The Moray - Incan Corn Laboratory

The moray was a labortory for the Incans to experiment with Corn and other agricultural crops to find out what crops were best to grow in what climates. The Incas used the Moray as an agricultural laboratory. By using their knowledge of the sun, wind, altitude, and irrigation, each step, about 3m/10ft tall, represents a temperature change of about 0.5 degrees Celcius/1 degree Fahrenheit.

All together there is a 15C/27F degree temperature change between the bottom step and the top step at the site. So the Incan's were able to create one site that had a range of 27 degrees farenheit. The temperature at the Moray would vary by 27 degrees even though it was the same geographic location.

This allowed the Incas to try different mixes of seeds and plants to find the optimal growing conditions for certain plants. They were massively succesful. During the Inca times there were about twice as many varieties of corn and potatoes as there are today.

It consists of amazing circular terraces that look like rings. They were used to cultivate and acclimate agricultural crops such as potatoes, corn, quinoa, kiwicha, winter and summer squash, and even coca. We know this thanks to the seeds that were found there during excavations and palynological studies of ancient pollen.

In reality the site consists of four laboratories although only one is completely restored and open to tourists. The other three are not restored. The earth of these terraces is very fertile. They were filled with dirt brought from other places on the backs of llamas.

For the construction of the terraces, the Incas relied on limestone. Their supporting walls hold stairs that are flying or aerial stairs since they are flat stones incrusted in the walls. This strategy made sense in that it did not require the taking of agricultural land for stairs.

As with all Incan sites, irrigation was built in to the Moray and the bottom step served as a reservoir of water and a drain. The terraces have irrigation canals that channeled water. They are still there although water no longer flows through them. In Inca times, the most important activity was agriculture. People would come together in communal work to clean the canals frequently.

The agricultural laboratory of Moray is built on a base of porous rock that allows water to filter to other places and also has subterranean canals that keeps the place from flooding.

Moray is also considered a temple to Pachamama, the Lady Earth, and in the month of August, which is her month, a large ceremony is carried out here involving a payment to the earth in show of our reciprocity to her.