Located 40 kilometers north of Cuzco in Peru, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, lies the town of Maras, well known for its nearby salt evaporation ponds, that’s been in use since Inca times. Thousands of uneven square-shaped ponds dot the slopes of the hillside less than a kilometer west of the town.
These pre-Inca salt pools were constructed during the Chanapata culture between AD 200 and AD 900. Highly salty water emerging from the Qoripujio spring, close to the head of the valley, is directed into an intricate network of tiny channels constructed so that the water runs gradually down onto the several hundred ancient terraced ponds. Almost all the ponds are less than four meters square in area, and none exceeds thirty centimeters in depth. The flow of water is carefully controlled and monitored by the workers. The altitude of the ponds slowly decreases, so that the water may flow through the myriad branches of the water-supply channels and be introduced slowly through a notch in one sidewall of each pond.
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