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An image has been built in the popular imaginary, and in the tourist one, that has little or nothing to do with the archaeological site. At that moment I realized that there was a lot of work to do, but where to start?

Muyu means circle or cycle in Quechua and gives us an idea of what we can explain about Moray. The archaeological site is composed of four muyus that make up the inverted hills of the site. Although multiple and very eccentric explanations have been offered, it has been proven that this was a place destined for agriculture, but how did it work and what was it built for?

At Mater Iniciativa we are trying to resolve these questions in order to demystify a place as extraordinary as it is unknown while trying to link the present and the past.

Moray is a technology for which we do not have an instruction manual and which is not easy to study, it is important to mention the scarcity of archaeological research carried out. With a clear direction towards the exhibition, there has not been an effective attempt to understand the context that was lived in this place. John Earls, one of the most renowned Moray researchers, calls for rigorous analysis in the future to achieve a more complete understanding of the site.

What we do know is that the Moray muyus are formations that naturally present microclimatic variations with their great implications. Roughly speaking, every four levels we find a variation of up to a month and a half in the growth cycle of the plants. To have such control over crop growth forecasting was essential in an environment such as the Andes. Possessing this knowledge was highly valued by the Inca social elites, who saw it as an essential way of maintaining their status.

There are two main interpretations of Moray and they are the most widely recognized. However, from our perspective, it is necessary to combine them in order to understand social and use dynamics.

K. Wright’s great technical contribution to the understanding of the hydraulic system stands out. According to his perspective, Moray was a ritual architectural complex. J. Earls, on the other hand, makes a study that integrates different points of view that help to understand Moray as a holistic system: following his premise, it is possible to experiment with variations in temperature, humidity and soil.

To approach an understanding of Moray it is necessary to understand how time has acted here. Wright’s research is carried out after the restoration of Moray, so his analysis is necessarily adulterated. Professor J. Earls’ research is prior to the restoration and does take into account time as a variable that acts and transforms the environment.

Photo: Gustavo Vivanco

The proposal we support for Moray is the coexistence between the economic agricultural production of the site and rituality. Below we describe how.

According to the research, the productive level would not be very high, so the most effective way to take advantage of Moray is to use it for the cultivation of seeds. The seeds would be classified according to their growing conditions, and would be moved to different parts of the territory. This transfer would be carried out within a religious-economic context that crystallized in the pilgrimage.

Photo: Gustavo Vivanco

A priestly charter would direct the experiments and the communication of the results to the officials of the Inka empire in order to manage and maintain production through agricultural policies and, therefore, the livelihood of the population. When the archaeological work was done, it was necessary to adapt it to the gastronomic world.
That is, to communicate in a very different way and conceptualize the key learnings into something that would be part of the experience of the people who visit us every day.

As we know, Mil Centro is adjacent to the boundaries of Moray and much of its concept is associated with this archaeological site. Therefore, we are trying to find ways to draw a conceptual line of connection between the two environments. One way to do this is through learning from technology, from the past and the future, to pose answers to problems that are already realities of the present. We want to learn how to use Moray to address some of Peru’s agricultural problems can be a genuine starting point from which to develop ideas, projects and, ultimately, solutions.

Photo: Gustavo Vivanco

A rigorous investigation of Moray is definitely necessary for a better understanding of the site, as understanding specific contexts of the past allows us to recover techniques and models of production, processing and consumption that can be applied to the present. In this way, by looking back to our origins, we can develop answers to current and future problems.

Marc Cárdenas
Mater team author

Archaeologist and Gastronomist Marc Cárdenas was born in Barcelona. He is an archaeologist and gastronomist with a focus on the study of food as a structuring element of social and cultural events. He has worked on research projects with the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the CSIC-IMF research center. He studied cooking at the Basque Culinary Center, where he worked at Restaurant Compartir and Hispania Brussels. His interests are linked to transmit, from an alternative didactic, the importance of food and its environment. With Mater Iniciativa he carried out a bibliographic review of Moray from an archaeological point of view.

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