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Sun-Earth Day Presents: Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge

Technology Through Time: Issue #18, Machu Pichu

Sunlight plays an important role in understanding the design of this fabled Inca city. Inca architects designed practical homes for Machu's residents. They also marked in their creations, the ephemeral connection between time and space.


North east of Cusco in the district of Machu Picchu, province of Urubamba
Latitude 13 07 South
Longitude 72 35 West


A number of features distributed throughout the site are aligned with the June solstice azimuth of 65-245 degrees. The Sacred Plaza is enclosed on three sides but is open to the west with an alignment of 245 degrees. The Temple of the Three Windows forming the easterly side of the plaza, opens to the plaza and faces the solstice sunset. The Intihuatana platform is oriented to 65-245 degrees with a shaped replica stone of Huayna Picchu in its center. The solstice alignment, and the importance of solstice ritual to the Inca, suggest that this was a primary ceremonial consideration of this shrine. The Torreon is popularly called the Temple of the Sun. A stone enclosed within the Torreon is reported to receive a ray of sun light through the east facing window during the June solstice.



Image Gallery:

Machu Pichu Machu Pichu Machu Pichu Machu Pichu

Photo Credit:

Jeff Gilbert
Clive Ruggles

Technology Through Time Bulletin Board Activity

This bulletin board activity is designed to focus student attention on the role that sun watching has played in humankind's survival through time. As part of this display you may wish to use your own world map ordownload one we have created for you.

Machu Picchu Links