Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The incredible Inca Salt Ponds at Moras

Hundreds of years old are these salt ponds at Moras in the Inca Sacred Valley.  These ponds, individually owned, at one time produced enough salt for the entire Inca Empire.  Today the salt is exported worldwide.  Viewing these salt ponds, and the fact that all the ponds are fed from one, really small source of moutain water, again impressed me with the Inca´s keen eye for functional design.  How to run little canals, throughout this massive network of ponds, so that every pond received water?  An engineering feat, if you ask me!

There appears to be hundreds of evaporation ponds!
This small stream, containing a high level of salt crystals, was the sole source for feeding all of the evaporation ponds that lined the valley.

Distance view of the valley, with the salt evaporation ponds.

A small canal leading from the little mountain stream, ran along the top ledge of the evaporation ponds.  From this little canal, smaller canals provided water to the ponds below.

The canal network that allowed each of these ponds to be fed with water, boggled my mind!  If you look closely, you can see the small canals that run along each of the ponds.

Each pond was fed from the small river.  To my amazement, each pond appeared to be at a different stage in the evaporation process ..... making the control of the water flow even more complex when one looked at all the ponds!  It was not a simple matter of filling all the ponds at the same time and waiting for them to evaporate..... no, each pond seem to have its own time table for filling with water  and harvesting the salt.

Rustic, but a proven water flow control techniques.  When the pond was full of water, a stone was placed in the small little canal to stop the water flow.

Salt crystals...... the evaporation process in the valley was such that salt could be harvested from each pond, about three times per month.  My mathamatical mind immediately figured out that the evaporation process took about 10 days.  I believe a kilo of salt sells for about 30 cents.  Each pond might produce about 100 kilos three times per month..... I´ll let you do the rest of the math in terms of how much a family might earn per year.

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