Peru 'ignoring threat' to Inca site
June 23, 2001 - BBC
A leading archaeologist has accused the Peruvian Government of failing to act
on a report that suggests the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is in danger
of falling off its mountain perch.
Dr Frederico Kauffmann is calling on the National Cultural Institute of Peru
to urgently set up an inquiry into a recent survey by Japanese geologists who
found the earth beneath Machu Picchu is moving.
According to the Japanese, there are alarming signs that the mountainside
beneath the 2,250-metre-high city could give way in a potentially catastrophic
landslide within the next few years.
To study the geological activity in the mountain, the researchers from the
Disaster Prevention Research Institute at the Kyoto University set up sensitive
instruments buried in the steepest slopes around the citadel.
The team found that the soils were moving at a rate of up to one centimetre a
were master stone-masons, crafting walls out of massive blocks of granite so
tight fitting that it is impossible to slip a piece of paper between them. But
gaps have begun to appear in some of the constructions, hinting at movement
All around the spectacular razor-back ridge that the Incas built on, there
are other warning signs: deep scars on the jungle-clad slopes left by landslides
caused by natural erosion in the geologically young Andean mountains.
The mountain perch where the Incas established their homage to the gods of
the Sun and the Moon is also split by no less than five geological faults.
The Incas were aware of just how unstable the region was when they started
building 500 years ago. They were careful to protect the city when they built
the foundations, and they did such a good job that there's very little damage to
Machu Picchu until now.