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The historical site was once a former royal estate of the large Inca Empire that stretched throughout the Andean mountains.
Although it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, archaeologists continue to discover new details about the site.
Recently, scientists analyzed the DNA of 34 individuals who were buried in the citadel more than 500 years ago. They then compared them with the genetic information of other people from the Inca Empire and modern genomes from South America.
The findings showed that only a few were from the heartland of the empire, while the rest came from the Pacific coasts, modern-day Ecuador and Chile. And more than a third arrived from as far away as Amazonia, which includes modern-day Brazil and Colombia.
Researchers noted that these people were brought to the empire as individuals and not as part of a group. They added that these non-Incan people were not slaves but served the royal families “for life in different capacities, including that of retainers at country palaces such as Machu Picchu.”
“The sheer genetic diversity at Machu Picchu was remarkable and unprecedented,” said co-author Lucy Salazar, “and it suggests that the cultural diversity at Machu Picchu was more similar to a cosmopolitan center than a modern agricultural village.”