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7 September 2013 / leggypeggy

Working out climate change in Peru

Moray, Maras, Peru

The largest agricultural circle at Moray

Climate change—or in this case climate difference—seems to have been a hot topic for centuries.

The Inca understood this and tried to figure out how to make temperatures work to their advantage. The best evidence of their quest is at the Moray archaeological ruins near the village of Maras.

Moray is on a 3500-metre plateau (about 11,500 feet) and while no one can be 100 per cent sure, it seems that the Inca used this site to test and develop plants so they could grow well at varying temperatures.

So how did this work? The site has several large circular depressions with sophisticated irrigation systems. Each depression is terraced and the largest is about 30 metres (98 feet) deep.

Moray, Maras, Peru

Shoring up the collapses at Moray

According to our guide, Herbert, the orientation with respect to the wind and sun mean that temperatures across the depressions can vary by as much as 15C (27°F), making this a great and likely spot for Inca scientists to carry out agricultural experiments and study the effects of climatic conditions on crops.

By moving plants up and down the depressions, they could figure out what grew well where, and also gradually train plants to grow in different climates.

The terraces, built from stone and compacted earth, suffered extensive damage a few years ago when the Cusco region had unprecedented rainfall. Part of the main Moray circle collapsed and reconstruction is currently underway.

We reached Moray by van, but it was great to see people also arriving by bike, motorbike and on horseback. If I manage to get there again, I’ll try to drag Poor John there on a horse. Please don’t warn him!

Next stop: the nearby salt pans.

Moray, Maras, Peru

Looking back over my shoulder at the view from the agricultural circles at Moray


Leave a Comment
  1. chattykerry / Aug 3 2015 12:26 am

    We always assume that we are the only generation to have smart ideas. We have gained and lost so much knowledge over the centuries, Amazing!


  2. macalder02 / Apr 7 2017 10:15 am

    There are still many unknowns to take off from the Incas. Their achievements are surprising because they exceed human understanding. I was fortunate to participate in the cleaning of the Nazca lines because I lived close to the population when I was in Peru. 50 years ago, when I was studying at school and that was a task of the history course. You make me feel nostalgic with your article and also proud of my country. I really appreciate your article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 8 2017 5:49 pm

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. Incan achievements are remarkable and do exceed human understanding. You should be very proud of your country. We loved Peru, and I plan to do a post soon on the Nazca lines.

      Liked by 1 person


  1. Another day at the salt mines | Where to next?

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