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Intihuatana of Machu Picchu

Posted on : 16 May 2021

Intihuatana of Machu Picchu

Intihuatana (Quechua) means “where the Inti is tied” (Inti = sun) and this served as an astronomical calendar to foresee agricultural and construction actions, as well as for Inca astronomy.

Machu Picchu was built by order and desire of the Inca Pachacútec, although it is likely that the Inca Pachaqutec discovered much older ruins (the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Temple of the Condor) and chose to build the city on the ancient foundations.

Intihuatana of Machu PicchuAt the end of the 16th century, the Viceroy of Peru Francisco de Toledo (Spanish viceroy) ordered the destruction of the Intihuatanas throughout Peru. This is part of the evangelization plan of Spain. In 1911 the intihuatana of Machu Picchu was found intact by Hiram Bingham (discoverer of Machu Picchu) which indicates that the Spanish of the colonial era of Peru did not know its location.

The single clock of the Incas “intihuatana” of Machu Picchu was carved directly in the rock of the area in ​​the summit of the mountain. It is characterized by having flat surfaces and angles whose purpose is unknown. Current archeology does not have a rigorous explanation of who this previous culture may have been.

Intihuatana of Machu PicchuThe whole of the Intihuatana area includes two long access stairs, to the north and the south.

The shape of the Intihuatana starts from a stone base with different levels and in the upper part a cubic protrusion rises, so its 4 faces indicates a cardinal point: north, east, south, and west. It is believed that the Intihuatana was used as a sundial, as it aligns with the position of the sun during the winter solstice. In the Andean worldview, we believe that the stone keeps the sun in its place throughout its path in the sky. At noon (during the equinox), the sun is almost on the pillar, without casting any shadow. On June 21, the Intihuatana casts the longest shadow on its south side and on December 21, a much shorter shadow on its north side. The Intihuatana is one of the most beautiful and enigmatic places in Machu Picchu.

NOTE: The Intihuatana of Machupicchu suffered irreparable damage: On September 8, 2000, when a production team was recording a commercial for TV, a camera crane fell on the Intihuatana, breaking 8 cm from the top. The case led to a lawsuit by the National Institute of Culture of Peru and a request for the respective compensation, in 2005.

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