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The Secrets of Incan Architecture


The Incan Empire was one of the three main empires of South America along with the Mayan and Aztec. The Incas are known for their amazing stonework in temples and palaces. The stones they carved are cut perfectly and still stand strong today. They didn't need mortar or cement because they used lego-like connectors to keep the stones together vertically, and liquid bronze to keep the stones together horizontally. Not every building received this kind of royal treatment, though. The best stonework was found in temples, the second best stonework was used for the kings, and finally the third best was for the priests. The common people and servants got the lowest level of stonework, which was uncut and jagged stones held together by clay.

Surprisingly, the Incas didn't build these stone structures. Our guide Cliser told us that the Incas had no real skills. So who built them? Other groups of people from that time would have built these famous structures. The Incas would reach out to other civilizations that had different specialties and offered to protect them in exchange for taxes paid with talents, depending on their skills. If you were good at running you would be a messenger, if you were good at stonework you would build, if you were strong, you would be a warrior,...etc. That is how the Incas built their empire; by building on other civilization's skills and their own resources to create more.

​Machu Picchu is a great example of how the stonework varies from building to building and how other civilizations would build for the Incas, helping them become a thriving and prominent empire in South America. The Incas didn't enslave anyone. Everyone worked hard to contribute to society. Work was the most important job there was and when everyone contributed their skills it's no wonder that they could build such amazing pieces of architecture.