"Your Guide to the Inca Empire"
About Peru History

The Intihuatana Stone

by Manish
(India)

One of the most famous relics of Inca civilization found in the ancient city of Machu Picchu is the Intihuatna stone. Much has been said of its function and it has already been established that the stone points to where the sun is during the Winter Solstice.

Credit should be given to first foreigner who was able to set foot in Machu Picchu for the name given to the ritual stone. Hirham Bingham III, a Yale academician coined the name from the Quechua words inti meaning sun and wata meaning to tie. Hence the name intihuatna means a device to tie up the sun. It was the belief of the Inca that the stone held the sun in place as it moved along the sky. On significant days, the sun stands exactly on top of the pillar and those days, as you may have already guesses, are the equinoxes which falls on March 21 and September 21.

It was this finding that made researchers conclude that the stone was an ancient clock or calendar.
An unfortunate accident almost left damage the Intihuatna stone. During the filming of a television commercial for a beer brand, a 1,000 pound crane manned by crew contracted by the J Walther Thompson advertising agency fell on the stone.

Whether it can be regarded as fortunate, a small piece of the rock chipped off. Federico Kaufmann Doig, a leading Peruvian archaeologist issued a statement mentioning the importance of Machu Picchu as a heritage site and the Intihuatna stone being the heart of Machu Picchu.

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