Moray, the research center of the Incas

Vanesa Zegada | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The Incas grew crops over different weathers in one single place and, of course, with no electrical energy and no genetic modifications involved. And to discover how, we will go all the way to Peru and find out the genius way this civilization developed agriculture in a site called Moray, the research center of the Incas.

Between the Inca capital, Cuzco, and the magnificent city of Machu Picchu, we find the Sacred Valley of Incas, which once was entirely populated by this civilization. That is why nowadays, it has plenty of Inca remains. Among them, the Archeological Site of Moray is the only one considered an agricultural research center of this culture.

The concept used in Moray is simple and smart. This is how it worked. Thanks to its specific location and design, every floor of each circular terrace - as the one you see in the picture below - allowed to copy a different climate. The lowest central area has the higher temperature and humidity, and both decrease while going upwards. The weather change is significant. In fact, the temperature difference between the highest and the lowest level can reach up to 15 ºC. That is how with several of these circular terraces, the Incas did emulate 20 microclimates in one single place. 

© iStock/Conrad J Camit

That is why instead of bringing cereals and potatoes from the highlands and fruits from the lowlands, Incas cultivated all of them together in one single place. And researchers believe that the constructions of Moray also served to acclimatize vegetable species by gradually switching them from one to another floor (or station) until they get used to the desired climate type.

Not all of the terraces of Moray have been restored. But even observing the non-restored ones, it is possible to appreciate the remarkable precision of its shapes.

© iStock-SL_Photography

In this and many other Inca sites, terraces are always present. One of the main reasons is that they are better than flat corps when it comes to the efficiency of water usage. And, of course, if you have fresh water coming from the mountains as they did in Moray, it is better not to waste it.

On the other hand, in the Sacred Valley of Incas, the seeds and collected products were stocked naturally free of plagues, thanks to warehouses - called Colpas - strategically located at places at high altitudes, with low temperature and humidity.

© iStock/lovelypeace

On the first Sunday of August, an event called Wata Qallariy takes place in Moray, celebrating the beginning of the agricultural year. It is a celebration where the locals make offerings to thank the “Pachamama” or Mother Earth. The Inca costumes, music and dances, turn the event into an interesting activity.

© iStock-StefanGodierPhotography

Not far from Moray, in the Sacred Valley of Incas, is a charming town called Yucai. Its main square has colonial buildings and Inca ruins alike. Nowadays, Yucai is a tiny town. But in the past, it used to be a residential site of important Inca emperors. That is why its Inca remains are worth a visit.

© iStock/legacy1995

Just as the neighboring Salt Mine of Maras, Moray is proof of the Inca ingenuity and technology. That is why, while you are in Peru, you should not hesitate to make a stopover to visit Maras, the research center of the Incas and get amazed by the inventiveness and precise constructions of this civilization.

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