Machu Picchu is a famous ancient city in the mountains of Peru.
It’s a big tourist spot, and many people wonder who used to live there.
Researchers from Yale, the University of California, Santa Cruz, Tulane University, and other places teamed up to solve this mystery.
How did they do it? They looked at the DNA of people buried there over 500 years ago!
This special research was part of an agreement where artifacts and human remains stored at Yale would be returned to Peru for people to see and study.
The U.S. National Science Foundation helped support this project.
DNA is like a code in our bodies that tells us who we are related to. The scientists looked at the DNA of 34 people who were buried in Machu Picchu.
They wanted to find out if these people were local or came from different places.
To check, they compared their DNA with the DNA from people in other parts of the ancient Inca Empire and even with modern people from South America.
The results were very interesting! People who lived in Machu Picchu came from many different places in the Inca Empire.
Some even came from as far away as the Amazon rainforest. What was even more surprising was that many of these people were not related to each other.
That means they likely came to Machu Picchu on their own, not as part of a family or a group from their hometown.
Machu Picchu was once a royal estate in the Inca Empire. While we often think of kings and queens living there, many ordinary people worked and lived there too.
They were gardeners, builders, and other kinds of workers. This study shows that these workers came from all over the empire, not just from nearby areas.
Lars Fehren-Schmitz, one of the researchers, said the findings match what historians and archaeologists already thought. But now there is scientific proof!
He said the Inca rulers used to move people around on purpose. This DNA study helps us understand how diverse the community at Machu Picchu was because of these policies.
This research is part of a bigger effort to understand history better. Scientists are mixing old-school ways of studying the past, like digging up artifacts, with cool, new science like DNA testing. By using both methods, we can learn a lot more about ancient places and the people who lived there.
So, the next time you see a picture of Machu Picchu or hear about this ancient city, you’ll know a bit more about its secret past. It was a place where people from all over the Inca Empire came to live and work.
It wasn’t just a home for royalty; it was a bustling, diverse community. And now, thanks to science, we know that for sure!
The study was published in Science Advances.
Follow us on Twitter for more articles about this topic.