun. Many modern scholars suggest that a large part of them were also wives of the Inca, considering that he was the son del Sol was therefore a living god. Thus the Inca lived on his property, together with his wives. It was normal for the Inca to have hundreds of concubines, for example our history states that Wayna Qhapaq who was the father of Waskar and Atawallpa had more than 400 children. However his main wife must have been his own sister, only in that way could they supposedly keep the "solar blood" they had. The heir to the throne had to be the son of Inca and his sister.
Today the reasons that led to the depopulation of the Inca city are unknown; although some hypothetical reasons are outlined that are in a logical framework. It is believed that there was an epidemic, which led to the abandonment of the city built in a humid area with an abundance of insects; Even up to the first decades of this century, different epidemics in this area (especially malaria) were frequently reported; Another possibility suggests that it had to be abandoned and closed after the death of the sovereign who built and lived in it; Another hypothetical reason indicates that the Antis (“Antis” = jungle tribes living in the Amazon Forest), the worst enemies of the Inca, arrived at this place where they carried out a large slaughter. What is evident is that the Inca City was closed, abandoned and even forgotten until the first years of the 20th century.
The Picchu ravine, located halfway between the Andes and the Amazon, was a region colonized by Andean populations, coming from the Vilcabamba and Sacred Valley regions, in Cusco, in search of an expansion of their agrarian borders. Archaeological evidence indicates that agriculture has been practiced in the region since at least 760 BC. A demographic explosion occurs from the Middle Horizon Period, from the year 900 of our era, by groups not historically documented; but that they were possibly linked to the Tampu ethnic group of Urubamba. It is believed that these peoples could have been part of the Ayarmaca federation, rivals of the first Inca of Cusco. During this period, the built agricultural area (platforms) expands considerably. However, the specific location of the city that occupies the rocky ridge that joins the Machupicchu and Waynapicchu mountains, does not show signs of having had buildings before the 15th century.
Inca period (1438-1534)
Around 1440, during his campaign towards Vilcabamba, the Picchu ravine was conquered by Pachacuteq, the first Inca of Tahuantinsuyo (1438-1470). The location of Machupicchu must have impressed the monarch due to its peculiar characteristics within Cusco's geography and for this reason, he would have ordered the construction of an urban complex with luxurious civil and religious buildings there around 1450.
Machupicchu, was not from any point of view an isolated complex, so the myth of the "lost city" and the "secret refuge" has no basis. The valleys that converged on the ravine formed a densely populated region, which dramatically increased its agricultural productivity after the Inca occupation in 1,440. The Incas built many administrative centers there, the most important of which were: Patallacta and Quentemarca, and abundant agricultural complexes formed by cultivation terraces. Machupicchu depended on these complexes for its food, since the fields of the agrarian sector of the city would have been insufficient to supply the population. Intraregional communication was possible thanks to the Inca road networks to Machupicchu. The small city of Picchu became different from neighboring towns due to the unique quality of its main buildings.
On the death of Pachacuteq; According to the Inca royal customs, this and the rest of his personal property would have passed to the administration of his panaca, which had to allocate the income produced to the cult of the mummy of the deceased Inca. It is presumed that this situation would have persisted during the governments of Túpac Yupanqui (1,470-1,493) and Huayna Cápac (1 493-1 529). Machupicchu must have partly lost its importance as it had to compete in prestige with the personal properties of the sovereign successors. In fact, the opening of a safer and wider road between Ollantaytambo and Vilcabamba (that of the Amaybamba Valley), made the route of the Picchu gorge less used.
Time of Transition (1534-1572)
The Inca civil war (1531-1532) and the Spanish irruption to Cusco in 1534, must have considerably affected the life of Machupicchu. The peasant mass of the region was mainly composed of mitmas, settlers from different nations conquered by the Incas, taken by force to that place. They took advantage of the fall of the Cusco economic system to return to their lands of origin.
The Inca resistance against the Spanish led by Manco Inca in 1 536. He summoned the nobles from the nearby regions to join his court in exile in Vilcabamba and it is very likely that the main nobles of Picchu, then left the city . Documents of the time indicate that the region was full of "depopulated" at that time. Picchu would have continued to be inhabited and the record of its existence proves it, since it was considered a tributary population of the Spanish encomienda of Ollantaytambo. That does not necessarily mean that the Spanish visited Picchu frequently; in fact, we know that the Picchu tribute was delivered to the Spanish once a year in the town of Ollantaytambo and not "collected" locally. In any case, it is clear that the Spanish knew about the place, although there is no indication that they appreciated its importance. The colonial documents even mention the name of who was curaca of Picchu (perhaps the last one) in 1568: Juan Mácora. That his name is "Juan" indicates that he had been, at least nominally baptized and therefore subjected to Spanish influence.
Another document indicates that the Inca Titu Cusi Yupanqui, who then reigned in Vilcabamba, asked Augustinian friars to come to evangelize "Piocho" around 1570. There is no known place in the area that sounds like "Piocho" other than "Piccho "Or" Picchu ", which makes Lumbreras suppose that the famous" extirpators of idolatries "could have arrived at the site and had to do with the destruction and burning of the Tower of the Temple of the Sun.
The Spanish soldier Baltasar de Ocampo wrote at the end of the 16th century about a town on top of a mountain of “magnificent” buildings that housed a great acllahuasi (House of the chosen ones), in the last years of the Inca resistance. The brief description that he makes of his environments refers us to Picchu. The most interesting thing is that Ocampo says his name is “Pitcos”. The only place with a similar name is “Vitcos”, an Inca site in Vilcabamba, completely different from the one described by Ocampo. The other candidate is, of course, Picchu. It is not known until today if it is the same place or not. Ocampo indicates that Túpac Amaru I, successor of Titu Cusi and last Inca of Vilcabamba, would have been raised in this place.
Between the Colony and the Republic (S.XVII-S.XIX)
After the fall of the kingdom of Vilcabamba in 1572 and the consolidation of Spanish power in the Central Andes, Machupicchu, remained within the jurisdiction of different colonial estates, which changed hands several times until republican times (from 1821). However, it had already become a remote place, far from the new roads and economic axes of Peru. The region was practically ignored by the colonial regime (which did not order the building of Christian temples or administered any towns in the area), although not by the Andean man. Indeed, the agricultural sector of Machupicchu does not seem to have been completely uninhabited or unknown; documents from 1657 and 1782 allude to Machupicchu, as lands of agricultural interest. However, its main constructions, those in the urban area, do not seem to have been occupied and were soon taken over by the vegetation of the cloud forest.
Machupicchu in the XIX century
In 1865, during his exploration trips through Peru, the Italian naturalist Antonio Raimondi, unknowingly passed at the foot of the ruins and alluded to how sparsely populated the region was then. However, everything indicates that it is during those years when the area begins to receive visits, for interests other than merely scientific ones. Indeed, a recently released investigation currently underway reveals information about a German businessman named Augusto Berns, who in 1867 not only "discovered" the site; rather, he would have founded a "mining" company to exploit the alleged "treasures" that he housed (the "Compañía Anónima Explotadora de las Wacas del Inca"). According to this source, between 1867 and 1870, with the permission of the José Balta government, the company would have operated in the area and later sold “everything it found” to European and North American collectors.
Connected or not with this alleged company (whose existence is expected to be confirmed by other sources); The truth is that it is in those moments, it is when the maps of mining prospects begin to mention Machupicchu. Thus, in 1870, the North American Harry Singer placed the location of Cerro Machupicchu on a map for the first time and referred to Waynapicchu as the “Punta Waca del Inca”. The name reveals an unprecedented relationship between the Incas and the mountain and even suggests a religious character (waca = sacred place). A second map from 1874, drawn up by the German Herman Gohring, mentions and locates both mountains in their exact place. Finally, in 1880, the French explorer Charles Wiener confirmed the existence of archaeological remains in the place (he affirms, "I was told about other cities, Waynapicchu and Machupicchu"), although he could not reach the site. In any case, it is clear that the existence of the alleged "lost city" was not as believed until a few years ago.
Rediscovery of Machupicchu (1894-1911)
The first direct references to visitors to Machupicchu indicate that Agustín Lizárraga, a man from Cusco, land tenant, arrived at the site on July 14, 1902, guiding Gabino Sánchez, Enrique Palma and Justo Ochoa from Cusco. The visitors left a graffiti with their names on one of the walls of the Temple of the Three Windows, later verified by several people. There is information that suggests that Lizárraga had already visited Machupicchu, in the company of Luis Béjar in 1894. Lizárraga showed the buildings to the visitors; although the nature of his activities has not been investigated until today.
Hiram Bingham, an American history professor, who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1907. Interested in finding the last Inca strongholds of Vilcabamba, he heard about Lizárraga from his contact with the local landowner Braulio Polo y Borda, the owner of Mandor (Bingham wrote: “We know that Lizarraga had been a treasure hunter in these forest ten years before our visit ... ”). This is how Bingham arrived in Machupicchu, on July 24, 1911, guided by another land tenant, Melchor Arteaga, and accompanied by a sergeant of the Peruvian civil guard named Carrasco. They found two families of peasants living there: the Recharte and the Álvarez, who used the platforms to cultivate and drank water from an Inca canal that still worked and that brought water from a spring. Pablo Recharte, one of the children of Machupicchu, guided Bingham, towards the “urban area”, covered by the undergrowth.
Bingham, was very impressed by what he saw and negotiated the auspices of Yale University, the National Geographic Society and the Peruvian government to immediately begin the scientific study of the site. Thus, with the engineer Ellwood Erdis, the osteologist George Eaton, the direct participation of Toribio Recharte and Anacleto Álvarez and a group of anonymous workers in the area. Bingham, directed archaeological work in Machupicchu, from 1912 to 1915, a period in which the undergrowth was cleared and Inca tombs were excavated outside the city walls. The public life of Machupicchu begins in 1913, with the publication of all this in an article in the National Geographic magazine.
Although it is clear that Bingham did not discover Machupicchu, in the strict sense of the word (nobody did, since it was never really lost), it is undoubted that he had the merit of being the first person to recognize the importance of the place, studying it with a multidisciplinary team and disseminating their findings. This despite the fact that the archaeological criteria used were not the most appropriate from the current perspective, and despite, also, the controversy that to date involves the irregular departure from the country of the excavated archaeological material (consisting of at least 46,332 pieces) and that only in March 2011 began to be returned to Peru.
Hiram Bingham and his team worked intensively in Machupicchu, excavating almost every square meter. In their environments they found ancient tombs, mummies and remains of 173 people (80% women), attached to their daily life things such as: clothing, pottery, ornaments, etc. After all the work done, Bingham reported, that no precious metal artifact was found. Today that report is refuted by Agustin Lizarraga's widow and her descendants. They claim that the intrepid peasant who settled in the area before the arrival of Bingham, discovered Machupicchu during his explorations, when he was looking for farmland in 1900, they say that Lizarraga came to this lost city using the path of San Miguel, that divides the area and the "Plaza Santa" and that in their successive visits they found some objects such as niches, ceramics, gold and silver. Objects that were sold to a well-known rich merchant in Cusco. This could be true due to the charcoal found by Bingham on the walls of the complex.
Lizarraga, died in very strange circumstances in 1912, left some treasures for his widow that she donated to the convent of Santa Clara in Cusco, after being in Catholic confession, persuaded by the priest so that with his donation he could achieve peace and salvation for your soul.
Machupicchu since 1915
Between 1924 and 1928 Martín Chambi and Juan Manuel Figueroa, took a series of photographs in Machupicchu, which were published in different Peruvian magazines and in this way, massifying local interest about the place and turning it into a national symbol. With the passing of the decades, especially since the opening in 1948, of a carriageway, which climbed the slope of the mountain to the complex, it became the main tourist destination in Peru. During the first two thirds of the 20th century. However, the interest in its tourist exploitation was greater than that of its conservation and study, which did not prevent some notable researchers from advancing in solving the mysteries of Machupicchu, especially highlighting the works of the Viking Found, directed by Paul Fejos, on the Inca sites around Machupicchu (discovering various establishments on the Inca Trail to Machupicchu) and the investigations of Luis E. Valcárcel, who first linked the site with Pachacuteq. It is from the 1970s that new generations of archaeologists (Chávez Ballón, Lorenzo, Ramos Condori, Zapata, Sánchez, Valencia, Gibaja), historians (Glave and Remy, Rowe, Angles), astronomers (Dearborn, White, Thomson) and anthropologists (Reinhard, Urton), are concerned with the investigation of the complex and its past.
The establishment of an Ecological Protection Zone around the complex in 1981, the inclusion of Machupicchu as a member of the World Heritage List in 1983, and the adoption of a Master Plan for the sustainable development of the region in 2005, have been the most important milestones in the effort to conserve Machupicchu and its surroundings. However, some bad partial restorations have conspired against these efforts in the past, forest fires, such as the one of 1 997 and political conflicts that arose in nearby towns, for the sake of a better distribution of the resources obtained by the State in the administration of the complex.
DESCRIPTION OF MACHUPICCHU
The main sectors of Machupicchu, according to the nomenclature used by INC-Cusco archaeologists. The complex is clearly divided into two large areas: the agricultural area, made up of sets of cultivation terraces, located to the south, and the urban area, which is, of course, the area where its occupants lived and where the main activities took place. civil and religious. Both areas are separated by a wall, a moat and a staircase, elements that run parallel to the east slope of the mountain.
The platforms (cultivation terraces) of Machupicchu, look like great steps built on the side of the mountain. They are structures formed by a stone wall and a filling of different layers of material (large stones, smaller stones, gravel, clay and farmland), which facilitate drainage, preventing water from pooling in them (take into account the great rainfall in the area) and its structure collapses. This type of construction allowed it to be cultivated on them until the first decade of the 20th century. Other platforms of less width are found in the lower part of Machupicchu, around the entire city. Its function was not agricultural but to serve as retaining or ornamental walls.
Five large constructions, known as the “Group of Farmers”; Although Bingham called them “Exterior Barracks”, they are located on the platforms to the east of the Inca trail that reaches Machupicchu from the south. They were used as storerooms or warehouses. To the west of the road there are two other large sets of platforms: some concentric with a semicircular cut and others straight.
GUARDIAN'S ENCLOSURE.- At the upper end of these terraces there is a small room that has three walls (Wayrana), known as the “Post of Vigilance” or “Recinto del Guardián”, built in a strategic place has a clear view of the Urubamba canyon in two directions . In the area of ??the "Guardian's Enclosure", they are named as "Funerals"; they are loose boulders, knowingly put in this place, carved like an altar. It is supposed that it served to carry out the entire embalming process; as well as to dry mummies, this stone also had a certain relationship with solar observations.
In the vast south of the "Funerals" is the largest building in Machupicchu, called "Kallanka", which has 8 access openings on the front wall and 2 on the side. Due to its location near the trails, its dimensions and morphology, it must have been a kind of “Tambo” and it must have served as a house for a large number of people. Some name it as "main center" and some others as "Workshops".
DRY PIT AND WALL.- Going from the cultivation sector to the urban sector there is a large “Dry Pit” (used as the main drainage of the city), a Wall (about 400 meters long) and a staircase, which run parallel to the east slope of the mountain, that served to protect the citadel of Machupicchu, this was a very exclusive city and its population was selected from among the nobility, therefore it had a very powerful security and protection system. Crossing the Dry Moat is the Urban Sector.
A wall about 400 meters long divides the city from the agricultural area. Parallel to the wall runs a "dry moat". The door. At the top of the wall is the Machupicchu gate, which had an internal closing mechanism. The urban area has been divided by current archaeologists into groups of buildings. The scheme proposed by Chávez Ballón in 1 961 is still in force, dividing it into a Hanan (high) sector and another Hurin (low) sector, according to the traditional bipartition of society and the Andean hierarchy. The physical axis of this division is an elongated plaza, built on terraces at different levels according to the slope of the mountain. The second most important axis of the city, forms the cross, crossing practically the entire width of the ruins from east to west: It consists of two elements: a wide and long staircase that acts as a “main street” and a set of elaborate sources of water running parallel to it. At the intersection of both axes are located the Inca's residence, the temple-observatory of the Sun and the first and most important of the water sources.
SET 1.- It includes structures related to caring for those who came to the city through the door (a “vestibular area”), stables for camelids, workshops, kitchens and rooms. All this on the east side of the road, in a succession of parallel streets that go down the slope of the mountain. The most important construction, the vestibular building, had two floors and several entrances. On the left hand side of the entrance road there are rooms of a lower rank that would be related to the work in the quarries, located in the vicinity of this sector. All the constructions are of common rigging and many of them were plastered and painted.
SUN TEMPLE.- It was originally a highly protected complex (closed, there are remnants of a security mechanism). It is accessed through a double jamb doorway. In Inca times only the priests and the Inca could use these temples, which is why they remained closed and protected. The entrance to the Temple of the Sun had a wooden door, which on its interior surfaces had a security system with stone rings above the lintel; where this door must have been hung and two stakes were tied into the small boxes carved into the interior jambs, where the door is across the bar.
The temple itself was built on top of a large boulder and has a semicircular floor plan, its rear wall is straight and the temple was built with Inca architecture, that is, with rectangular facing stones with the joints. The semicircular wall has two windows, one of them facing east and the other facing north. According to modern scientists, these two windows constituted the most important solar observatory in Machupicchu; Through the window facing the east it was possible to observe the winter solstice, which by measuring the projections of the shadow of the central stone with precision. Both windows have projecting a faux slat carved out of the face, which certainly served to support the elements that made solar observations easy.
In the center of the temple there is a carved stone altar that served to carry out the various ceremonies that honor the Sun, it is here where the animal sacrifices were performed, to analyze their hearts, lungs and viscera, so that the priests can predict the future. Also here the Inca had to drink the "chicha" (corn beer) together with his father the Sun.
The rear wall has a window with small holes carved into its threshold, which is known as the "Serpent's Window" (name given by Bingham). The holes are very similar to those found in the Temple of the Stars of the Qoricancha in Cusco, which according to Garcilaso said that it kept ornaments of stone and precious metals, possibly these holes had the same purpose. The straight walls of the