Study: Machu Picchu Older Than Expected

Posted by on August 13, 2021 in Archaeology, Mysteries, Reality's Edge, Sci-Tech with 0 Comments
image_pdfimage_print

Credit: Photo by Pedro Szekely. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike CC BY-SA 2.0

By Mike Cummings | Phys.org

Machu Picchu, the famous 15th-century Inca site in southern Peru, is up to several decades older than previously thought, according to a new study led by Yale archaeologist Richard Burger.

Burger and researchers from several U.S. institutions used accelerator (AMS)—an advanced form of radiocarbon dating—to date recovered during the early 20th century at the monumental complex and onetime country estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti located on the eastern face of the Andes Mountains.

Their findings, published in the journal Antiquity, reveal that Machu Picchu was in use from about A.D. 1420 to A.D. 1530—ending around the time of the Spanish conquest—making the site at least 20 years older than the accepted historical record suggests and raising questions about our understanding of Inca chronology.

Historical sources dating from the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire indicate that Pachacuti seized power in A.D. 1438 and subsequently conquered the lower Urubamba Valley where Machu Picchu is located. Based on those records, scholars have estimated that the site was built after A.D. 1440, and perhaps as late as A.D. 1450, depending on how long it took Pachacuti to subdue the region and construct the stone palace.

The AMS testing indicates that the historical timeline is inaccurate.

“Until now, estimates of Machu Picchu's antiquity and the length of its occupation were based on contradictory historical accounts written by Spaniards in the period following the Spanish conquest,” said Burger, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology in Yale's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “This is the first study based on to provide an estimate for the founding of Machu Picchu and the length of its occupation, giving us a clearer picture of the site's origins and history.”

The finding suggests that Pachacuti, whose reign set the Inca on the path to becoming pre-Columbian America's largest and most powerful empire, gained power and began his conquests decades earlier than textual sources indicate. As such, it has implications for people's wider understanding of Inca history, Burger said.

“The results suggest that the discussion of the development of the Inca empire based primarily on colonial records needs revision,” he said. “Modern radiocarbon methods provide a better foundation than the historical records for understanding Inca chronology.”

The AMS technique can date bones and teeth that contain even small amounts of organic material, expanding the pool of remains suitable for scientific analysis. For this study, the researchers used it to analyze human samples from 26 individuals that were recovered from four cemeteries at Machu Picchu in 1912 during excavations led by Yale professor Hiram Bingham III, who had “rediscovered” the site the previous year.


The bones and teeth used in the analysis likely belonged to retainers, or attendants, who were assigned to the royal estate, the study states. The remains show little evidence of involvement in heavy physical labor, such as construction, meaning that they likely were from the period when the site functioned as a country palace, not when it was being built, the researchers said.

Tags: , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

New Title

NOTE: Email is optional. Do NOT enter it if you do NOT want it displayed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top
Send this to a friend