Inca Trails to Machu PicchuLiving Rock



Living Rock | Lichens
of living rocks (rocks covered with lichens) at Machu Picchu Sanctuary.  The orange-yellow colored lichens on the granite rocks from which Machu Picchu was carved give meaning to the term "living rocks."  In this image from 1965, these rock steps were still relatively pristine and planar with little wear noticed.  Modern day Machu Picchu must endure "hoards" of visitors and these same rocks are now appear worn and curved, not by the ancient Incas, but by modern tourists.  You can see that these rocks were not brought in from another area, but rather were carved from the original granite rocks that were here before the Incas founded the citadel.  In contrast to Cusco, where the Incas used andesite (a fine-grain rock), all the rocks structures in Machu Picchu were made out of granite (a coarse-grain rock) that is native to the area.  Despite the coarse grain of the rocks, some of the most finely and accurately carved rocks are found in Machu Picchu.  The rock work is so fine that modern day Peruvians are not able to duplicate the quality of the original Inca rockwork during their attempts to reconstruct and repair various rock walls in Machu Picchu.      

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Photograph Copyright Chuck Clark, all rights reserved, Living Rock | Lichens