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Restored Machu Picchu terraces will open for tourists in June

Several ancient terraces have been recently restored at Machu Picchu, El Comercio reports. The terraces are located in the eastern part of the archaeological complex over an area encompassing four hectares, and have been divided into five groups for the purposes of restoration. To date, work has been completed on the first four groups.

machu-picchu-terraceAccording to park director and anthropologist Fernando Astete Victoria, the first three groups will be ready to receive tourists starting in June. In group 1, officially inaugurated this past Saturday, there are 23 terraces and a ceremonial water fountain. Group 4 features several more ceremonial fountains.

Piedad Champi, archaeologist in charge of the restorations, reported that the terraces were constructed between 1470 and 1530. Their presence means that construction of the complex was still ongoing at the time of its abandonment.

Champi said that about 50 percent of the total area had to be reconstructed, due to damage from vegetation growth and rocks falling from the mountain’s peak.

Astete Victoria explained that the terraces probably served as places to experiment with various crops and adapt them for growth in distinct microclimates. They also most likely had a ceremonial purpose, as they face the point of sunrise. Also uncovered in the area were “hammer” rocks that the Incas used to shape larger rocks, which were then used to build the terraces.

He also reported the discovery of a set of stairs that seems to lead from the first group of terraces toward the citadel, but is eventually lost in the forest.

The idea behind restoring this area, located about halfway up the ascent from Machu Picchu pueblo to the mountaintop sanctuary, is for visitors to focus not only on the citadel, but on its entire context as well, according to Astete.

He added that 60 percent of visitors to the Incan ruins descend to Machu Picchu pueblo on foot, making a visit to the terraces convenient.

Source: Living in Peru [February 15, 2011]


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