What Ancient Civilization Lived in Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is one of the most fascinating and iconic places in the world that has remained a mystery for centuries. The ancient civilization that lived in Machu Picchu was the Inca civilization, which flourished in South America from the 12th to the 16th century.

History of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, which means “old peak” in Quechua, was built by the Incas around 1450 AD. It served as a royal estate for Emperor Pachacuti and his family but was abandoned a century later during the Spanish conquest of South America.

It remained hidden from the outside world until 1911 when it was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham. Since then, it has become a popular tourist destination and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Inca Civilization

The Inca civilization was one of the largest and most advanced pre-Columbian civilizations in South America. They were skilled engineers, architects, farmers, and warriors who built an extensive network of roads and bridges throughout their empire.

The Incas worshipped many gods, including Inti (the sun god) and Pachamama (the earth goddess). They believed in reincarnation and mummified their dead to preserve their bodies for eternity.

The Construction of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was constructed using traditional Inca techniques without any mortar. The stones were precisely cut to fit together perfectly, making it earthquake-resistant. The city was divided into two sections: the urban sector with temples, palaces, and public spaces; and the agricultural sector with terraced fields for farming.

The Incas used a sophisticated irrigation system to transport water from nearby rivers to their crops. They also built stone staircases that connected different levels of terraces on hillsides.

The Abandonment of Machu Picchu

The exact reason for the abandonment of Machu Picchu by the Incas is unknown. Some historians believe that it was abandoned due to a smallpox outbreak or because of the Spanish conquest.

Another theory suggests that it was abandoned due to environmental factors such as soil depletion and erosion caused by deforestation. The Incas were known for their sustainable farming practices, but the increasing demand for resources may have led to ecological degradation and ultimately forced them to abandon Machu Picchu.


Machu Picchu is not only a testament to the ingenuity and skill of the ancient Inca civilization but also a reminder of their tragic demise. The city’s impressive architecture, stunning views, and rich history continue to attract visitors from all over the world. If you ever get a chance to visit this magnificent place, make sure to explore its many wonders and learn more about this fascinating civilization.