Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Machu Picchu 101 | National Geographic

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- [Narrator] The stone city of Machu Picchu

is one of the most fascinating archeological sites

on the planet.

Located northwest of Cuso, Peru, Machu Picchu

is a testament to the power

and ingenuity of the Inca people.

During its prime, the Inca civilization stretched

about 2500 miles along South America's Pacific Coastline.

From modern day Ecuador down into Chile.

This distance is nearly the horizontal width

of the continental United States.

Machu Picchu located at the center of this once expansive

empire is one of the few well-preserved remnants

of the Inca civilization.

Built around the mid 15th century,

Machu Picchu is a stunning example

of the Inca's engineering feats.

The Inca constructed Machu Picchu's palaces, temples,

terraces, and infrastructure using stone

and without the help of wheels or tools

made of steel or iron.

One particularly notable aspect of their construction

is foregoing the use of mortar, a material often used

to bind stones together.

Nonetheless, the stones of Machu Picchu

were cut so precisely that they snugly fit together.

Located on two fault lines Machu Picchu

often experiences earthquakes

but because of the stones' exceptional cut and fit,

they bounce during tremors and then are able

to easily fall back into position.

These engineering marvels have preserved Machu Picchu's

remarkable condition for over 500 years.

Machu Picchu's purpose is still a mystery

to many archeologists.

Some theorize that it may have served as a ceremonial site,

a military stronghold, or a retreat for nobility.

The site's geographic layout may be significant

in another way.

Many of both the manmade and natural structures appear

to align with astronomical events.

But in the early 16th century,

only about 100 years after it was built,

Machu Picchu was abandoned.

And since the Inca had no written language,

no records exist to explain the exact purpose of the site.

Although local communities knew about Machu Picchu,

the site remained largely unknown to the outside world

for hundreds of years.

Spanish conquistadors who invaded the Inca civilization

in the 16th century never came across the site.

It wasn't until the early 20th century when Melchor Arteaga,

a local farmer debuted Machu Picchu to outsiders when he led

Yale University professor Hiram Bingham to the site.

Bingham and successive explorers devoted much of their

academic careers to studying the archeological wonder.

Despite its enigmatic nature, Machu Picchu still stands

as one of the world's most important archeological sites.

It is a testament to the power and ingenuity

of one of the largest empires in the Americas.

In 1983, UNESCO designated Machu Picchu

as a world heritage site and today visitors

from around the world come to pay homage

to this piece of history.

The Description of Machu Picchu 101 | National Geographic