A selection of the objects recovered by the 1912 Expedition from the cave burials of the retainers that show the identity and daily lives of these women, men, and children.
Ceramic of the Servers or "Yanacona" of Machu Picchu: Provincial Inca Style
Although some of the burials in the Machu Picchu caves were from Cusco, the majority of these show people from diverse parts of the Inca empire, Tahuantinsuyo. This pattern reflects the ethnic diversity of the residents in Machu Picchu.
Inca Metal Objects from Machu Picchu
The excavations of 1912 found a wide variety of metal tools and jewelry. Though some of them were produced in Machu Picchu for specialists that worked for the royal family of Pachacuti, others were brought to the Machu Picchu from other regions of the Inca empire, Tahuantinsuyo.
We can see here a metal worker beginning the process of transforming an irregular silver ingot into the thin sheet metal used in the production of tweezers, rings, and other items. He s shown hammering the silver with a polished hammer-stone. The artisan is dressed in a simple black tunic, sandals of llama leather, and a wool sling that doubles as a hair band.
Both intentional and unintentional cranial deformation are found among the Machu Picchu skeletons. The intentional forms, commonly called “Aymara”-style (for the ancestors of the Aymara people of what is now Bolivia), shown below in the photo of the skull cast and reconstruction, resulted in a distinctively-shaped head recognizable at a glance. In contrast, the unintentional flattening of the back of the skull is less noticeable to a casual observer, but nevertheless clearly present in a number of skulls at Machu Picchu, probably coastal natives brought to Machu Picchu to serve the royal estate.
Many of the skulls recovered during the 1912 excavations of Machu Picchu show typical cranial shapes from zones outside of Cusco. The two most frequently found shapes are shown here, in conjunction with a facial reconstruction using the base of one of the displayed skulls.
The quipu was a knotted-string device used for record keeping in the Inca empire; its name signifies “knot” in Quechua. Made of cotton or camelid fibers, the principal structural components of a quipu were a main, or primary cord to which were attached a variable number of so-called pendant strings. Subsidiary strings were often attached to the pendant strings. Information was recorded on quipus by a variety of techniques, including the color (both natural and dyed hues), the differences in the directionality of spinning and plying of strings, by attaching strings to the main cord, and by tying knots into the strings.
On most quipus, knots were tied individually or in clusters on different levels to signify numerical values in the Inca decimal place system of numeration. The information that was recorded on these devices included statistical data from censuses and tribute records, as well as information from which histories genealogies and other such narrative accounts were constructed and read by Inca administrators and specialized record keepers.