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Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel [Paperback]

Kenneth R. Wright , Alfredo Valencia Zegarra , Ruth M. Wright , Gordon, Ph.D. Mcewan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

October 2000 0784404445 978-0784404447
"Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel" takes readers inside the Lost City of the Incas for a groundbreaking perspective never before seen by tourists or archeologists. Built high in the Andes on a seemingly impossible site, Machu Picchu stands as a testament to Early Native Americans and their ability to plan and build. How was it possible to create a mountain-top city complete with running water, drainage systems, food production, and stone structures so advanced they have endured for over 500 years? Authors Kenneth R. Wright and Alfredo Valencia Zegarra explain these and other mysteries, based on their original engineering and scientific research. A fascinating book, "Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel" is a must-have for civil engineers, archeologists, armchair travelers, and tourists alike. An illustrated walking guide and detailed map allow readers to become familiar with each building and pathway, and numerous photographs take readers on a breathtaking pictorial adventure.

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Machu Picchu, the famous "Lost City of the Inca," has fascinated and captivated archaeologists for five centuries. The royal estate of Pachacuti, an Inca ruler, was built in the fifteenth century and abandoned barely more than a century after its construction. How could the "primitive" Inca construct a city on top of a mountain? How could they solve the intricate problems of drainage, of water supply, of architecture? This detailed study of the city's construction is downright spellbinding. The prose may be a little dry-- its authors, with the exception of attorney Wright, are scientists by trade--but it is also clear and precise. The book tells us as much about the practical challenges of building a city as it does about the mysterious Inca, and it should be an immediate hit with armchair archaeologists and fans of the kind of ancient civilization documentaries that are a staple on PBS's Nova . Pricey but useful wherever there is interest in the topic. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Enhanced Our Trip! Nov. 12 2002
For the University of Denver Water Law Review,
Vol. 6, Issue 1, Fall 2002
Coloradans Ken and Ruth Wright have teamed with Peruvian archeologist Alfredo Valencia to place back in working order the sixteen fountains of Machu Picchu. You can see for yourself.
The Inca were master water handlers. They chose Machu Picchu as a ceremonial center because the mountains and the river spoke to them of life-giving power. The Urubamba River far below snakes triangular around the base of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains. A saddle between these peaks cradles the temples, rock shrines, dwelling places, and agricultural terraces that dance between the clouds in early morning and emerge to sunlight by Noon.
Water at the center of it all. The paleo-hydrologic studies of the Wrights and Valencia reveal how the Inca predicated the design and construction of Machu Picchu upon the flow of a spring. From high on the side of Machu Picchu Mountain, a canal brings water across an agricultural terrace to the first fountain just above the Temple of the Sun. From there, sixteen fountains splash, spout, and sing down a staircase to the Temple of the Condor.
The May 2002, issue of National Geographic Magazine contains yet another map of Machu Picchu deriving from the Wright-Valencia partnership. This map shows how magnificent Machu Picchu must have looked with its thatched roofs uplifted to the condor sky.
Underneath your feet at every turn is the invisible sixty-percent of Machu Picchu. In their Civil Engineering book, Ken and Alfredo describe the genius of Machu Picchu's foundational structure. The Inca edifices and agricultural terraces stand the test of time because of careful drainage and methodical trenchwork.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Machu Picchu - A Civil Engineering Marvel July 30 2001
Abandoned for centuries and overgrown by dense subtropical forest, this awesome city in the sky has been the subject of speculation and conjecture since Hiram Bingham first disclosed it in 1911. Now, for the first time, the wonders of Machu Picchus' construction and water supply are revealed in a new book by Kenneth R. Wright and Alfredo Valencia Zegarra. Anyone who has read Bingham's Lost City of the Incas, or who has visited this ancient city of the Incas or who yearns to journey there, should read this new and searching volume that delves into and solves many of the mysteries of Machu Picchu. Why was it built, how the site was selected, and what were the critical criterial criteria that were met to make the ridge top site suitable for an alternate home for the Inca Pachacuti? Machu Picchu served as a residence, a fortress and a holy place. The developement of a water supply, the construction of terraces for agriculture and the remarkable and enduring granite structures were well concealed by its unique location. Near vertical cliffs, the roaring Urubamba river all contributed to the concealment of Machu Picchu from the Spanish invaders How an ancient people, without the written word, without instruments and steel tools so capably built and prospered there for more than a century is now revealed in this landmark book that will increase both the awe and respect of the reader for the Inca people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Miracle of Machu Picchu July 11 2001
The story of Machu Picchu is a tribute to the prehistoric Native Americans who planned and built this mystical mountaintop royal estate for Emperor Pachacuti between AD 1450 and 1540. The authors have, at last, defined for scientists and layman alike what makes Machu Picchu such a beautiful and special place: the innumerable details of Machu Picchu, when combined into a whole, create a visual and spiritual experience that is unparalleled in the New World.
Properly, this book is dedicated to the young Yale explorer Hiram Bingham, John Rowe and Pat Lyons of the University of California/Berkeley, Richard Burger and Lucy Salazar of Yale University, and several others who had a hand in supporting the research work in both the United States and Peru.
Ten chapters, 160 photographs, many sketches and maps, in conjunction with a detailed index, provide both the scholar and casual tourist with a description of Machu Picchu that is a must-read before leaving Cusco for the trip down the Urubamba River to see this most important archaeological ruin of the Western Hemisphere. The book is designed so that much of the story can be appreciated even if one only looks at the photographs and reads the captions; much like a National Geographic magazine.
Chapter 1 explains the when, where and why of Machu Picchu along with it ancient climate. Site selection reasons are described; here you will learn why the Inca chose such a difficult site for construction and how the mountain and water played a major role in its choice. In Chapter 2, you will learn about the Inca-period planning that went into the royal estate so that it would function.
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A major contribution, this book is a treasure of up-to-date archaeological documentation plus analysis and interpretation of the architecture and engineering of the legendary Inca site. As scholar and frequent academic study-tour leader to Machu Picchu, I can attest to the accuracy of the authors' observations presented in a lucid text and complemented by a wealth of excellent black-and-white photographs, detailed site plans and architectural drawings. In an unusual collaborative effort, American engineer Kenneth R. Wright and Peruvian archaeologist Alfredo Valencia Zegarra join their expertise to describe with painstaking care the multiple challenges that were faced by the Inca builders including geography, site selection, engineering infrastructure, city planning, water system, drainage, agriculture, stonework, and construction methods. In addition, Gordon McEwan contributes an essential chapter on the cultural backgrounf of the Inca civilization; and Ruth M. Wright's "Walking Tour" chapter provides a concise, clear guide for exploring the main site as well as other attractions nearby. Destined to become a classic and model study for other Inca sites, this is an invaluable resource for experts in the field and general public alike.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it before you go, take it with you
Great book that goes way beyond the standard guide book fare. It inspired me to make the trip after reading it, to see first hand how the ancient Inca Empire created a complete... Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2001 by Jon Girand
5.0 out of 5 stars Skilled Ancient Civilizations
Don't let the title scare you if you are not an engineer. Reading through the book is like taking a stroll with the ancient men who planned, designed and built this great site. Read more
Published on July 25 2001 by Robert Ackerman PE
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark Study!
Machu Picchu, A Civil Engineering Marvel is an extraordinary accomplishment. It is not merely a travel book or ruins guide. Read more
Published on July 3 2001 by Kenneth R. Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Technical folk who can write!
Engineers who can write! The book is a delight to read. The story has fascinated ever since Hiram Bingham discovered the place a century ago. Read more
Published on July 3 2001 by Kenneth R. Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel
Fascinating book for anyone who has ever wondered how such a place could have existed in such a lovely, remote location. Read more
Published on June 23 2001 by Hank Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonder and Mystery
Ruins left by ancient civilizations frequently excite the wonder and admiration of modern-day readers. Read more
Published on June 21 2001 by Dr. David C. Colony, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Discovery
Machu Picchu, A Civil Engineering Marvel takes the reader on a journey that reveals many aspects of the Inca culture that have been previously unknown. Read more
Published on June 19 2001 by Alan Ingham
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers to your questions
During a comprehensive two day tour of Machu Picchu I had many questions regarding the basic engineering of the site, which the guides were unable to answer. Read more
Published on June 17 2001 by russ fetrow, retired engineer
5.0 out of 5 stars Will appeal to a wide audience
This engineering focus on the achievement of Machu Picchu will appeal to a wide audience, from civil engineers and archaeologists to travelers and tourists. Read more
Published on May 16 2001 by Midwest Book Review
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