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News: Archaeoastronomy
Machu Pichu, Peru. Image: Pedro Szekely.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

New Archaeoastronomical Alighments Found At Machu Pichu

Modelling El Mirador by using 3D lasers

A joint Peruvian-Polish team have examined a previously unexcavated building in the well-preserved Inca retreat of Machu Picchu and found that the structure is astronomically aligned according to Prof. Mariusz Ziółkowski, Head of Pre-Columbian Research Centre at the University of Warsaw.

The team used 3D laser scanners to fully model and survey the building, named “El Mirador” (the vantage point), so as to get precise locations and alignments.

“Despite the difficult terrain we managed to perform 3D laser scans, which we then used to prepare a precise model of this amazing complex.” said Prof. Ziółkowski. Results of preliminary analysis indicate that it is a device used probably by a small group of Inca priests astronomers for precise observations of the position of celestial bodies on the horizon, against the distinctive Yanantin mountain peaks.

The Inca were well-known as astronomers who took careful note of the movements of the heavens in order to plan their agricultural and religious calendars.

Archaeoastronomical significance

The Polish researchers who have been working at Machu Picchu since 2008, have been focusing on the site’s archaeoastronomical significance. They presented their findings at the “International Conference of the Societe Europeenne pour l’ Astronomie dans la Culture” in Athens in September 2013.

El Mirador, was constructed of well made blocks of stone and was identified in an inaccessible part of the National Park of Machu Picchu by the park director, anthropologist Fernando Astete Victoria, during the prospective – inventory work conducted on the slopes of Mount Huayna Picchu. He then invited the Polish team to work with the Peruvian team to further investigate the site with the latest technology and so reveal a new alignment pattern unlike the Inca ceremonial complexes with south or west-oriented solstice.

Previous research by the Polish team had demonstrated Intimachay at Machu Picchu was an astronomical observatory far more complex and precise than it has been previously realised.

NOTES