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 mass spectrometry (AMS) — an advanced form of radiocarbon dating — to date human remains 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 …….