Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, rushes, heather, or palm branches, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. Since the bulk of the vegetation stays dry and is densely packed—trapping air—thatching functions as insulation, it is a old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates. Thatch is still employed by builders in developing countries with low-cost local vegetation. By contrast, in some developed countries it is the choice of some affluent people who desire a rustic look for their home, would like a more ecologically friendly roof, or who have purchased an thatched abode. Thatching methods have traditionally been passed down from generation to generation, numerous descriptions of the materials and methods used in Europe over the past three centuries survive in archives and early publications. In some equatorial countries, thatch is the prevalent local material for roofs, walls.
There are diverse building techniques from the ancient Hawaiian hale shelter made from the local ti leaves, lauhala or pili grass. Palm leaves are often used. For example, in Na Bure, thatchers combine fan palm leave roofs with layered reed walls. Feathered palm leaf roofs are used in Dominica. Alang-alang thatched roofs are used in Bali. In Southeast Asia, mangrove nipa palm leaves are used as thatched roof material known as attap dwelling. In Bali, the black fibres of Arenga pinnata called ijuk is used as thatched roof materials used in Balinese temple roof and meru towers. Sugar cane leaf roofs are used in Kikuyu tribal homes in Kenya. Wild vegetation such as water reed, bulrush/cat tail, broom and rushes was used to cover shelters and primitive dwellings in Europe in the late Palaeolithic period, but so far no direct archaeological evidence for this has been recovered. People began to use straw in the Neolithic period when they first grew cereals—but once again, no direct archaeological evidence of straw for thatching in Europe prior to the early medieval period survives.
Many indigenous people of the Americas, such as the former Maya civilization, the Inca empire, the Triple Alliance, lived in thatched buildings. It is common to spot thatched buildings in rural areas of the Yucatán Peninsula as well as many settlements in other parts of Latin America, which resemble the method of construction from distant ancestors. After the collapse of most extant American societies due to diseases introduced by Europeans, wars and genocide, the first Americans encountered by Europeans lived in structures roofed with bark or skin set in panels that could be added or removed for ventilation and cooling. Evidence of the many complex buildings with fiber-based roofing material was not rediscovered until the early 2000s. French and British settlers built temporary thatched dwellings with local vegetation as soon as they arrived in New France and New England, but covered more permanent houses with wooden shingles. In most of England, thatch remained the only roofing material available to the bulk of the population in the countryside, in many towns and villages, until the late 1800s.
Commercial distribution of Welsh slate began in 1820, the mobility provided by canals and railways made other materials available. Still, the number of thatched properties increased in the UK during the mid-1800s as agriculture expanded, but declined again at the end of the 19th century because of agricultural recession and rural depopulation. A 2013 report estimated. Thatch became a mark of poverty, the number of thatched properties declined, as did the number of professional thatchers. Thatch has become much more popular in the UK over the past 30 years, is now a symbol of wealth rather than poverty. There are 1,000 full-time thatchers at work in the UK, thatching is becoming popular again because of the renewed interest in preserving historic buildings and using more sustainable building materials. Although thatch is popular in Germany, The Netherlands, parts of France, Sicily and Ireland, there are more thatched roofs in the United Kingdom than in any other European country. Good quality straw thatch can last for more than 50 years.
Traditionally, a new layer of straw was applied over the weathered surface, this "spar coating" tradition has created accumulations of thatch over 7’ thick on old buildings. The straw is bundled into "yelms" before it is taken up to the roof and is attached using staples, known as "spars", made from twisted hazel sticks. Over 250 roofs in Southern England have base coats of thatch that were applied over 500 years ago, providing direct evidence of the types of materials that were used for thatching in the medieval period. All of these roofs are thatched with wheat, rye, or a "maslin" mixture of both. Medieval wheat grew to 6 feet tall in poor soils and produced durable straw for the roof and grain for baking bread. Technological change in the farming industry affected the popularity of thatching; the availability of good quality thatching straw declined in England after the introduction of the combine harvester in the late 1930s and 1940s, the release of short-stemm
Mortar is a workable paste used to bind building blocks such as stones and concrete masonry units and seal the irregular gaps between them, sometimes add decorative colors or patterns in masonry walls. In its broadest sense mortar includes pitch and soft mud or clay, such as used between mud bricks. Mortar comes from Latin mortarium meaning crushed. Cement mortar becomes hard. Mortars are made from a mixture of sand, a binder, water; the most common binder since the early 20th century is Portland cement but the ancient binder lime mortar is still used in some new construction. Lime and gypsum in the form of plaster of Paris are used in the repair and repointing of buildings and structures because it is important the repair materials are similar to the original materials; the type and ratio of the repair mortar is determined by a mortar analysis. There are several types of cement additives; the first mortars were made of clay. Because of a lack of stone and an abundance of clay, Babylonian constructions were of baked brick, using lime or pitch for mortar.
According to Roman Ghirshman, the first evidence of humans using a form of mortar was at the Mehrgarh of Baluchistan in Pakistan, built of sun-dried bricks in 6500 BCE. The ancient sites of Harappan civilization of third millennium BCE are built with kiln-fired bricks and a gypsum mortar. Gypsum mortar called plaster of Paris, was used in the construction of the Egyptian pyramids and many other ancient structures, it is made from gypsum. It is therefore easier to make than lime mortar and sets up much faster which may be a reason it was used as the typical mortar in ancient, brick arch and vault construction. Gypsum mortar is not as durable as other mortars in damp conditions. In early Egyptian pyramids, which were constructed during the Old Kingdom, the limestone blocks were bound by mortar of mud and clay, or clay and sand. In Egyptian pyramids, the mortar was made of either gypsum or lime. Gypsum mortar was a mixture of plaster and sand and was quite soft. In the Indian subcontinent, multiple cement types have been observed in the sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, such as the Mohenjo-daro city-settlement that dates to earlier than 2600 BCE.
Gypsum cement, "light grey and contained sand, traces of calcium carbonate, a high percentage of lime" was used in the construction of wells, drains and on the exteriors of "important looking buildings." Bitumen mortar was used at a lower-frequency, including in the Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro. Building with concrete and mortar next appeared in Greece; the excavation of the underground aqueduct of Megara revealed that a reservoir was coated with a pozzolanic mortar 12 mm thick. This aqueduct dates back to c. 500 BCE. Pozzolanic mortar is a lime based mortar, but is made with an additive of volcanic ash that allows it to be hardened underwater; the Greeks obtained the volcanic ash from the Greek islands Thira and Nisiros, or from the Greek colony of Dicaearchia near Naples, Italy. The Romans improved the use and methods of making what became known as pozzolanic mortar and cement; the Romans used a mortar without pozzolana using crushed terra cotta, introducing aluminum oxide and silicon dioxide into the mix.
This mortar was not as strong as pozzolanic mortar, because it was denser, it better resisted penetration by water. Hydraulic mortar was not available in ancient China due to a lack of volcanic ash. Around 500 CE, sticky rice soup was mixed with slaked lime to make an inorganic−organic composite sticky rice mortar that had more strength and water resistance than lime mortar, it is not understood how the art of making hydraulic mortar and cement, perfected and in such widespread use by both the Greeks and Romans, was lost for two millennia. During the Middle Ages when the Gothic cathedrals were being built, the only active ingredient in the mortar was lime. Since cured lime mortar can be degraded by contact with water, many structures suffered from wind blown rain over the centuries. Ordinary Portland cement mortar known as OPC mortar or just cement mortar, is created by mixing powdered Ordinary Portland Cement, fine aggregate and water, it was invented in 1794 by Joseph Aspdin and patented on 18 December 1824 as a result of efforts to develop stronger mortars.
It was made popular during the late nineteenth century, had by 1930 became more popular than lime mortar as construction material. The advantages of Portland cement is that it sets hard and allowing a faster pace of construction. Furthermore, fewer skilled workers are required in building a structure with Portland cement; as a general rule, Portland cement should not be used for the repair or repointing of older buildings built in lime mortar, which require the flexibility and breathability of lime if they are to function correctly. In the United States and other countries, five standard types of mortar are used for both new construction and repair. Strengths of mortar change based on the ratio of cement and sand used in mortar; the ingredients and the mix ratio for each type of mortars are specified under the ASTM standards. These premixed mortar products are designated by one of the five letters, M, S, N, O, K. Type M mortar is the strongest, Type K the weakest; these type
The Inca Empire known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Its political and administrative structure is considered by most scholars to have been the most developed in the Americas before Columbus' arrival; the administrative and military center of the empire was located in the city of Cusco. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century, its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572. From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation, among other methods. At its largest, the empire joined Peru, southwest Ecuador and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, northern Chile and a small part of southwest Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia, its official language was Quechua. Many local forms of worship persisted in the empire, most of them concerning local sacred Huacas, but the Inca leadership encouraged the sun worship of Inti – their sun god – and imposed its sovereignty above other cults such as that of Pachamama.
The Incas considered their king, the Sapa Inca, to be the "son of the sun."The Inca Empire was unique in that it lacked many features associated with civilization in the Old World. In the words of one scholar, The Incas lacked the use of wheeled vehicles, they lacked animals to ride and draft animals that could pull wagons and plows... lacked the knowledge of iron and steel... Above all, they lacked a system of writing... Despite these supposed handicaps, the Incas were still able to construct one of the greatest imperial states in human history. Notable features of the Inca Empire include its monumental architecture stonework, extensive road network reaching all corners of the empire, finely-woven textiles, use of knotted strings for record keeping and communication, agricultural innovations in a difficult environment, the organization and management fostered or imposed on its people and their labor; the Incan economy has been described in contradictory ways by scholars:... feudal, socialist The Inca empire functioned without money and without markets.
Instead, exchange of goods and services was based on reciprocity between individuals and among individuals and Inca rulers. "Taxes" consisted of a labour obligation of a person to the Empire. The Inca rulers reciprocated by granting access to land and goods and providing food and drink in celebratory feasts for their subjects; the Inca referred to their empire as Tawantinsuyu, "the four suyu". In Quechua, tawa is four and -ntin is a suffix naming a group, so that a tawantin is a quartet, a group of four things taken together, in this case representing the four suyu whose corners met at the capital; the four suyu were: Chinchaysuyu, Antisuyu and Kuntisuyu. The name Tawantinsuyu was, therefore, a descriptive term indicating a union of provinces; the Spanish transliterated the name as Tahuatinsuyu. The term Inka means "ruler" or "lord" in Quechua and was used to refer to the ruling class or the ruling family; the Incas were a small percentage of the total population of the empire numbering only 15,000 to 40,000, but ruling a population of around 10 million people.
The Spanish adopted the term as an ethnic term referring to all subjects of the empire rather than the ruling class. As such, the name Imperio inca referred to the nation that they encountered and subsequently conquered; the Inca Empire was the last chapter of thousands of years of Andean civilizations. The Andean civilization was one of five civilizations in the world deemed by scholars to be "pristine", indigenous and not derivative from other civilizations; the Inca Empire was preceded by two large-scale empires in the Andes: the Tiwanaku, based around Lake Titicaca and the Wari or Huari centered near the city of Ayacucho. The Wari occupied the Cuzco area for about 400 years. Thus, many of the characteristics of the Inca Empire derived from earlier multi-ethnic and expansive Andean cultures. Carl Troll has argued that the development of the Inca state in the central Andes was aided by conditions that allows for the elaboration of the staple food chuño. Chuño, which can be stored for long periods, is made of potato dried at the freezing temperatures that are common at nighttime in the southern Peruvian highlands.
Such link between the Inca state and chuño may be questioned as potatoes and other crops such as maize can be dried with only sunlight. Troll did argue that llamas, the Inca's pack animal, can be found in its largest numbers in this same region, it is worth considering the maximum extent of the Inca Empire coincided with the greatest distribution of llamas and alpacas in Pre-Hispanic America. The link between the Andean biomes of puna and páramo and the Inca state is a matter of research; as a third point Troll pointed out irrigation technology as advantageous to the Inca state-building. While Troll theorized environmental influences on the Inca Empire he opposed environmental determinism arguing that culture lay at the core of the Inca civilization; the Inca people were a pastoral tribe in the Cusco area around the 12th century. Incan oral history tells an origin story of three caves; the center cave at Tampu T'uqu was named Qhapaq T'uqu. The other
The Wari were a Middle Horizon civilization that flourished in the south-central Andes and coastal area of modern-day Peru, from about AD 500 to 1000. Wari, as the former capital city was called, is located 11 km north-east of the modern city of Ayacucho, Peru; this city was the center of a civilization that covered much of the highlands and coast of modern Peru. The best-preserved remnants, beside the Wari Ruins, are the discovered Northern Wari ruins near the city of Chiclayo, Cerro Baul in Moquegua. Well-known are the Wari ruins of Pikillaqta, a short distance south-east of Cuzco en route to Lake Titicaca. However, there is still a debate whether the Wari dominated the Central Coast or the polities on the Central Coast were commercial states capable of interacting with the Wari people without being politically dominated by them. Early on, the Wari expanded their territory to include the ancient oracle center of Pachacamac, though it seems to have remained autonomous; the Wari became dominant in much of the territory of the earlier Moche and Chimu cultures.
The reason for this expansion has been debated. As a result of centuries of drought, the Wari culture began to deteriorate around 800 AD. Archeologists have determined that the city of Wari was depopulated by 1000 AD, although it continued to be occupied by a small number of descendant groups. Buildings in Wari and in other government centers had doorways that were deliberately blocked up, as if the Wari intended to return, someday when the rains returned. By the time this happened, the Wari had faded from history. In the meantime, the dwindling residents of the Wari cities ceased all major construction. Archaeological evidence shows significant levels of interpersonal violence, suggesting that warfare and raiding increased amongst rival groups upon the collapse of the Wari state structure. With the collapse of the Wari, the Late Intermediate Period is said to begin. Little is known about the details of the Wari administrative structure, as they did not appear to use a form of written record, but the emphasis on homogeneous administrative architecture and evidence for significant social stratification suggests a complex sociopolitical hierarchy.
The discovery in early 2013 of an undisturbed royal tomb, El Castillo de Huarmey, offers new insight into the social and political influence of the Wari during this period. The variety and extent of the burial items accompanying the three royal women indicate a culture with significant material wealth and the power to dominate a significant part of northern coastal Peru for many decades. Another example of burials helping to establish social stractifications is in the city of Conchopata where the remains of more than 200 individuals have been found; this city is located about 10 km from the capital city. Earlier it was believed that this was a city of potters, they show that there were servants, middle-class and perhaps low kings or governors. During its expansion period, the Wari state established architecturally distinctive administrative centers in many of its provinces; these centres are different from the architecture of Tiwanaku, believed to have been a more federalized state by some scholars.
Wari architecture had large stone enclosures with no windows and just a few entries, the sites had no central place for people to gather for ritual gatherings. While the Tiwanaku had a more open architectural plan that could accommodate multiple people at once. Using these administrative centers, the Wari influenced the surrounding countryside. Scholars were able to look at the Inca's to reconstruct some of the architecture of the Wari. Along the Inca highway system several Wari provincial sites were found, suggesting that the Wari used a similar road network, they created new fields with terraced field technology, which the Inca's drew inspiration from. The Wari are known for their textiles, which were well-preserved in desert burials; the standardization of textile motifs serves as artistic evidence of state control over elite art production in the Wari state. Surviving textiles include tapestries and tunics for high-ranking officials. There are between six and nine miles of thread in each tunic, they feature abstracted versions of typical Andean artistic motifs, such as the Staff God.
It is possible that these abstract designs served "a mysterious or esoteric code to keep out uninitiated foreign subjects" and that the geometric distortions made the wearer's chest appear larger to reflect their high rank. The Wari produced sophisticated metalwork and ceramics, with similar designs to the textiles; the most common metals used were silver and copper, though gold Wari artifacts survive. The most common metal objects were qiru, jewelry, mummy bundle masks, mantle pins, sheet figures who demonstrate how the tunics were worn. Ceramics were polychrome and depicted food and animals. Conchopata appears to have been the ceramic center of Wari culture given the high quantities of pottery tools, firing rooms, pit kilns and ceramic molds. There is evidence, sometimes accompanying human sacrifice. Wari Empire Willkawayin Tiwanaku Tiwanaku empire Middle Horizon Pocra culture Chuqi Pukyu Collier, Simon et al.. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Latin America and the Caribbean. Cambridge University Press.
ISBN 978-0-521-41322-0. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list Wendell C. Bennett, Excavat
Tambo Colorado is a well-preserved Inca adobe complex near the coast of Peru known under the Quechua names Puka Tampu, Pukallaqta or Pukawasi. The site is located just inland from the south coast of Perú in the Pisco River Valley about 40 km along the highway to Ayacucho known as the Via de los Libertadores, close to the town of Pisco. Initial reports from the 2007 Peru earthquake reported no major damage to the site. A High resolution GPS point was shot at the site datum on 2 Aug 2009 using an L2 GPS; the post-processed position is as follows: Northings: 8484705.386 m Eastings: 410335.884 m Altitude: 484.849 m UTM Zone 18 South, Datum WGS 1984. The site was most built at the end of the 15th century during the reign of the Inca king Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui known as Pachacutec, after the annexation of the merchant kingdom of Chincha; the site owes its name to the abundant use of colors on the walls. Thanks to favorable environmental conditions, many walls at Tambo, both internal and external, retain enough residual colored paint to reconstruct what the original wall painting would have been like.
Color here was applied in horizontal strips of red, black and yellow ochre atop stucco, variation in color would accentuate architectural features such as niches. Trapezoidal niches at Tambo have one or two recesses each used for the placement of important objects; as with all Inca constructions, the overall dimensions of niche construction are standardized across the entire site. The site consists of several structures around a large central plaza; the central plaza is shaped like a trapezoid with its largest side being 150 m long. The main structures are grouped together in a southern part; these structures are known as the Northern palace and the two Southern Palaces, flanked by an Ushnu and a building known as the Utilities Structure. The combination of Chincha and Inca architectural techniques can be seen in the place, it is believed to have been used by the Incas as an administrative and control site on the main road from the coast to the highlands. A small on-site museum is located near the entrance of the complex.
Tambo Colorado Digital Media Archive, data from a UC Berkeley/CyArk research partnership
Dry stone, sometimes called drystack or, in Scotland, drystane, is a building method by which structures are constructed from stones without any mortar to bind them together. Dry stone structures are stable because of their unique construction method, characterized by the presence of a load-bearing façade of selected interlocking stones. Dry stone construction is best known in the context of stone walls, traditionally used for the boundaries of fields and churchyards, or as retaining walls for terracing, but dry stone sculptures, buildings and other structures exist; the art of dry stone walling was inscribed in 2018 on the UNESCO representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, for dry stone walls in countries such as France, Italy and Spain. Some dry stone wall constructions in north-west Europe have been dated back to the Neolithic Age; some Cornish hedges are believed by the Guild of Cornish Hedgers to date from 5000 BC, although there appears to be little dating evidence.
In County Mayo, Ireland, an entire field system made from dry stone walls, since covered in peat, have been carbon-dated to 3800 BC. The cyclopean walls of the acropolis of Mycenae, have been dated to 1350 BC and those of Tiryns earlier. In Belize, the Mayan ruins at Lubaantun illustrate use of dry stone construction in architecture of the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Great Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe, Africa, is a large city "acropolis" complex, constructed from the 11th to the 15th centuries AD. Terminology varies regionally; when used as field boundaries, dry stone structures are known as dykes in Scotland. Dry stone walls are characteristic of upland areas of Britain and Ireland where rock outcrops or large stones exist in quantity in the soil, they are abundant in the West of Ireland Connemara. They may be found throughout the Mediterranean, including retaining walls used for terracing; such constructions are common where large stones are plentiful or conditions are too harsh for hedges capable of retaining livestock to be grown as reliable field boundaries.
Many thousands of miles of such walls exist. In the United States they are common in areas with rocky soils, such as New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and are a notable characteristic of the bluegrass region of central Kentucky as well as Virginia, where they are referred to as rock fences or stone fences, the Napa Valley in north central California; the technique of construction was brought to America by English and Scots-Irish immigrants. The technique was taken to Australia and New Zealand. Similar walls are found in the Swiss–Italian border region, where they are used to enclose the open space under large natural boulders or outcrops; the higher-lying rock-rich fields and pastures in Bohemia's south-western border range of Šumava are lined by dry stone walls built of field-stones removed from the arable or cultural land. They serve both as the lot's borders. Sometimes the dry stone terracing is apparent combined with parts of stone masonry that are held together by a clay-cum-needles "composite" mortar.
The dry stone walling tradition of Croatia was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2018, alongside those of Cyprus, Greece, Slovenia and Switzerland. In Croatia, dry stone walls were built for a variety of reasons: to clear the earth of stone for crops; some walls date back to the Liburnian era. Notable examples include the island of Baljenac, which has 23 kilometres of dry stone walls despite being only 0.14 square kilometres in area, the vineyards of Primošten. In Peru in the 15th century AD, the Inca made use of otherwise unusable slopes by building dry stone walls to create terraces, they employed this mode of construction for freestanding walls. Their ashlar type construction in Machu Picchu uses the classic Inca architectural style of polished dry stone walls of regular shape; the Incas were masters of this technique, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together without mortar. Many junctions are so perfect that not a knife fits between the stones.
The structures have persisted in the high earthquake region because of the flexibility of the walls, because in their double wall architecture, the two portions of the walls incline into each other. A wall's style and method of construction will vary, depending on the type of stone available, its intended use and local tradition. Most older walls are constructed from stones and boulders cleared from the fields during preparation for agriculture but many from stone quarried nearby. For modern walls, quarried stone is always used; the type of wall built will depend on the nature of the stones available. One type of wall is called a "double" wall and is constructed by placing two rows of stones along the boundary to be walled; the foundation stones are ideally set into the ground so as to rest on the subsoil. The rows are composed of large flattish stones. Smaller stones may be used as chocks in areas; the walls are built up to the desired height layer-by-layer and, at intervals, large tie-stones or through stones are placed which span both faces of the wall and sometimes project.
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Choquequirao is an Incan site in south Peru, similar in structure and architecture to Machu Picchu. The ruins are terraces at levels above and below Sunch ` u Pata, the truncated hill top; the hilltop was anciently ringed with stones to create a 30 by 50 m platform. Choquequirao at an elevation of 3,050 metres ) is in the spurs of the Vilcabamba mountain range in the Santa Teresa district, La Convención Province of the Cusco Region; the complex is 1,800 hectares. The site overlooks the Apurimac River canyon; the site is reached by a two-day hike from outside Cusco. Choquequirao has topped in the prestigious Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2017 Top Regions list. Choquequirao is a 15th- and 16th-century settlement associated with the Inca Empire, or more Tahuantinsuyo; the site had two major growth stages. This could be explained if Pachacuti founded Choquequirao and his son, Tupac Inca Yupanqui and extended it after becoming the Sapa Inca. Choquequirao is located in the area considered to be Pachacuti’s estate.
Other sites in this area are Sayhuite, Machu Picchu, Chachabamba and Guamanmarca. The architectural style of several important features appears to be of Chachapoya design, suggesting that Chachapoya workers were involved in the construction; this suggests that Tupaq Inka ordered the construction. Colonial documents suggest that Tupac Inca ruled Choquequirao since his great grandson, Tupa Sayri, claimed ownership of the site and neighboring lands during Spanish colonization, it was one of the last bastions of resistance and refuge of the Son of the Sun, Manco Inca Yupanqui, who fled Cusco after his siege of the city failed in 1535. According to the Peruvian Tourism Office, "Choquequirao was one of the entrance check points to the Vilcabamba, an administrative hub serving political and economic functions, its urban design has followed the symbolic patterns of the imperial capital, with ritual places dedicated to Inti and the ancestors, to the earth and other divinities, with mansions for administrators and houses for artisans, large dormitories or kallankas and farming terraces belonging to the Inca or the local people.
Spreading over 700 meters, the ceremonial area drops as much as 65 meters from the elevated areas to the main square." The city played an important role as a link between the Amazon Jungle and the city of Cusco. According to Ethan Todras-Whitehill of the New York Times, Choquequirao's first non-Incan visitor was the explorer Juan Arias Díaz in 1710; the first written site reference in 1768 was ignored at the time. The Prefect of the Province of Apurimac, J. J. Nuñez, encouraged Hiram Bingham to visit the'Cradle of Gold', in order to discover any Incan treasure. Bingham was a delegate to the 1908 First Pan American Scientific Congress and was in Cusco at the time. Bingham decided to visit Choquequirao in 1909 to determine if it was Vilcapampa, the Capital of the last four Incas, he found three groups of buildings, mummified bodies, places where dynamite had been used in the search of treasure. Visitors who had recorded their names included Count de Sartiges, Jose Maria Tejada and Marcelino Leon, 1834, Jose Benigno Samanez, Juan Manuel Rivas Plata and Mariana Cisneros, 1861, three Almanzas, Pio Mogrovejo, their treasure hunting workmen, 1885.
However, Bingham decided it was a frontier fortress, tempted him to search further. Choquequirao is situated at an elevation of 3,000 m above sea level on a southwest-facing spur of a glaciated peak above the Apurimac River; the region is covered with Amazonian flora and fauna. It is 98 km west of Cusco, in the Vilcabamba range; the complex covers 6 km2. Architecturally it is similar to Machu Picchu; the main structures, such as temples, elite residences, fountain/bath systems are concentrated around two plazas along the crest of the ridge, which encompass 2 km2 and follow Inca urban design. There is a conglomeration of common buildings clustered away from the plaza. Excavations and surface items suggest they were used for workshops and food preparation. Most buildings are well-restored; the terrain around the site was modified. The central area of the site was leveled artificially and the surrounding hillsides were terraced to allow cultivation and small residential areas; the typical Inca terraces form the largest constructions on site.
Many of the ceremonial structures are associated with water. There are two unusual temple wak ` a sites; these are crafted step terraces down a steep slope are designed around water. The site contains a number of ceremonial structures such as the large usnu built on a truncates hill, the Giant Staircase, an aqueduct providing water to the water shrines; the archaeological complex of Choquequirao is divided into 12 sectors. While the contents of each sector are different, terraces used for various purposes are common throughout, it seems that most of the buildings here were either for ceremonial purposes, residences of the priests, or used to store food. Sector I is the most northerly portion of the site. There exist 5 buildings constructed on terraces at varying levels, a temple and a plaza, as well as a smaller plaza