Today we drove down the Sacred Valley and visited the town and ruins of Ollantaytambo. Our guide told us that he believes this complex is more impressive than Machu Picchu because it has continued to be an inhabited site for the past six centuries. He also believes that this site was not built entirely by the Incas…He feels the terraces were started by preceding civilizations whom the Incas concqueted and then expanded and improved their existing structures. We saw evidence of this in Jordan…The Romans built pillars on existing Greek bases when expanding their cities.
There is no way to adequately write about the Inca civilization…But I’ll try. The first thing you notice are the terraces. The walls of the three valleys between Cuzco and Machu Picchu are very steep, so the Inchas built stone walls that let them flatten out the slopes, but more importantly, prevent the fields from being washed away when rains tumbled down the mountains. So what you see in Ollantaytambo is terrace after terrace, sometimes reaching as high as 12,000 feet. They also built storehouses for dried corn and potato on the steep slopes high above the towns…This was so the food would stay cold and preserve longer. Above the terraces, were residences and temples for soldiers and astronomers. Two of the three photos above were taken after hiking to the top of the complex. you can see the town below, where most Inca lived, and some of the terraces.
The third photo is Mrs Bear standing in front of a water entry that was built in the 1400s. On one day in June (the Solstice) the sun shines directly through the opening!!! Many of the Inca aqueduct systems are still in use today
Finally one more feature about the Incas. The stones they used to build their temples were huge and weighed tons. They built a series of ramps to transport stones to desired locations. They greased the ramps with sand and water to make the sliding easier. These techniques were similar to the Egyptian processes of building the pyramids. The ramps are still visible today.