Machu Picchu’s far-flung residents | Science News


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Machu Picchu’s far-flung residents

Royal retainers may have been sent from all over to inhabit the lofty Inca site

1:21pm, September 30, 2008
High in Peru’s Andes, the skeletons of people buried at the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu tell a tale of displacement and devoted service. A new chemical analysis of these bones supports the previously postulated idea that Inca kings used members of a special class of royal retainers from disparate parts of the empire to maintain and operate the site, which served as a royal estate.

Dramatic differences in the remains’ ratios of certain chemical isotopes that collect in bone indicate that Machu Picchu’s permanent residents spent their early lives in varied regions east or southeast of the site, say anthropologist Bethany Turner of GeorgiaStateUniversity in Atlanta and her colleagues. Some Machu Picchu inhabitants had emigrated from spots along the central South American coast, while others hailed from valleys high in the Andes.

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