The Mystery of Machu Picchu

Since its discovery in 1911, the study about the origins of the ruin of Machu Picchu has been an interesting topic for archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians alike. Built at around 1450, this city is located high up the Andes Mountains and was never conquered nor destroyed by the Spanish colonizers, thus keeping most of its buildings and structures intact.

During the early years of its discovery, Machu Picchu was first mistaken as Vilcabamba, where the last of the Inca emperors waged years-long battles against the conquistadors. It was only contradicted in 1964, when Espiritu Pampa (located west of Machu Picchu) was confirmed as Vilcabamba.

Because Machu Picchu was never reached by the Spaniards, no accounts about the city had been written in its chronicles of invasion and occupation. Some say it served as a convent for Inca women who were trained to serve the emperor and his coterie, or that it was the birthplace of the Inca forefathers.

However, modern research has suggested otherwise. According to researchers, Machu Picchu was either used as a retreat for Inca ruler Pachacuti or for elites who wanted to escape the noise and congestion of the city. Proof is that the city was small by Inca standards and was likely to be maintained by about 500 to 750 people.

Archaeological evidence also shown that the Inca were not the only people who lived in the city, but also those from coastal regions as well as in some areas of the highlands. Its residents likely made use of grand terraces surrounding the city for farming.

Another theory is that Machu Picchu was actually a sacred site, as it is nearly surrounded by the Urubamba River, which was revered by the Inca people, while the mountains that cradle it are also considered sacred.

Scientists, however, are certain that they may never be able to solve the mystery behind the origins of the Machu Picchu.

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