Machu Picchu is generally accepted to have been an Incan retreat, built in the middle of the 15th century on a barely accessible mountaintop of Peru about fifty miles northwest of Cuzco. It was apparently abandoned a century later and only brought to the attention of the outside world in 1911, when it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956).
In 2021 the use of a more advanced dating method (accelerator mass spectrometry) has pushed back the earliest date for the site by a couple of decades to 1420 AD(j).
Mark Adams, the American writer, wrote an account of his retracing of Bingham’s journey to Machu Picchu. Along with the narrative of his pilgrimage, Adams has also interwoven a valuable history of the region.
In 2013, a Polish-Peruvian team, while exploring a previously unexcavated building on the site, claimed to have discovered that the structure was astronomically aligned(a). The following year saw a newly discovered section of the Inca Road, which leads to Machu Picchu, announced by the Andina News Agency(c).
In July 2016, it was reported that what are considered pre-Inca petroglyphs were discovered in the Machu Picchu region(d)(e). Research is proceeding.
The siting of the sanctuary has been something of a mystery, Recent research suggests that the existence of geological faults that lie beneath it may offer some of the answers. Rualdo Menegat, a Brazilian geologist, presented a paper to the Geological Society of America’s Annual meeting in Phoenix, in which he claims that the Incas deliberately chose to build Machu Picchu and some of their cities where tectonic faults meet!(h)
It was revealed in 2019 that work had commenced on the building of a new interational airport to service Machu Picchu, a development that has been vigorously opposed as a threat to the already fragile site. It is worth noting that in 2017, 1.5 million visitors, nearly twice the limit recommended by UNESCO, came to Machu Picchu(g).
Also in 2019, it was announced that an even older Inca site was discovered 1,500 metres higher than Machu Picchu using LiDar(i).
Some pathetic attempts have been made to link Machu Picchu with Atlantis. One of them claims that “This was the (summer?) residence of the continental governor, who at the time of the destruction of Atlantis was a woman.”(b) Others, such as Rand Flem-Ath along with the late Colin Wilson, as well as Jim Alison, have included the Andean site in proposed global grids linking prehistoric sites.
A less-known Inca site is that of Choquequirao(f), sometimes referred to as the ‘sister’ of Machu Picchu. Only a third of the site has been excavated so far.