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Featured Article: Machu Picchu

View of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu (Quechua language: Old Mountain; sometimes called the "Lost City of the Incas") is one of the most well known sites of the Inca Empire. The ruin, located high in the Andes Mountains, forgotten for centuries by the outside world, was brought to international attention by Yale University archaeologist Hiram Bingham, who rediscovered it in 1911. It is one of the most important archaeological centers in South America, and as a consequence, the most visited tourist attraction in Peru. Since 1983, the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Theories of its use vary. Bingham initially claimed it was a sanctuary for Sun Virgins; the famous Intihuatana ("hitching post of the sun") and elevated location led to ideas of astrological and spiritual purposes; others regard its natural beauty as suggesting it was used as a country retreat for Inca nobility. It was abandoned at the time of the Spanish invasion of Peru, although whether the Spaniards discovered it at that time is debatable. Regardless of its actual purpose, Machu Picchu remains an incredible combination of natural beauty and human creativity.

Popular Article: Code of Hammurabi

An inscription of the Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi, created ca. 1780 B.C.E., is one of the earliest sets of laws found and one of the best preserved examples of this type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. The code is a collection of the legal decisions made by Hammurabi during his reign as king of Babylon, inscribed on a stele.

The text contains a list of crimes and their various punishments, as well as settlements for common disputes and guidelines for citizens' conduct. It focuses on theft, property damage, women's rights, marriage rights, children's rights, slave rights, murder, death, and injury. The Code does not specify a procedure for defense against charges, though it does imply one's right to present evidence. The stele was openly displayed for all to see; thus, no one could plead ignorance of the law as an excuse. Scholars presume that few people could read in that era and that much of the code was handed down through oral communication.