Brian Foerster in this video tells a theory that Incas built their city on top of an older one, judging by the difference in the block material (granite), size, and the precision of their composition. Couldn't we verify this using scientific methods of age detection?

  • Note that we have very precise methods to date organic materials thanks to C14/ring trees/philogenetics, but not so for inorganic materials. The usual method for finding the age of a city is go to the burial mounds/waste pits and date the organic material there. It is because inorganic materials do not suffer many alterations, and those that we know of (erosion, etc.) are pretty variable.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 9, 2015 at 17:42
  • When a man/animal lives, his C14/C12 proportion remains stable, when he dies C14 begins desintegrating and we can use the level of C14 left in relation to the original to know the time of his dead and birth (actually only his dead, but the estimates usually give enough time to live several lives). A block of granite also has radiactive elements decaying, but those have been decaying since the rock did solidify, regardless if it was buried in the ground of if it was part of a building.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 9, 2015 at 17:45

2 Answers 2


Although opinions differ, the overwhelming academic view as things stand is that construction at Machu Picchu began around 1450. I don't think anyone is completely ruling out an earlier temple being built on the site before that, but the 'evidence' in the video is pretty scanty: it's well-established that precision stone-working had been in place in the Andes for hundreds of years before the Incas, for example at Tiwanaku in Bolivia (some pictures) or at sites like Sillustani near Lake Titicaca.

As for the different stone being used, the granite used as shown in the video was also used at demonstrably Inca sites such as Ollantaytambo, so again it's hard to see this as 'proof' of MP being built by a different civilization. Sorry, but there we are...

  • Strictly speaking, the presence of similar technology at other cities (including Andes settlements) doesn't rule out the theory that these temples were build before the cities. My question is about any real scientific measurements of the granite stones the temples are built from.
    – kvark
    Sep 21, 2014 at 0:24

Not to mention many natives that knew of the area claimed it wasn't the Incas that built Machu Picchu, but hey what do savages know? The best way to look at what happened in the past, is to look at what is happening today, still doesn't paint the full picture, though it helps. How many low tech groups of people are making beautiful stone structures on mountain tops in this day? Well none we know of. So that implies someone of fairly evolved technology had gone up there and settled the plateau. Those people could have very well died off, then other people moved in. If I discovered Machu Picchu, I'd move in too, just look at that view.

  • 1
    This answer would benefit from sources.
    – MCW
    Mar 26, 2017 at 21:00
  • "The best way to look at what happened in the past, is to look at what is happening today" but we do the opposite here. We read the past sources to better understand what is happening now.
    – kubanczyk
    Mar 26, 2017 at 21:08

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