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Archaeology & History

Machu Picchu could be older than thought

By T.K. Randall
August 4, 2021 · Comment icon 2 comments

Machu Picchu is quite the hike, but the views are worth it. Image Credit: Allard Schmidt
The world-famous Incan citadel, which sits high atop the Andes in Peru, is now thought to be decades older.
For the longest time, it had been believed that Machu Picchu was built sometime after AD1438, but now new radiocarbon dating techniques have cast this figure into doubt - instead suggesting that the site was more likely to have been built a full two decades earlier.

"The results suggest that the discussion of the development of the Inca empire based primarily on colonial records requires revision," said study lead author Richard Burger from Yale University.

"Modern radiocarbon methods provide a better foundation for understanding Inca chronology than the contradictory historical records."
It's the latest twist in the story of one of the world's most iconic locations, with historians having spent decades piecing together the history of Machu Picchu as well as the people who built it.

The new discovery leans on data acquired through accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of the remains of 26 individuals found buried there.

"This is the first study based on scientific evidence to provide an estimate for the founding of Machu Picchu and the length of its occupation," said Burger.

The same techniques could also help reveal a lot more about the site's former inhabitants.

"Scientific methods, particularly on human remains, can give us insight into what the people were experiencing - for example, diet, disease and labour - on both an individual level and population level," said osteologist Dr Trish Biers.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (2)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Myles 1 year ago
Pretty cool, but 20 years doesn't seem to be a game changer.
Comment icon #2 Posted by josellama2000 1 year ago
agreed, but on the other hand, 20 years may be highly important to determine under which Inca (emperor in Quechua language) that Machu Picchu was build.

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