Archaeology

Machu Picchu: Incas watched the heavens at mountaintop observatories

By Rachel Chase

A Polish-Peruvian team has announced some new discoveries at Peru’s most famous archaeological site.

Machu Picchu: Incas watched the heavens at mountaintop observatories

(Photo: Flickr/El Comercio)

Researchers in Peru have announced that they have cause to believe the Incas used observatories on Machu Picchu to track the movement heavenly bodies.

El Comercio reports that a team of Polish and Peruvian investigators looked specifically at the Intimachay area of Machu Picchu, which contains a structure with a front and side window. The researchers report that Inca astronomers could have watched and tracked a number of astronomical phenomena from the area, including summer and winter solstices and the movement of the moon.

According to the investigators, Intimachay was likely a sacred space.

Another observatory was confirmed in the Inkaraqay area, which is located on Huayna Picchu.

The most interesting thing about the research, perhaps, is the technology used to carry it out. El Comercio reports that the international team used 3D scanning software to analyze the structures and compare their shape and placement with the positions of the stars as would have been seen by the Incas.

El Comercio writes that this discovery is the first time that the existence of Inca astronomy has been confirmed, even though it was described as early as 1572 by chronicler Sarmiento de Gamboa.

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