South America

Huaca Pucllana

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Huaca Pucllana is an great adobe and clay pyramid located in the Miraflores district of central Lima, Peru.  It was an important ceremonial and administrative center for the advancement of the Lima Culture, a society which developed in the Peruvian Central Coast between 200 AD and 700 AD.

The Great Pyramid was constructed to give elite clergymen complete religious power and ability to control the use of all the natural water resources.

Other remains from the earlier Wari Culture (500 AD-900 AD) were also found on this site.

Qorikancha – Temple of the Sun (Peru)

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Quorikancha was originally named Intikancha or Intiwasi and was built around 1438-1471 CE. Located at the old Inca capital of Cusco, it was mostly destroyed after the 16th century war with the Spanish conquistadors. Today, the early stonework serves as the foundation for the Santo Domingo church and convent.

To build Quorikancha, the Inca used ashlar masonry, which is composed of similarly sized cuboid stones (an no stones had any slight imperfection or break).  This type of masonry showed the importance of the building through the extent of the labor necessary to build.

The walls were once covered in sheets of gold, and an adjacent courtyard was filled with golden statues. Spanish reports tell of its opulence that was “fabulous beyond belief”. The Spanish required the Inca to raise a ransom in gold for the life of one of its leaders, Atahualpa, effectively stripping Quorikancha of all of its gold.

After major earthquakes, the church has been severely damaged, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly-interlocking blocks of stone, still stand.

Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel in southern Peru.  At 7,970 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu sits high above the Sacred Valley northwest of Cuzco.

Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). It is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The estate was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered the site in 1911.

Built in Inca style with polished dry-stone walls, there are three primary structures: 1. Intihuatana, 2. the Temple of the Sun, and 3. the Room of the Three Windows.

UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site in 1983.

Ollantaytambo Inka Ruins

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Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru about 45 miles from Cusco.  At 9,160 feet above sea level, Ollantaytambo was during the mid-15th century the royal estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region and built the town and a ceremonial center. During the Spanish conquest of Peru, Ollantaytambo was a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance.

Moray

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Moray is an archaeological site in Peru approximately 50 kilometres northwest of Cusco on a 11,500 foot high plateau. The site contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several terraced circular depressions, with depths as large as 98 feet.

The purpose of these depressions is uncertain, but their depth, design, and orientation with respect to wind and sun creates a temperature difference of as much as 27 °F between the top and the bottom.  Because there is also an irrigation system, the site was thought to be used for farming different varieties of maize and other vegetables that required different climates.  Though the technology is attributed to the Inca, the lower portions of the complex are thought to date from the pre-Inca Wari culture.