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Moray

Archaeological Site of Moray
Archaeological Site of Moray

The Sacred Valley of the Incas holds a treasure of agricultural engineering, discovered just over 90 years ago, and this place continues to be of interest to researchers.

There is no doubt that that the name Moray comes from Quechua, though the exact meaning of the word is unclear. According to various historians, it could have multiple meanings. It is said that it might come from the contraction of the words "Muyu," meaning round, and’s word aAymora, meaning corn harvest and the month of March.

History

Research indicates that the first terraces were built by a culture before the Incas, between the 6th and 10th centuries, possibly the Maras culture, which dominated the territory. The second part was built by the Incas between the 12th and 14th centuries, likely during the territorial expansion initiated by Inca Pachacutec.

The Inca culture brought products from throughout the Tahuantinsuyo territory to plant in the fertile land of Moray, using the agricultural system of the place.

With the arrival of the Spanish conquest, this place was abandoned until 1932 when Shirppe Johnson’s overflight revealed the area, which was full of vegetation.

According to historians, these constructions were an important agricultural laboratory of the Inca Empire. The terraces were built with irrigation channels, and each of them created a microclimate. The significant temperature difference between the top and the bottom of the depressions is striking, with a difference of up to 15°C.

Description

The site consists of agricultural terraces built in giant natural depressions or holes. These terraces are arranged concentrically, forming a giant amphitheater.

There are three circular complexes, ranging up to 150 meters deep, with an average terrace height of 1.80 meters, where the existence has been confirmed of nearly 20 different microclimates.

The terraces are divided into groups of four, each with different temperatures, heights, and characteristics. The first four terraces have a moist climate with temperatures around 0°C. The next four have a higher temperature with a difference of up to 3°C. The last four have a different temperature, varying due to sun exposure and the changing seasons.

This temperature difference is more evident during the dry season, which spans from April to October.

Function of the Terraces

The circular shape of the terraces, with their irrigation channels slightly inclined, facilitated the watering of the entire area. Each terrace offered a different climatic environment, allowing for the cultivation of various types of plants and grains.

What was Cultivated?

The terraces, built on retaining walls filled with fertile soil and irrigated through complex systems, allowed for the cultivation of more than 250 plant species. These included coca leaves and medicinal herbs on the first four terraces, quinoa and amaranth on the next four, and potatoes and corn on the last four.

All About Moray

Location

It is located 53 km from the city of Cusco (1 hour by bus via the Cusco - Maras route), at an altitude of 3,385 meters above sea level. It is in the peasant community of Mullakas Misminay in the province of Urubamba. It covers an area of 37,000 hectares.

Climate

The climate in Moray is temperate, with temperatures ranging from 20°C during the day to 0°C at night. The best travel season is the dry season, which runs from April to October.

Schedule

The archaeological site of Moray is open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The entrance fee is included in the Tourist Ticket.

How to Get to Moray?

You can get to Moray in various ways:

  • With a tour package: Most travel agencies offer all-inclusive tours to Moray.

  • On your own: You can take public transportation to the town of Chinchero and then to the town of Maras, where you can take another means of transport to reach Moray.

Attractions and Tourist Activities in Moray

Moray holds a great deal of history and scenic beauty, making it an ideal location for an incredible photography session.

Inca Terraces

The terraces served as an Inca agricultural laboratory, where they experimented with crops to produce items that could not be grown under other conditions.

Moray Raymi

Every October 8th, the Moray Raymi festival is celebrated, a festivity related to agriculture, accompanied by traditional dances and ritual ceremonies such as the offering to the earth.