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Running Inca Real Estate

Inca nobility at Machu Picchu relied on servants from the colonies outside the empire to manage the royal estate, according to a new study of human skeletons found buried at the site.

Royal estate servants, known as yanacona, may have been brought to the site from as far away as the Pacific Coast, the northern highlands, and the area around Lake Titicaca near Peru's border with Bolivia, the study says. For some people this work was temporary, but for some yanacona it meant leaving home and family behind forever, notes lead study author Bethany Turner, an anthropologist at Georgia State University.

“It was not necessarily forced, but you wouldn't turn it down lightly,” she says. According to Turner, while nobility were not permanent residents at the estate, visitors would probably have seen a city buzzing with the activity of yanacona.

Text Source: Orozco, José. “Inca Elite Imported Diverse "Staff" to Run Machu Picchu.” National Geographic News October 2008.
Photograph by:
  • William Albert Allard/National Geographic Creative