Is There Enough Evidence to Support the Hypothesis that Marcahuasi Was Human-Created?
Taking into account the variety of structures found on the plateau, the relationships between the markers and the representation of an important constellation, as well as the lines of sight reflecting the exact division of the 360 degree circle, we may have at present sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that an ancient culture, of which we know nothing, shaped Marcahuasi.
The 2017 Marcahuasi Photogrammetry Study
At the end of August 2017 we again visited the plateau, this time accompanied by professional archaeologists Drs. Carballo (Boston University) and Castillo (Catholic University Peru), well known for his work at Teotihuacan in Mexico. Professor Castillo conducted a photogrammetry study generating data which provided views of the surface from different heights, videos, and orthophotos. This is the first time such data have been developed. Working for three days at an altitude of four thousand meters with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone equipped with a 14 MP camera he obtained complete aerial coverage of the northern and partial coverage of the central areas of the plateau. The data was processed with AgiSoft PhotoScan software. He has graciously made this material available to us and the videos and the orthophotos are presented in this website. The latter are seamless composites of hundreds of photographs taken by the camera on the drone at short intervals.
Results of the 2017 Marcahuasi Photogrammetry Study
Professor Carballo examined many of the monuments and “markers” presented on our research data page.
He considered as possible that human intervention may have been involved in the creation of some of the structures, but questioned the assignment of certain markers to correspond to stars in the constellation Pleiades based purely on the data the previous ECYART expeditions had developed and proposed additional work.
Based on our past research, we had found many structures to have lines of sight that are multiples of forty-five and of ninety degrees and that many of the monuments and markers are aligned.
Professor Carballo is currently (2018) trying to determine if the alignments we discovered point to specific points on the horizon, which may correspond to significant solar positions such as solstices and equinoxes.
Please reach out if you’re interested in collaborating in this research.
Studies on Marcahuasi At Boston University 2018-2020
The interdisciplinary fields of archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy can reveal interactions between past peoples and their skies to evaluate the implications of a past culture’s view of the celestial and its translation to calendars and religious systems. We know from many previous studies that humans modified stone monuments to align with special celestial phenomena, as noted by scholars such as Dr. Gary Urton and Dr. Anthony Aveni. We are using geospatial software to determine whether the stone formations of Marcahuasi were purposefully modified by humans based on the presence of alignments between them and the sun or the Milky Way during special days, such as the Summer and Winter Solstices and Spring and Autumn Equinoxes. So far, we have found a few possible alignments, which may be due to chance occurrence or which could support the idea of human elaboration of the formations.
In addition to the geospatial software, such as ArcGIS, we are also using a planetarium software in order to test these astronomical relationships. This software allows us to enter a certain date and time for the location of each marker and visually determine if there are any solar or other astronomical alignment. Though the background is generic, it is real time data that can be used to evaluate possible relationships.
The presence or absence of these relationships will help determine if these monuments were created or modified by a pre-Inca culture, reflective of Inca imperial influence, or wholly natural and not aligned with one another or any relevant astronomical phenomena. A correlation between the orientation of these stone monuments with celestial phenomena such as solar zenith passage, solstices, equinoxes, or even the negative spaces or “dark cloud constellations” in the Milky Way (which were a form of Andean zodiac) would suggest the formations were created or purposefully modified by native Andeans. This hypothesis is based on previous sites that have human modified stone monuments that align with special celestial phenomena (Aveni 1981, 1997). The preliminary results of this research will be presented in 2020 at two international conferences: the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for American Archaeology.