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President of Peru Visits Ancient Incan Sites - Windows to the Universe

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An aerial view of the lost city - Machu Picchu, Peru.
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President of Peru Visits Ancient Incan Sites
News story originally written on August 1, 2001

Peru's new president, Alejandro Toledo, was sworn in on July 28, 2001. The next day he visited Machu Picchu and Cuzco. There were ceremonies at both locations where Toledo asked for the blessing of the Incan gods. Toledo really wants to help the people of Peru, but he has a really big job to do! He wants to help the poor and homeless people find jobs and homes, he wants to increase teachers' salaries and cut taxes.

People have lived in Peru for a long, long time. The people that first lived there were the ancient Incas. The ceremonies for the new president were held at Machu Picchu and Cuzco because these were important cities in ancient Incan civilization.

Machu Picchu is located between two tall mountain peaks. The city had many levels (you can see some of the tiers in the picture to the left). Even though many centuries have passed since Machu Picchu was built, many of the stones still stand in their original location. The Incas were skilled builders! The ruins consist of remains of staircases, temples, terraces, palaces, towers, and fountains.

Ancient Incas practiced astronomy. Inside the Shrine at Machu Picchu, there is a natural granite rock which is thought to have been used for astronomy. Much of Incan life was linked to the movement of the stars, especially the Sun.

Ancient Cuzco was also closely linked to the Sun. In fact, at the heart of the ancient city, there was a Temple of the Sun called Coricancha. It is thought that Coricancha was an observatory for solstices, equinoxes, eclipses and other important time markers. Religious rituals and daily life (such as in the planting of crops) were based on these time markers.

National Public Radio (NPR) covered Alejandro Toledo's first week as president in detail. Please see their site below for more information.

Last modified August 3, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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