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Kenneth R. Wright, president and chief engineer of Wright Water Engineers in Denver, CO USA, has studied and investigated the paleohydrology of Machu Picchu (Peru) and two ancient sites at Mesa Verde National Park (CO). Wright is a civil engineer and business school graduate of the University of Wisconsin. When the mapmakers at National Geographic created an image of how Machu Picchu must have looked during its peak, they turned to Kenneth and his wife Ruth for assistance. The pair gladly accommodated. The following paragraphs about Kenneth and Ruth appeared on National Geographic's (2002) website.

". . . Kenneth Wright has written Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel (ASCE Press, 2000) and many other published reports on the infrastructure of the prehistoric city. Ruth, a lawyer with a special interest in city planning, recently wrote The Machu Picchu Guidebook (Johnson Books, 2001), which contains a highly detailed site map of the ruins.

The couple's interest in Machu Picchu began in 1974, when Ruth first visited the Inca landmark with their two daughters. She was puzzled by how the Inca were able to obtain water for daily needs on such a high mountain ridge.

She posed the question to Kenneth after returning home, and 'we vowed to go back and explore,' Ruth said in a telephone interview. They tried for 20 years to get a government permit to study the prehistoric water supply of Machu Picchu, but were unsuccessful. Finally, in 1994, they obtained permission.

Since they they've returned to the site a dozen times to do in-depth research on paleohydrology, the drainage system, agricultural production, building foundations, and other aspects of infrastructure. . . . The Wrights work closely with local archeologists and government personnel. 'They do the archeology and we do the technical work,' Kenneth said."

According to Civil Engineering (2001) Magazine, "Much of the manpower for the research at Machu Picchu has come from his (Kenneth's) own employees, who volunteer their time and expertise. To Wright, it is a valuable opportunity for employee development. 'They learn a lot from the archeologists,' he says, ‘Discipline, focus, documentation.' Perhaps they also learn from the Inca–the value of engineering for long-term sustainability and of exercising a high standard of care.

Wright's company is the sole source of funding for the research. He sees the pro bono research expeditions as a natural outgrowth of the company mission. ‘The reason it works is that it's the same kind of work we do for clients,' he says. Every week, the staff used to have public relations meetings. ‘We don't have those anymore,' Wright says. The company's paleohydrological work at Machu Picchu, he says, generates so much interest from clients that it renders additional public relations work unnecessary."


  • kwright@wrightwater.com
  • www.wrightwater.com
  • Source:

  • Parsell, D.L., 2002. "How Geographic Re-Created Machu Picchu for a New Map," www.nationalgeographic.com/news, April 17.
  • Brown, Jeff, 2001. "Discovering the Lost City," Civil Engineering, April, p. 39.
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