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News > Science and Tech

Science Confirms Two Myths About Inca Origins

  • Aymara people perform ritual at lake Titicaca.

    Aymara people perform ritual at lake Titicaca. | Photo: EFE

Published 23 May 2018

A study showed Inca civilization originated in both Lake Titicaca and the Pacaritambo mountain in Cusco.

Researchers from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia, who have been tracing the origins of the Inca civilization, have confirmed two of the Inca’s foundational myths through genetical studies on contemporary descendants of Inca emperors.


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Two legends surrounding the origins of the Tahuantinsuyo, the territory dominated by the Inca empire that spanned from modern-day Ecuador to Chile, tell two different stories that place the origins of the Inca civilization in Puno and Cusco, in what is today's Peru.

The first is that of the lovers Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, who emerge out of Lake Titicaca, in Puno, while the other tells the story of the Ayar brothers who emerge out of the Pacaritambo mountain in Cusco.

“After three years of tracking the genetic footprints of Inca descendents, we have confirmed the two legends that narrate the origin of the Inca civilization (1200-1533) are related to each other,” Peruvian scientists Ricardo Fujita and Jose Sandoval, scientists of the University of San Martin de Porres and who participated in the research project told the AFP.

Researchers gathered a bank of DNA samples from over 3,000 Indigenous peoples of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador and compared the genetic data with that of Inca descendents who still live in Cusco and in towns near Lake Titicaca, in Puno.

At the end we found 200 people who live in southern Cusco and the north of Bolivia and share genetic similarities with Inca nobility.  

The study on the imperial Inca family sought to establish whether there was a single patrilineal relationship, a single Inca patriarch, or more than one.

“We have arrived at the conclusion that Tahuantinsuyo nobility descends from two lineages, one from Lake Titicaca in the Puno area and the other from the Pacaritambo mountain in Cusco. That tells us the legends about the foundation are true and that they could’ve been a single scenario,” Sandoval explained.

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