Mechanical analysis of the dry stone walls built by the Incas
1 Departamento de Ingeniería Civil y Ambiental, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
2 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA, USA
Published online: 30 June 2017
In this paper, the retaining walls in the agricultural terraces built by the Incas are analyzed from a mechanical point of view. In order to do so, ten different walls from the Lower Agricultural Sector of Machu Picchu, Perú, were selected using images from Google Street View and Google Earth Pro. Then, these walls were digitalized and their mechanical stability was evaluated. Firstly, it was found that these retaining walls are characterized by two distinctive features: disorder and a block size distribution with a large size span, i.e., the particle size varies from blocks that can be carried by one person to large blocks weighing several tons. Secondly, it was found that, thanks to the large span of the block size distribution, the factor of safety of the Inca retaining walls is remarkably close to those that are recommended in modern geotechnical design standards. This suggests that these structures were not only functional but also highly optimized, probably as a result of a careful trial and error procedure.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.