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Who Built Machu Picchu? A short history of the Inca

The Story of Llactapata: Machu Picchu's Observatory Gary R. Ziegler

This is a short non-academic summary of our recent explorationsand investigations at Llactapata originally appearing in the December 2005 issue of Dig Magazine, a publication of Archaeology Magazine designed for kids. It serves as a brief introduction to this remarkable Inca period archaeological region and its close relationship with nearby Machu Picchu.
Sit vis nobiscum GZ

The area that we designate as the Llactapata Archaeological Zone is approximately four kilometers long by 2 kilometers wide, containing more than 80 man made structures and features which we have organized into five sectors. The zone at it central part is 4 1/2 kilometers from Machu Picchu.

The three central groups, Sectors I-III, are situated on a direct east-west line along an easterly running ridge descending from the Salkantay highlands above. The groups form an area approximately 600 meters long by 160 meters wide, extending downward from 2760 meters to an altitude of 2600 meters. The two upper groups, Sectors I and III, are 140 meters apart with Sector I some 30 meters lower in altitude. The lower Sector II is 250 meters distance down slope at an altitude 2630 to 2600 meters. Sectors IV and the largest sector, V are roughly 1000 meters distant. More features undoubtedly remain to be located between sectors now surveyed and identified by the present investigation. -

The Inca designers of Machu Picchu chose an impressive location on the eastern fork of two long ridges running down from the heights of the sacred ice peak Salkantay to build their architectural masterpiece. On the western ridge, some 4 kilometers distance, Inca planners located other groups of buildings and an agricultural settlement connected to Machu Picchu by a winding, stone lined pathway.

While working at Machu Picchu during 1912, Hiram Bingham and several helpers briefly explored the nearby western ridge. Bingham reported finding "the ruins of an Inca castle which deserved further study", then moved on toward Salkantay. During the five hours worked there, he drew a map of seven rectangular buildings with wall niches (trapezoidal openings) and a double jamb (double framed) entrance way, indicating an important or ceremonial function. Bingham called his castle, Llactapata, or high town in the andean language, Quechua.