The Center of the Universe Revisited


As I posted while abroad, we visited Machu Picchu with a Peruvian Archaeologist named Victor Yanez.  Although I spoke breifly about our pilgrimage to the site, I do not think I did it justice.  So after much contemplation and a perusal of our photographs here is my updated account.

Machu Picchy means “old Mountain” in the Quechua language.  The site is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of Cusco.


In an earlier post on the Andean Cross, I talked about the 3 levels of the universe: the sky, earth, and underworld.  The city of Cusco was laid out in the shape of a puma, representing the earth.  This pattern continues with Machu Picchu, which is laid out in the shape of a condor, representing the heavens. In one areas there was a formation of rocks, some natural and other worked, places as to create a condor.  We could walk into a cave at its center, into the condor and through to the other side.

The sacred geography is recreated in the built environment throughout the site.  In many places rocks have been carved in exact replica of the Andean Mountains behind them.

The heavens are integrated into the site through the use of astronomy.  In several areas, on the summer solstice light will shine through the windows to illuminate sacred stones.  There were also 2 viewing pools, basins with water that reflected light.

Although known locally, Machu Picchu was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.  Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site.

There are several theories about how Machu Picchu was used during prehistory, but that will have to wait for another day…

*Photos courtesy of Patrick Lebo, aka Pachagordo…


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. a
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 12:38:39

    I love your stories


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Chair of Social Science, Humanities,
& Foreign Languages

Liberal Arts & University Transfer
Craven Community College

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New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252.638.7328
Fax: 252.638.3231

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