Machu Picchu is older than previously thought, scientists say, after releasing the results of new findings. A study led by Yale University professor Richard Burger has revealed that the famous Inca citadel was occupied earlier, from around 1420. The team of researchers has used radiocarbon dating to bring forward the date of construction of one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
The team of researchers led by Burger discovered that the emperor Pachacuti, who ordered the construction of Machu Picchu, came to power earlier than previously thought — historians had previously dated the construction of Machu Picchu to around 1440 or 1450. This new date not only helps to establish the antiquity of the citadel, but also to understand other Inca conquests.
Richard Burger and his team an accelerator mass spectrometry, AMS, which is employed for the dating of human remains. In this way they achieved much more precise dates than they had until now, allowing them to understand the time of the first conquests of Pachacuti, an important part of the expansion of the Inca Empire in pre-Columbian America.
In a statement reported by CNN, the researchers explain that AMS can be used with small amounts of organic material. Therefore, they analyzed the remains of 26 individuals buried in the cemeteries of Machu Picchu, and who were found in 1912.
This is the first study based on scientific evidence that provides an estimate of the foundation of Machu Picchu and the duration of its occupationRichard Burger
With the new data, it can be known that Machu Picchu was occupied between approximately 1,420 and 1,530. Until now, historians have based their theories on the records made by the Spanish conquistadors upon their arrival in the New World.
Although researchers are aware of the limitations of carbon dating, they believe it is more reliable than documentary evidence. “Perhaps the time has come for radiocarbon evidence to take priority in reconstructions of the chronology of the Inca emperors and the dating of monumental Inca sites such as Machu Picchu,” said Burger.
Machu Picchu is the most famous and visited monument in Peru and one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. With this data, it is known that it was occupied between 1420 and 1530 approximately, more than a century that coincided with the expansion of the Inca Empire through several countries of America.