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art design & oddities

Inca Salt Ponds

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Salineras de Maras, or Inca salt pans located in the Peruvian Andes.
Since pre-Inca times, salt has been obtained in Maras, Peru, by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream. The highly salty water emerges at a spring. The flow is directed into an intricate system 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. All are necessarily shaped into polygons with the flow of water carefully controlled and monitored by the workers.

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As water evaporates from the sun-warmed ponds, the water becomes supersaturated and salt precipitates as various size crystals onto the inner surfaces of a pond’s earthen walls and on the pond’s earthen floor. The pond’s keeper then closes the water-feeder notch and allows the pond to go dry. Within a few days the keeper carefully scrapes the dry salt from the sides and bottom, puts it into a suitable vessel, reopens the water-supply notch, and carries away the salt. Color of the salt varies from white to a light reddish or brownish tan, depending on the skill of an individual worker. Some salt is sold at a gift store nearby.

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The salt mines traditionally have been available to any person wishing to harvest salt. The owners of the salt ponds must be members of the community, and families that are new to the community wishing to propitiate a salt pond get the one farthest from the community.

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8 responses

  1. Been there. Took photos too. Fascinating. Be warned, they had the dirtiest toilets I have seen anywhere!

    July 8, 2014 at 20:47

  2. Wonderful Clicks and colors…:)

    July 8, 2014 at 06:59

  3. wow, this is fascinating! thanks!

    July 7, 2014 at 18:57

  4. Wonderful, what an amazing world we live in…

    July 7, 2014 at 09:56

  5. Impressive!

    July 6, 2014 at 23:49

  6. Reblogged this on dunjav.

    July 6, 2014 at 23:17

  7. There’s industry at work for you.
    Leslie

    July 6, 2014 at 21:34

  8. These terraced ponds remind me somehow those marvellous rice fields in the south of China, in the province of Yunnan to be precise. Both of them are the product of techniches that have their origin in ancestral times; masterworks of echology that give birth to visual works of art. This blog is really interesting, I found it in my way from one of Clanmother’s. Congratulations.
    Lino

    July 6, 2014 at 21:30

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