Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Moray – an Agricultural Research Centre From the Ages.

My wife Jo and I have just returned from a memorable trip to Ecuador and Peru.
We organized our trip with the Intrepid company and they looked after us very well. Of course our main objectives were to visit the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. They were indeed stunning, fascinating and thoroughly worthwhile. There was more that we had not expected.

On an outing near Cuzco, in Peru our charming and very well informed guide, Patricia, gave us the option of taking a side-trip to an extraordinary site that dates back at least 2,000 years. It is called Moray.

Once you leave the excellent tarred road the track to the site is a bit dodgy, but there were crews working on the mud and potholes with heavy machinery and we got through.
The extraordoinary 2000 year old site at Moray
There are three amphitheatre-like depressions in the natural contours of the hills, and each has been developed into what looks, at first sight, like an enormous set of bleachers. If the archaeologists have it right they had nothing to do with sport or performance art, but everything to do with agriculture and ag research.

The best preserved of them, the main one shown to tourists, has over twenty terraced levels. The most remarkable feature is that the temperature range between the top and bottom of the structure is 15°C (about 59°F for the unconverted). 

Steps for right and left foot climbers
That is not all. At every level the ancient builders made sure that workers with bad knees, like me, could get up an down to till the land using steps set in the walls. They also thought about irrigation. 

My arrow shows the top water channel
A line of water courses, set one above the other, descends throughout the structure. If you take a close look at this picture on the left you can see a rectangular ruin at the bottom. This is not an old and mis-shapen tennis court, but the foundation of what was almost certainly a storage house. Patricia had never had a guest suggest the tennis idea, but it was fun to see her double take.

Checking me out - but I don't know his name.
As I sat and admired the view this little character, about the size of a house sparrow or a chickadee, came and sat on the adjacent agave plant no more than a couple of metres away. I could not resist! I have scanned through the first ten Google sites on the query “Birds of Peru”, but maybe this fellow is simply too “normal” to get mention or take up disc space. Any expert birders out there?

Our June 2013 Lonely Planets  guidebook has a brief description of the Moray site and tells us that the entry fee is $10. By February it had risen to $15. Still a bargain at the price.

What an amazing place. Thank goodness we took that side trip.


Trevor Herriot said...

Hi Jerry. Here is the response from my friend Ed--

"I'm pretty sure it's a rufous-collared sparrow:

It's a nice bird, I saw it in that same area last year, and also in Chile and Uruguay.

That was a treat looking at that blog, I visited that Moray ruin when I was there when I was 17. I'll have to explore his blog a bit more.

Cheers, Ed"

Jerry Haigh said...

Thanks Trevor, I'm sure Ed is right.
Ed (and you) might enjoy my gallery of African bird pictures - under the buttons photogrpahy > African birds. I collected them over about 8 years and used many for the development of calendars that we sold to raise funds for the two schools we supported in Uganda. There are stories about those schools on the blog.