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Uploaded 9 Mar 2008 — 1 favorite
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© Ivan Zadunaisky
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

This is Wiñaywaina, an Inka settlement located at about 2700 mts. (8858 feet) above sea level. It's just around the corner from Machu Picchu, the most famous of Inka sites. The name Wiñaywayna means "forever young" in Quechua.

Landslides and earthquakes are very common in the Andes, yet the Inkas managed to build their mountain communities in places where slides are uncommon and the effects of earthquakes are mitigated. This people really knew how to harmonize their needs with those of Pachamama (Mother Earth). They built these terraces following the contours of the mountain slopes and planted their crops at different heights according to each crop’s particular need for dryness, or coolness, etc.

The majority of our modern cities do not look like something that belongs to the natural setting that surrounds them. Take as an example Mexico City. The ancient Tenochtitlan (the Mexica or Aztec name for the city) was built in the middle of a system of interconnected lakes. The Mexica did not over-extend themselves, and the accounts of the first European visitors describe it as an extremely beautiful city. Today the lakes have become an underground swamp into which the city is slowly sinking. On the other hand, these Inka settlements do not look like something alien to their surroundings. They harmonize beautifully with the mountains and valleys around them. There is so much we can learn from ancient civilizations about ways to make our human impact less of an impact and more of a collaboration!

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