One of the most well-known archeological sites in the world, the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru is actually much older than we thought. Until recently, scientists believed that the ancient cites was inhabited sometime after 1440 CE, however according to new radiocarbon dating, it was built several decades earlier.
According to a recent study of scientific remains on the site, scientists discovered that the new timeline for Machu Picchu’s creation is closer to 1420 – 1530 CE.
Anthropology professor at Yale, Richard Burger, led a team of researchers in the recent study. The team studied the bones and teeth of 26 people buried at the site. It relied on the use of accelerator mass spectrometry, or AMS, to retrieve reliable dating for human remains found on site.
The question is why did historians have it wrong in the beginning? According to the study, researchers had to rely on written accounts of the time. The study explained that, “The scarcity of reliable radiocarbon measurements for Machu Picchu was the result of a widely held opinion among archaeologists working in the Andes that such analyses were unnecessary because the accurate dating of Inca sites such as Machu Picchu could be established on the basis of Spanish historical accounts. Until recently, archaeological work at Cuzco has produced few radiocarbon dates for Inca-period sites, and even recent in-depth studies have relied on Spanish chronicles for dating.”
The researchers found that “The uncalibrated radiometric measurements range from 550±20 BP–345±20 BP, and when these results are calibrated and arrayed in chronological order they appear as a series of overlapping curves extending over most of the fifteenth century and into the early sixteenth century. The burials are spaced across this time range, with no indication for any obvious gaps, such as a bimodal distribution that might suggest a hiatus and reoccupation of the site. The results therefore indicate a single unbroken occupation of Machu Picchu between c. AD 1420 and 1530.”
With the new data discovered, it is not as easy as just to correct the history books. The new finding will have a much larger impact on history and further research to come. The updated timeline will allow historians to put together a much more accurate account of the incredibly successful Inca empire. “Perhaps the time has come for the radiocarbon evidence to assume priority in reconstructions of the chronology of the Inca emperors and the dating of Inca monumental sites such as Machu Picchu.”
You can read the full study on the AMS data from Machu Picchu in Cuzco, Peru by clicking here : https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/new-ams-dates-for-machu-picchu-results-and-implications/323804857B6EE4DD85B5B337F9E3C933