First, give yourself three minutes to read this article:

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated in the Andean Mountains of Peru. This ancient site has puzzled historians and archaeologists for centuries, with many theories proposed as to its purpose. Over the years, archaeologists have put forth three possible reasons for the construction of Machu Picchu.

One possibility is that Machu Picchu was built as a permanent royal estate for the Inca emperor, Pachacuti. As the ruler of a major empire, Pachacuti would have needed a luxurious and impressive residence. Located at the top of a mountain, with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, Machu Picchu would have been an ideal location for such a residence. Anyone coming to meet with the emperor would have been impressed by his apparent power and wealth.  This feature might have helped him to maintain his rule over the people of the region.

Another theory is that Machu Picchu was built as a ceremonial and religious center. The Inca were a deeply religious people, and their empire was filled with temples and shrines dedicated to their gods and goddesses.  It is possible that Machu Picchu is just another shrine, albeit a very large one. With its impressive stonework and intricate carvings, it may have been built as a sacred site for religious ceremonies and rituals.

A third possibility is that Machu Picchu was built as a defensive fortress. Located at the top of a mountain and surrounded by steep cliffs, the site would have been very difficult to access, but easy to defend. This strategic location, combined with the strong walls and terraces of the citadel, would have made Machu Picchu a perfect military stronghold. Invading armies would have found it a very challenging target.  Consequently, in times of invasion or domestic unrest, the Inca armies could have retreated to the fortress for safety.

Next, listen to the following lecture:


You have twenty minutes to answer the following question.  You can refer to the article as you write your essay.  You may not listen to the lecture again.

Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they oppose specific points made in the reading passage.

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Here is a sample essay:

The reading and the lecture are about the possible uses of the fortress at Machu Picchu. The author presents three possible reasons why it was constructed. The lecturer, however, argues that none of the suggested reasons is plausible.

First of all, the author argues that it may have been constructed as a residence for the Inca emperor. The article notes that its stunning location would have impressed anyone who visited it, which would have made it an ideal residence for the Inca leader. On the other hand, the lecturer says that the site was very far from the center of the empire. Since the emperor needed to be close to the political and administrative centers of the empire, Machu Picchu’s remote location would have made it a poor residence.

Second, according to the article it may have been built as a religious center. This is because the Inca people were deeply religious and often built impressive buildings dedicated to their gods and goddesses. The lecturer challenges this idea as well. He notes that we haven’t found any evidence that the site was used for religious purposes.  He notes that other buildings, like the Temple of the Sun, have clear evidence of such a use, including things like altars and religious artifacts.

Finally, the author claims that Machu Picchu might have served as a defensive fortress. To be more specific, it was difficult to access but easy to defend. Invading armies would have found it a difficult target to capture. In contrast, the lecturer notes that while the citadel does have strong walls and terraces, few actual weapons or tools have been found there.  Since weapons have been found at other sites, the lack of weapons at Machu Picchu suggests that it was not a military structure.