Stone Masonry and Engineering at Machu Picchu: No Aliens Needed

Stone Masonry and Machu Picchu

I recently received and email challenging me to produce a coherent explanation of the architecture and stonework of Machu Picchu and other megalithic sites. The questioner wanted to know how anyone else other than aliens could have produced these sites. My initial response was simply to tell him the basics-that these civilizations had left us truly discernible clues as to how the work was done. That was kind of lazy of me (hey, I was on the road).  Now that I’m back, I’ve decided the topic would make a good re-entry into PaleoBabble for me and readers.

Sorry, it isn’t aliens. I’m also sorry that I don’t have anything sexier than studies by geologists, anthropologists, and engineers to offer. Data is boring, I know.  Oh, well.  At any rate, it’s worth noting that many people like my emailer have basically not read anything in the scientific literature about these sites. Instead, they come armed with books by Zecharia Sitchin, or Erich von Daniken, or the latest HBO special propping up the ancient alien hypothesis.  There viewers and readers are told how impossible it is to get stones lined up adjacently to each other so closely that a playing card can’t go between them.  Or that the stones came from quarries hundreds of miles away. Both of these ideas are inaccurate and, frankly, disparaging to the Inca.

Here are a few articles on the Inca that deal with Machu Picchu and other sites. I trust they will be interesting and informative.

Jean Pierre Protzen, “Who Taught the Inca Stonemasons Their Skills? A Comparison of Tiahuanaco and Inca Cut-Stone Masonry,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 146-167.

Jean Pierre Protzen, “Inca Quarrying and Stone Cutting,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 44, No. 2 (May, 1985), pp. 161-182

Susan A. Niles, “Niched Walls in Inca Design,” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 46, No. 3 (Sep., 1987), pp. 277-285

One note of warning on these articles. They are not light reading. This is real scholarship, not the fluff produced by Sitchin, von Daniken, etc.

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134 thoughts on “Stone Masonry and Engineering at Machu Picchu: No Aliens Needed

  1. by the way.. when i stated ‘they’ i meant they as in the incas, mayans, etc.. don’t you think it’s a little too narrow minded to actually believe that they had zero guidance from a higher source or higher sources?? You have to understand they were into spirituality and rituals. They didn’t just base everything on mathematical equations.

    Also don’t you think it’s a little ignorant to think we are the only living beings in this whole entire universe??

    • it’s not ignorant (since we have no actual proof of aliens; and hypothetical equations aren’t proof). But I think you meant “arrogant” instead. It wouldn’t be arrogant since (again) we would say that in the absence of proof. Other words would go better.

  2. You should rename the tag line to your site to:

    Your antidote to cyber-twaddle and WHAT I THINK IS misguided research about the ancient world.

    Because you don’t want a debate, you want to prove others wrong.

    • I’m equal time; if people want to put up peer-reviewed research to the contrary, in support of what I call nonsense, I’ll post it here. So let’s have it.

    • no; a very poor analogy. No one has ever seen a black hole, or dark matter, yet there are good reasons to believe they exist (things like black holes and worm holes are based on equations, not sight). Lots of other examples from the hard sciences would show this is a poor analogy.

      • Black holes can be deduced by the action/reaction of nearby stars. God can not be deduced by the action/reaction of anything. There are oceans there fore god? God can only exist as one of two things: pure imagination, or an ET. One can say God is love, or chi or some other thing but this is thought.

        • I have no idea how this comment is relevant to the post, but it’s approved anyway. You set up a flawed either-or proposition. Do some reading in philosophy, or maybe someone like Polkinghorne (famous mathematician / cosmologist who became a priest and wrote voluminously on his faith and how his scientific work encouraged and solidified it; examples like him could be multiplied easily — I’m not your normal run of the mill churchgoer here; I know too many people in the hard sciences who are serious theists / Christians / Jews who would find your either – or proposition very funny).

  3. Why is it more likely that an ancient culture has all done this, though yet nobody has proven that it is possible with technology, this culture could have had (and even not proven, that it is possible with technology we have today) than that it has been done by a yet unkown, let us say, “power”.

    In your opinion, is it a fact, that the technology used that time, yet is unknown?

    If so, why are you sure, that this ancient culture was capable of inventing and using such technology that now we cant think of?

    Kind regards

    • The materials (articles and what not) posted on this site HAVE shown ancient technology capable of doing these things. You might want to also look at the entries on Baalbek (more recent with other specific examples).

      We *can* think of how they did these things, as the posted materials detail.

      • The posted materials on stone masonry state that it is unknown how the stones at tiwanaco were created (Who taught the Inca…. ) Actually the posted materials on stone masonry are speculative, with no conclusive evidence, more to do with design rather than process, i.e. Pitting is evidence of a step but not the entirety of the process. The tools and process are very clearly still being researched and to suggest otherwise is intellectual dishonest. You are correct in stating we can imagine, but incorrect in saying we know. Aliens? Probably not, but there are missing pieces.

        • Process must be congruent with design. Posts like the one on Baalbek (use of applied physics) and the work of other engineers at other sites (Houdin / pyramids) *do* show that the processes (all of which could be done) are congruent with the processes and the results. Whether any of those were applied (or others were developed) is an open question.

          But the point is easy: you don’t need extraterrestrial intelligence.

  4. I think the previous poster who claims we are ignorant is correct. We are ignorant and arrogance comes from being ignorant. We cant possibly be sure of how or what our ancient past consisted and contained. We only have proof from the monolithic structures which stand in front of us today.

    Even with attempting to disprove someone elses theory by sticking to conventional theories (which i may add have been organised and controlled by the higher powers for us to absorb and take for granted) proves only one thing. Our ability to narrow mindedness continues to display how ignorant we truly are.

    I have searched, visited and read artciles, texts oppinions and theories for years and my job today being a man of science and working with science and computers is to filter out what is dead end nonsense from the possible and most probable. The idea that we have had visitors come down to us in our ancient past explains more than our conventional theories because they would prove fill in our missing links. All around the world people who were able to depict their interactions with these godly beings tried their best to create and illustrate the experience and its only now we are understanding them. The Sumerians, the mayans, the egyptians, ancient greeks they all had similar beliefs and further more access to advance technology devices.

    I for one dont believe that man all of a sudden decided to get clever in the last 4000 years when there is so called proof that we existed more than 15-20,000 years ago. Natural selection sounds more bogus than anything as darwin tries to express that even though we live in the same bucket only a few lucky nad picked creatures were chosen to advance while the rest stayed the same. Any real logical mind would see the error in this theory merely because of the creatures that are still as they are now as they were then. Now if you tell me that alien intervention occured some how like then playing around with the DNA of certain creatures here on Earth then the possibility changes completely. Im not writing darwin off as he may be on the correct road with his natural selection theory only its possible its missing some parts. With the playing of DNA we would infact be selected, just not naturally.

    Its how we believe things to a personal level but i believe as the mayan calendar ends the new age will begin marking how the human race becomes set to travel the path of enlightenment. This will mean more open mindedness and less take for granted attitudes.

    I have started a forum for anyone who has interests in contributing any information or theories to help uncover as much as possible. My goal is to create a pillar of iformation on as many unexplained things as possible to help us understand more and become more aware of whats happening around us.

    • There are several things in here that aren’t coherent (e.g., humans didn’t “all of a sudden” decide to get clever — human technology was a long process, driven by need, and then applied at varying scales for different reasons; the idea that an astronomical conjunction / event will make people more open-minded — why would we conclude that?)

      • Like all of evolution there is no such thing as a long process. Thats what you have been taught like the rest of us to justify where we are today. You need to realise you cant specify anything as a fact since the total amount of variables involves makes the sum of event as random as possible. The only fact that is close to justifying anything along the lines of how we got to where we are is to consider how vast the universe really is. With that the discovery of new stars and planets every day via more advance means of technology which again pushes the boundary question of are we really alone and another thing to consider is the fact that is there possibility of interstellar travel? This question has been answered via adiscovery uncovering that alien bacteria can survive interstellar travel while onbaord some of the most basic means of transport ie meteorites.

        You seem skeptical about many open minded theories because you are designed to think in that certain way. When you start realising how a human mind really works and discover for yourself we are nothing but hard drives with software driving us you then open yourself to realise that when needed that software can make you do anything it wants – but thats another story.

        More to the point here. The proof is in the eye of the beholder. You say we have just managed to simulate how they managed to cut stones back in the ancient day and how they built the crazy made to fit blocks over in machu picchu. I have to remind there is a million different routes to come to the same conclusion….just because we struggled to show how they did it back then does not mean they actually did it that way then. If you have read anything about what sound wave technology can do then you will see they more likely used this type of technology. Everything on the earth has a natural vibration frequency…..if you manage to tap into this technology then you will be able to make 1000 ton blocks as light as a feather. You apply this theory and you have a pyramid in weeks, not decades. Sound technology can also be used to cut into rock more accurately than saws. My point here is to show you that the technology they had then, that we may seem to have lost today does not mean it does not exist. I believe there are people who know the old methods but have kept certain truths from the public to protect some bigger assets, Just like oil……why provide to a solution for a cleaner better fuel which costs less? Why because the fat cats who make millions out of it would lose out of course.

        I would do some more research into secret technology that is around today but disguised as something else…..just look at the whole HAARP project plus the hadron collider

        • Honestly, I think your thoughts are self-defeating nonsense, but they aren’t offensive, so they find a home here.

          Consider this sentence: “You need to realise you cant specify anything as a fact since the total amount of variables involves makes the sum of event as random as possible”

          Does that thought include that sentence?

          • Ok, since your unable to read past a simple set of typos from someone who speed types let me make it simpler for you to absorb.

            You need to realise you cant specify anything as a fact since the total amount of variables involved while evolution took place would equal to multiple theories of what really did happen.

            Is that more understandable?

            If you cant accept a broader oppinion of what could of happened then how are my thoughts self defeating? I consider myself to look at alternative explainations no matter how irrational they are. If there is a possibility that cant be disproved then who are you to shut a theory down?

            You my friend talk and think in one direction thinking. You seem not to queestion much and just believe whats in front of you. Or if im wrong what exactly do you think is going on here? You think man simply came from a monkey and then nature took its course? Pretty much old school thinking but im willing to hear something new from you if you have an alternative oppinion on the standard schooling we all have been given while growing up.

            • typing illegibly would be your problem, not mine.

              I am open to all opinions that are fact-based and data driven. If you don’t have one, that would also be your problem, and not mine.

          • Ok, i can see that when one happens to come face to face with a different perspective on an oppinion of something you begin your response with insults and low profile answers (which I may add do not answer the gritty details of the questions). This is not my problem, neither is it my problem to be stuck using present day theories to explain things which are far beyond our understanding. Your statement in someone elses post – you use fact based and data driven oppinions. What you mean to say is you believe that the present can explain the past. Oppinions that humans had additional help from someone or something hold no truth for you because it is not satisfactory evidence for you. .

            How about this then. Explain to me the mountain top runway found in the Nazca plains, explain what looks to be an ancient landing site for aircraft during the ancient world. Explain to me the melting of huge stone boulders and slabs to fit perfectly together (that not even paper can fit in between them) up over at Machu Picchu. How about that the pyramid is actually older than the Egyptian civilation (therfore how could the egyptians of built it?) – plus that the sphynx is even older than the pyramids and dated about 10,000 bc because of the withering of stone from natural rainfall is im sure explainable by you. All this from scientists that have taken closer looks and were not afraid to question the original poxy stories we were first told.

            Want some more? How about the new found city over in india. This place from readings and scientific evaluations has reported that the site has a radiation level which could only be that of nuclear exposure. Thus since the evidence eliminates certain possibilities such as meteorites etc surely this must mean in the ancient world again humans had nuclear power and possibly atomic weapons? Im sure you have a better explaination to this theory?

            How about civilisations such as the sumerians and their tablets which tell the tale of ETs coming down to earth. Also how they actually detail planets that we did not discover in our solar system till a few years. I guess they used huge stone telescopes and a few levers and pulleys huh? Pretty straight forward stuff im thinking for you.

            You see the fact im making is there is more than meets the eye. I do not throw away the idea that humans may have been resposible for all but that would mean they had access to advanced technology further than that we give them credit for. Plus where it is today and why werent their any traces of it? My oppinion is just as they supplied it they cleared it up when they had finished and moved on. Its not so hard these days to keep a secret from the people why not cover a few things in history also and close the minds of millions who question.

            Another thing you have probably not considrerd is the human religions which have existed through out the ages. Man has always believed in something and naturally you need to ask youself a primitive man must have seen some kind of advanced intervention for them to truly believe.

            My final words to you are these – you cant explain anything with any amounts of data or facts because you are living in a completely different age. The age of those structures, sites and plains are signatures on Earth to remind us that what we really are and where we came from is not found easily from a few years worth of research. Its not about how a block of stone was lifted and put into place high off the ground. There are thousands of techniques to display this. The question is what do the details tell us and can we prove those smaller details.

            By the way, there are researching technologies which are investigating natural vibrations and sound frequencies. The idea is that sound can be used to send a certain frequency to an object and have it defy gravity. Then i guess your pyramid theory by Mr wAllington would be a waste of $!5. By the way the US has already started using sound as certain types of weapon and have demonstrated how deadly it can be. Try also checking out the research with the Hadron collider and the search for the god particle. Another interesting thing going on is the conspiracy with HAARP. Does this thing truly create natural disasters around the world using radio frequencies which irratate the earth causing earthquakes and tsunamis? I will let you make your own mind up because my mind has already set. When you realise there is more to the picture than present day facts and data driven air bags you will start seeing things qith better clarity.

            Good day to you sir – hope the grammer this time is easier on your eyes

            • It’s “grammar” for starters.

              So, let’s reduce all the “examples” to ONE item:

              Show me (and all the readers) WHY these things cannot have been built by humans.

              I know all about HAARP – it’s part of a novel I wrote, but you didn’t do any research on me or you’d know that. I know all about the anti-gravity stuff (that’s in the novel as well and, actually, it’s referred to by people in the field as “gravity modification”).

              So, let’s reduce that one to you telling us all about the evidence that ancient people who didn’t know about germs and washing their hands knew about gravity modification? Let’s have that evidence.

              What you’ve got here is the normal fare: “I don’t know how XYZ was built, so I assume no one else does, and so then I move on to assuming it had to be aliens.”

              I’ve been doing this for years, and this is (always) as far as it goes.

              Surprise me and answer the two questions with actual data that we can all look up and follow.

        • the problem is your not really understanding what im saying in the first place. I give you some example questions and you go and answer with more questions. You have to realise im not here to prove man didnt build anything in the past. Im saying you dont have any proof that they did. All you are doing is speculating with todays technology that its possible to lift a 100 ton rock. Big deal. That doesnt prove the pyramids were built by man nor does it disprove it. My claim is that your data only goes thus far and to add to that fact is that someone who has demonstrated lifting a big stone cant go on to say that they can build the pyramids. Where are they then? Where is the exact replica of the pyramids which you believe was made by man then? If you speak to me about facts and data then surely they would have demonstrated it by now in reality?

          When you wake up and realise you are only touching the edge of technological advancements and science you will then come to realise you cant use what we know today to explain something which existed over 3-4000 years ago – especially when no proof of what tools they used were left behind. This is me just focusing on one thing being the pyramids. There are thousands of bizaar phenomena on Earth and i try to keep an open mind for all but when something doesnt add up or make sense to me (because i too am familar with what we can and cant do today) it begins to stand out like a light in the dark.

          My stand is that you are providing an oppinion, a personal one at that. You take some facts you believe to be authentic and gold star approved and claim x, y, z. It doesnt prove anything though does it because its just a personal oppinion which describes pebble theories to explain mountain sized structures. It doesnt sink with me so easily because i look for a certain logic and not data which only dates a few years. I unlike yourself do not apply faith in what we know today to understand things so far out of sync with our current timeline and thats your error. You compare the two saying we these tools i can do this so that means they did too? How can you be sure of that? The questions are not really who built them its how mainly. Since its fact you cant disprove any theory your personal one has the same credit as a child saying the pyramids were created by dancing stones and through the power of music all connected together in less than 10 mins. Who is there to say this didnt happen?

          Like everything around us that has existed thousands of years before our lifetime things have been controlled and hidden preventing the typical human from uncovering certain sciences and technologies. Imagine it like this, if i could kill using the power of sound why would i need a gun? I would be a killer and my tool would be something which was untrackable and would never lead back to me via dna etc. So why would their be credit with someone trying to explain all my murders with the present technological expertise? Forgve me if i have yet again lost you.

          My oppinion if you really want it. Your too small time to even waste your time trying to figure things out so much bigger than you. The truth of how and who will never fall into the hands of the typical working class man this is the only fact you can be sure of. The human race is a pyramid structure in its own right and you and I my friend are on the botton floor. The way all systems work using this theory means that everything has a single point of control and power. So whatever comes down to our floor today or any other day would have been checked and fabricated specially for us so we would not become a potential threat to anything. This is how we have existed from the beginning of civilisation. Call me a conspicacy theoriest whatever. Ive seen things from my searching to realise that there is more than meets our eye on a bigger scale than trying to figure out forever inconclusive theories about the ancient past.

          If you want to keep marketing your beliefs because you have invested into your fairy tales then im not here to stop you either. My point is that the past is not so easily explainable and even more impossible to prove the who and the how. Ive mentioned before if you go do some research on natural vibration you will see how this theory at some point will prove that using sound frequencies you can lift any weight or in fact defy gravity all together. Then this will write off your wallington theory and the the next day with another new advancement it will write off the anti gravity theory. Read up on the fellow who created the coral castle and makr his quote before death that when asked before death how he did it he only mentioned that he unlocked the secrets of the pyramids. a single 5ft guy on his own using pulleys to move thos emassive blocks? I dont compute that to be possible.

          Anyways, its good to see you think you know whats going on. Least you are in the write direction and i believe at some point from more research you will finally work out whats really going on here. I started exactly the same until i started adding all the bits of puzzle together to see the bigger picture.

          Good luck with your research and data

          • your notes about the pyramid show me you haven’t read any of the solid academic material on Egyptian engineering. I ask questions that are simple and focused, as I don’t have time to write book in the comments section. I want to see what you’d read / your exposure to the academic, peer-reviewed material is (as opposed to the internet, talk shows, and popular books that never go through peer review). The direct questions do that for me. To this point, your replies tell me you are under-exposed, and didn’t pay close attention to what Wallington was saying along with his demonstrations. The peer reviewed material catalogs all the artefactual evidence for Egyptian engineering knowledge — how they did what they did and solved the problems you apparently still think mystified them. If you are interested, I recommend going back through the archives here for book and article titles and then reading that material.

  5. Hello, I just recently discovered your site, I am not an expert in anything related here but would like to get your opinion on this.
    Christopher Dunn has shown the almost perfect symmetry in statues in Egypt, Which seems extraordinary to me, also the number of blocks in the great pyramid and the time that we are told it took them to build it don’t seem to add up.
    I appreciate your intellect and making easy access to the sumerian text corpus is much appreciated. Perhaps we could share a fire some day, being trapped in dusty rooms full of unknown(100%) translations is not my idea of
    God Bless Eric

    • symmetry doesn’t need alien involvement; it requires engineers, and the Egyptians had good ones. I don’t know what doesn’t add up about the blocks. Wally Wallington has shown (with his “Egyptian lever/pulley” that 200 people could handle the number of blocks with such a method (naturally scaled up) in ten years. I’d advise you to buy Wallington’s video: and watch the whole thing. Home video, but well worth it. The best $15 you’ll spend in a while.

  6. I was about to waste my time reading Sitchin’s “fluff”, thanks to you i have decided to take a different approach in studying ancient history for my own personal enrichment.

  7. No one will probably ever know if ancients have ever been here. I long ago became someone who realized that new things can only be learned with a completely open mind. From what I have come to see about the possibilities of ancient visitors, if my life depended on making the right choice, I would say that ancient beings have been here, as well as the possibility of their still observing how we are choosing to live, as we unfortunately continue to make this world less livable for future generations.

  8. I have come to believe that fringe explanations, like aliens building complex Mezo-American structures, stimulate the thinking of those who may not have a full appreciation of the magnitude of labor and skill required to produce these marvels. This transforms the thinking of a tourist from, “Gee, these are some really nice stone buildings” to “How in the heck did they produce such precision work after quarrying and hauling these stones up a mountain…it must have been some super-human force.” For the willing mind, this requires looking at research of the type you cited. It certainly gives me a greater appreciation of what concerted, directed human effort can produce, with or without modern technology.

    • To say it is 1 in a billion anyone could have made this is an understatement. Currently the odds are less than 1 and 7 billion and counting, but I’m not a gambling man.

      • BTW, Marcus, I met Von Daniken in the early 70′s when he spoke informally at the University of Tennessee. I was working for the university radio station at the time, and I recorded the talk. I asked a question or two myself, and had him sign one of his books for me. Whether there is truth to his theories or not, he is one sharp individual.

  9. I have just read one of the learned discourses that describe the way the stones were moved and placed into position, OK, fine but when it comes to actually working the stone the author can only come op with ‘To obtain the smooth finishes, the perfectly planar faces, and exact right interior and exterior angles on the finely dressed stones, they resorted to techniques unknown to the Incas and to us at this time’.

    Whichever way you look at it they must have used some pretty advanced skills, techniques and tooling to
    accomplish these results. I would be interested to hear your description of the tooling employed and how it was used.

    • What tooling? At least large parts that I have looked at I have seen no tooling marks whatsoever.

      • Let’s have data. It’s YOUR burden to give us all actual data for a “no tools” creation – and for your silly “one in a billion” comment. The reality is that these sites are well known, the techniques are well known. These ancient people were skilled at applied physics. They could split, smooth, and align stone. That’s what’s needed. They were good at it. I’m giving them credit for their skill.

        • Lets see.. how about the no toolmarks data? What do you propose they used, lasers? I know how they were made but not going to tell you lol. you will have to figure it out yourself.

        • There is no evidence of tooling.

          However I do know how it was done but you will have to figure it out yourself or if any readers are interested they can contact me on facebook. Here is a hint; Chemistry.

          The options aren’t only aliens or bronze tools lol.

          • For the record, I’m not taking your word for anything. Please send me a citation to some article or book produced by people who’ve worked on the site for the no tooling claim. I will post that here. Until then, I don’t believe your claim.

  10. Thats it, you give just a couple links and call it a day? I think it is you who is the one disparaged…

  11. You think it is disparaging an ancient group of people to question how exactly it was built because not one of the 7 billion people currently on the planet could even come close to this stone work?

  12. Keep babbling and plugging your ears so you don’t see te truth when it smacks you on the forehead.

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