The Inca fortress of Machu Picchu, located atop a mountain in southern Peru, was occupied between 1420 and 1530 B.C. several decades later than previously thought, according to new radiocarbon dates for human remains found at the archaeological site.
For more than 75 years, based on 16th-century Spanish accounts of the conquest of the region, many historians and scholars have believed that the famous site of Peru was built sometime after 1438.
Archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as a property for Emperor Pachacuti, a hereditary ruler born in Cuzco, the Inca capital in now southeastern Peru.
Now, the discovery that Machu Picchu was inhabited in 1420 – and perhaps much earlier – has implications for the antiquity of the Inca Empire.
Contrasting historical novels written by the Spaniards
Machu Picchu is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, but so far the estimates of its ancient ruins and the duration of its occupation have been based on contradictory historical accounts written by the Spaniards in the period after the Spanish conquest. He said in a statement The study’s lead author, Richard Berger, an archaeologist and anthropologist at Yale University in Connecticut.
To answer some of these discrepancies, Burger’s team used radiocarbon dating to reveal that Emperor Pachacuti, who built Machu Picchu, came to power earlier than planned, according to the statement.
Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS)
Researchers have used Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) so far the 26 burials found in the three Machu Picchu cemeteries excavated at the site during excavations in 1912. The number of burials was chosen to reflect the extent of the site’s occupational history.
AMS-scale dating is an advanced form of radiocarbon dating that can date skeletons with only small amounts of organic material, expanding the range of remains that can be examined.
According to the study, the bodies were buried under rocks, cliffs, or shallow caves, and sealed with masonry walls. There were also funerary goods, such as pottery and bronze and silver brooches for shawls.
“This is the first evidence-based study to provide an estimate of Machu Picchu’s foundation and duration of occupation,” Berger said in a press release.
Implications for Understanding Inca History
Dennis Ogburn, an anthropologist and archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who was not involved in the research, he said to Live Science The paradox of several decades in Pachacuti’s rise to power will have implications for understanding Inca history.
Ogborne said the Inca chronology “shows us not only how quickly their empire expanded, but also how long they had to consolidate their control over the provinces they conquered.”
“Because we are able to review and improve the chronology based on radiocarbon dates, we come to see that the Incas created and began expanding the empire perhaps three or four decades earlier than the chronology indicates. [histórica]”, He said.
Although the study acknowledges the “limitations” of radiocarbon dating, the researchers say the documentary evidence is unreliable.
“It may be time to prioritize radiocarbon testing in reconstructing the chronology of the Inca emperors and the historiography of Inca archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu,” the study says.
Edited by Felipe Espinosa Wang.
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