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Intihuatana

Machu Picchu, Perú

Intihuatana is an ancient stone structure located in the historical site of Machu Picchu, which is situated high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The term “Intihuatana” translates to “Hitching Post of the Sun” in the Quechua language, which was the language spoken by the Inca civilization.

Intihuatana served as an important astronomical and ceremonial device for the Incas. It is believed to have been used as an instrument to observe and mark the movements of the sun, specifically during the solstices and equinoxes. The Incas had a deep reverence for the sun, considering it a deity and attributing its movements to the fertility of the land and the overall well-being of their civilization.

The structure itself consists of a tall pillar-like stone, typically carved from a single piece of granite, rising from a stone platform. The stone pillar has four sides, each facing the cardinal directions. The top of the pillar is smoothly contoured and slightly convex, resembling a table or altar. The Incas carefully positioned the Intihuatana in a way that it aligned with the movements of the sun, casting minimal shadow during the solar events.

The Incas believed that the Intihuatana had the power to harness and control the sun, ensuring the continuity of life and prosperity in their empire. It was also believed to be a sacred place where the Inca priests performed rituals and ceremonies, connecting with the spiritual realm.

Unfortunately, during the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire in the 16th century, many Intihuatana stones were destroyed or damaged by the conquistadors, who aimed to eradicate the indigenous culture and religion. However, Machu Picchu remained hidden and largely intact until its rediscovery in 1911 by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham.

Today, the Intihuatana stone at Machu Picchu stands as a symbol of the ingenuity and advanced astronomical knowledge of the Inca civilization. While visitors are no longer allowed to touch the stone due to preservation efforts, they can still marvel at its craftsmanship and significance, and appreciate the ancient wisdom and spirituality that it represents.

 
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