A group of American researchers has revealed that the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu, the most visited archaeological site in Peru, was established two decades earlier than previously thought, around 1420. The finding confirms what was pointed out by a team of Peruvian archaeologists that the Last year reported this date based on radiocarbon tests on remains of ashes and seeds of the citadel, claimed this Wednesday archaeologist José Bastante Abuhadba, head of the Archaeological Park and Historical Sanctuary located in Cusco, in the south of the country.
Machu Picchu was the political, administrative and religious center of the Andes and the Incas, “but it would function as a capital of those spaces and of the great area of Vilcabamba, built in a neuralgic place of interaction in the Amazon,” describes the official Peruvian.
The newspaper The Guardian reported Wednesday the findings of a team led by Yale University professor Richard Burger, who noted that the results of modern radiocarbon measurement methods “suggest that the discussion of the development of the Inca empire based only on colonial records requires a review ”.
Since the colonial documents do not provide enough information and the pre-Hispanic information registration system based on a system of knots, the quipus, were not interpretable by the Europeans who arrived in the American territory in the 16th century, Burger used a mass spectrometer with accelerators to date 26 human remains from Machu Picchu. The Burger-led team’s research was published in the magazine Antiquity, and suggests that the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu was used continuously between 1420 and 1530, this last date coincides with the Spanish conquest of the Tahuantinsuyo Empire, indicates The Guardian.
“With regard to the dates of the North American colleagues, we are happy that their results are quite similar to ours: the earliest we had obtained for the case of the Inca construction of Machu Picchu was 1420”, says the Peruvian official, who published research with his team in a University of Arizona journal last year.
The head of the Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu explains that the Burger team made the measurement of samples that come from burial caves, “of the individuals that were recovered by the expedition of Hiram Bingham”, the American who is credited with the discovery of the Inca citadel between 1911 and 1912. “They made the measurement of remains before returning the archaeological and bone materials to Peru,” added Bastante. Between 2011 and 2012, the Peruvian government managed to repatriate from Yale University more than 4,800 pieces from the Bingham collection, which in 2019 were declared the nation’s cultural heritage. These pieces are under the custody of the National University San Antonio Abad del Cusco.
Enough points out that the total area of the sacred citadel comprises 37,000 hectares, of which only ten can be visited upon arrival. “There is not only the llacta (citadel in Quechua), there are 60 archaeological monuments in the Machu Picchu park and interdisciplinary investigations are permanent, we work uninterruptedly. In the archaeological site of Choquesusuy, located in the area, we have dated remains from the year 1380. Likewise, much more dating is required, obviously controlled and corrected, ”he adds.
More national visitors
Enough added that since November, when Machu Picchu reopened after closing due to the epidemic, until July 31 last they have received almost 150,000 visitors. The novelty is that the proportion of visitors has been inverted: “now 70% are nationals and 30% foreigners,” he said. The month with the highest number of tourists was July, with 51,868 people.
The head of the Archaeological Park qualifies as extremely interesting this investment in the proportion of national visitors for the first time in the history of Machu Picchu. “It is a benchmark of our identity, of tourism at the national and South American level, but Peruvians have the obligation and the right to visit Machu Picchu in an orderly manner and contribute to its conservation. There must be the respect that one has to have when one goes to a sacred place of any religion ”, he affirmed.
“It is a sacred site due to the mountains, due to the transformation of the landscape by the Incas, the density of temples in the place and because it was not a place of massive dwelling, but rather restricted to those who exercised power. If we were to make the parallel with a Christian-Catholic holy place: visitors do not climb on the pews in a cathedral, nor shout, nor take off their clothes ”, adds Bastante.
Subscribe here to newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.