Inca Trails to Machu PicchuInca Terracing

Andes, Peru


Inca Terracing | Andes Peru
Photo taken in 1965
demonstrating how the Incas terraced agricultural lands in the Andes Mountains region of Peru.  These artificial agricultural terraces are referred to as "andenes" and function to create arable land for agricultural crops in the steep Andean Mountains.  The purpose of the terraces is three-fold.  First, terracing a zone increases the surface area available for crops.  Second, it prevents soil erosion and surface runoff.  Third, using terraces facilitates irrigation.  In areas such as Machu Picchu, irrigation was accomplished via natural artesian springs.  In other area, canals and ditches were built to transport the irrigation water to a given area.  Many of the agricultural terraces that were built during the reign of the Incas still survive and are actively used to produce crops. Undoubtedly, one of the major factors in the success of the Inca culture and the Quechua people was their advanced agricultural technology.  Many of the world's important crops, such as potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), maize (Zea mays), quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), kiwicha (Amaranthus sp.), and avocados (Persea americana), were bred and cultivated by the ancient Incas and by their descendents, the Quechua people, who are one of the indigenous people living in the Andes Mountains of South America.         

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Photograph Copyright Chuck Clark, all rights reserved, Inca Terracing Andes Peru