Exploring an Ancient Sacred Center
Series: World Heritage and Monuments
Machu Picchu, recently voted one of the New Wonders of the World, is one of the world's most famous archaeological sites, yet it remains a mystery. Even the most basic questions are still unanswered: What was its meaning and why was it built in such a difficult location? Renowned explorer Johan Reinhard attempts to answer such elusive questions from the perspectives of sacred landscape and archaeoastronomy. Using information gathered from historical, archaeological, and ethnographical sources, Reinhard demonstrates how the site is situated in the center of sacred mountains and associated with a sacred river, which is in turn symbolically linked with the sun's passage. Taken together, these features meant that Machu Picchu formed a cosmological, hydrological, and sacred geological center for a vast region.
Johan Reinhard is currently (2007) an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society and a Senior Research Fellow at the Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C. He is a recipient of the 1987 Rolex Award for Enterprise in the field of exploration, and in 1992 he received the Puma de Oro, Bolivia's highest award in the field of archaeology. Dr. Reinhard has conducted research in the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador since 1980.