Secrets of Machu Picchu

(ORDO NEWS) — Hidden in the Andes, at an altitude of 2430 meters above sea level, Machu Picchu, located near Cusco in Peru, is often referred to as the lost city of the Incas.

These days, you cannot claim that he is still lost. With over 1.5 million tourists visiting in 2018 (before the pandemic), it is a popular tourist destination that was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

The ruins of Machu Picchu, meaning “Old Mountain”, were rediscovered on July 24, 1911 by American explorer and Yale archaeologist Hyrum Bingham after being abandoned for 400 years.

While it is credited with being considered one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century, it was actually brought there by locals who used the site to grow crops. However, Bingham was the first to excavate Machu Picchu, leaving to posterity a lot of information, documents, maps and photographs.

Although it was discovered over 100 years ago, it is still a hotbed of scientific controversy, with archaeologists and historians continuing to debate its origins. The news is often full of new research and excavations, as more than one generation of archaeologists continues to be inspired by his legend.

The old Inca trail leads through the mountains to the city of Machu Picchu. Archaeologists believe that the city was built around 1400 AD by King Pachacuti, who abandoned it with the arrival of the Spaniards. However, local legends say that Machu Picchu was a sacred place built much earlier. Therefore, it is not entirely clear why it was built, by whom and how.

Machu Picchu is a city of over 200 buildings, temples, houses, paths, fountains and altars carved from gray granite on top of a mountain.

There is no evidence of fortified walls, which means it was not a fortress. Many of the stone blocks weigh over 50 tons (45 metric tons), and they are all cut and fitted together without the use of mortar and so precisely that it is puzzling how the ancient Incas were able to build such a monumental site.

Archaeologists are hypothesizing why Machu Picchu was built. One of them says that it was created as an astronomical observatory.

A special stone at the highest point, known as the Intihuatana stone, was used to pinpoint the two equinoxes as well as other celestial events. Local shamanic legends call this stone the gateway to the world of spirits. The idea was that a person touching the stone with his forehead opens up a vision of the spirit world.

Other main buildings inside the city of Machu Picchu are the Temple of the Moon, the Temple of the Sun and the Hall of the Three Windows. Unfortunately, Machu Picchu has no written evidence or carvings to prove that this was the site’s sole purpose.

In 2011, archaeologist Thierry Jamin joined forces with French engineer David Crespi, who spotted what appeared to be a door among the ruins while visiting Machu Picchu in 2010. Upon closer examination, they decided to request permission from the Ministry of Culture to conduct a geophysical survey using electromagnetic conductivity instruments.

Their work seems to have confirmed that several rooms were hidden beneath the ruins, which they believed were filled with metal, gold, and silver.

After asking permission to open the “door” which they assumed was Pachacuti’s tomb, the authorities denied their request. David Ugarte, director of the Regional Cultural Institute in Cusco, said there was not enough evidence to justify an archaeological expedition based on “the intuition of these treasure hunters”.

This study is not the only amazing work related to Machu Picchu. A study by Yale University archaeologist Richard Burger and published in the journal Antiquity in 2021 used state-of-the-art radiocarbon dating techniques for human remains from Machu Picchu (accelerator mass spectrometry), which led to the conclusion that the site was ” at least 20 years older than accepted historical records suggest.”

Given that the established timeline is based on stories written by the invading Spaniards, this new evidence would make it appear that Pachacuti actually ascended earlier than previously thought.

The development of technologies, such as lasers and drones, allows archaeologists to make new discoveries more often. In 2022, the Journal of Archaeological Science published information about the study of Chachabamba, a ceremonial site near Machu Picchu.

First discovered in 1941, this new technology has helped archaeologists at the University of Warsaw’s Center for Andean Studies discover ruins that had previously remained hidden in the forest.

The new research helped the team understand the role of these stone-built terraces, baths and water channels, as well as how they were used by the Inca civilization. According to Dominika Sieczkowska of the University of Warsaw, quoted in NBC News, visitors to Machu Picchu “had to stop at Chachabamba for a spiritual bath to be clean and pure,

More than a century after archaeological research began at Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca ruins are still revealing their secrets. As technology advances and experts ask new, deeper questions, we are getting closer to understanding the history of Peru’s most attractive place.

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