A Brief Look at Machu Picchu’s Infrastructure

-A Brief Look at Machu Picchu’s Infastructure- 

An agricultural metropolis perched high atop a jagged mountain peak.

With only the use of 15th century primitive tools, the Incan civilization once converted a mountainous terrain cladded with jungle-covered granite rock into the aesthetically magnificent urban agricultural empire of Machu Picchu. The Incans harmoniously constructed Machu Picchu directly into a topography that would naturally repel humans; a sheer cliff burdened with constant landslides, torrential rainfall, and seismic activity. Situated between two fault lines, the reality that the city remains intact today is a miraculous feat of ingenuity. Constructed around 1450 AD, Machu Picchu represents a timeless masterpiece of civil engineering even by contemporary standards, yet concerning self-reliant urban agricultural capacity, Machu Picchu remains in a class of its own.  Even with the benefit of modern technology, there are no existing urban systems that rely coherently on food production from within.mpterraceMachu Picchu is supported upon a terrace system that purposefully controls rain water runoff, hillside erosion and agricultural cropland. A network of terraces provided a foundation where crops were cultivated and inconspicuously assimilated within the immediate vicinity of living quarters. Each terrace was specifically designed to permit a high degree of subsurface water permeability. Rather than eroding topography with rainwater runoff, the terrace system controlled saturation of water through precisely coordinated strata, percolating the water deep into each terrace substructure. Foundational support contributed by this water drainage system enhanced agricultural capacity and has led to Machu Picchu’s structural longevity.


The Incans cultivated their own food productions amidst the confines of Machu Picchu’s intrinsic infrastructure. Perched high atop a mountain, the only obvious source of physical fresh water was situated about 450 meters below in the Urubamba River. Despite this complication, the Incan’s adapted a site-specific solution to supply the city with this invaluable resource.  Fresh water from a natural spring located 749 meters from Machu Picchu was channeled to city fountains through a water canal constructed of precisely fabricated stones. In a miraculous feat of hydraulic engineering, the fountains of Machu Picchu still flow with purified water from the naturally replenished spring to this day.

By integrating crop production into immediate living quarters, the inhabitants of Machu Picchu were able to flourish in an urban environment that sought vitality upon self-reliant methodology. With unmistakable ingenuity, the Incans created an agricultural metropolis without the use of iron, steel, modern technologies, a written language, or use of the wheel. Machu Picchu worked with nature by celebrating its natural contours and available resources. The Incan’s built an exceptional city that integrated humans harmoniously into their environment.




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