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The Intiwatana at Machu Picchu is a notable ritual stone that has been described as an astronomic clock, a type of sundial, or a calendar of the Inca. The Inca believed the stone held the sun in its place along its annual path in the sky. The stone aligns with the sun’s position during the winter solstice (June 21), casting its longest shadow on its southern side . At midday on the equinoxes the sun stands almost above the pillar, casting no shadow at all.

In Quechua, “inti” is the name of “the sun” and “wata-” is a verb root meaning “to tie or hitch (up).” The “-na” suffix indicates a tool or place. Hence inti-wata-na is literally an instrument or place to “tie up the sun,” often colorfully conveyed as “The Hitching Post of the Sun.”