When was the discovery Machu Picchu? This is a question that has intrigued travelers and history lovers for decades. In this article, we will take you on a journey through time to discover who discovered Machu Picchu and the key people in this discovery.
The Mystery Revealed
In 1911, Hiram Bingham, an explorer and professor at Yale University, embarks on an expedition. Its objective? Find the mythical lost city of the Incas. The result? A discovery that changed history.
Although Bingham was not the first to reach Machu Picchu, his expedition was the one that made it famous worldwide. He returned to the United States with photographs and artifacts, bringing international attention to this mysterious place. His discovery began a fervent interest in Inca culture and its history.
Hiram Bingham and the Discovery of Machu Picchu
According to studies, the town was built approximately in the 15th century, however there is no consensus as to the reasons for its construction. Some maintain that it was a refuge for the Inca Pachacutec (1408-1471), in a context of expansionism of the Inca Empire. Others suggest that the citadel was built as a base to manage food planting in the region.
On July 24, 1911, Hiram Bingham, an explorer and professor at Yale University, along with his local guide, Agustín Lizárraga, arrived at the ruins of an ancient Inca city hidden in the mountains known today as Machu Picchu = Patallaqta. Although his true objective was to find the capital of Vilcabamba.
Since Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911, Machu Picchu has always been a true archaeological mystery that cannot be solved. Its history and many mysteries continue to attract researchers and tourists from around the world.
Agustín Lizárraga: The Anonymous Hero
While Hiram Bingham is widely recognized as the discoverer of Machu Picchu, there is another name that deserves recognition: Agustín Lizárraga. Lizárraga, a local farmer, lived near Machu Picchu and, according to some sources, was the first to arrive at the llaqta of Machu Picchu on July 14, 1902, as evidenced in a photo taken where writing can be seen on the stones of Machu Picchu Lizarraga July 14, 1902.
Agustín Lizárraga’s story is a reminder that exploration and discovery often involve local people who know the land like no one else. Although his role has not been as widely celebrated, his contribution to the discovery of Machu Picchu is undeniable.
Summary of the discovery of Machu Picchu
Agustín Lizárraga, originally from Cusco, is recognized as the first person to discover the archaeological complex of Machu Picchu. In 1902, he made the discovery of this site, although his efforts to make it known to the world were unsuccessful due to the lack of government support at that time. Nine years later, on July 24, 1911, Hiram Bingham, an American history professor, arrived at Machu Picchu while searching for the lost city of the Incas, Vilcabamba.
He was guided by Melchor Arteaga, a land tenant, and accompanied by a Peruvian civil guard sergeant named Carrasco. Upon arrival, they discovered that two peasant families, the Recharte and the Álvarez, lived in the place, using the southern platforms of the ruins for their crops and drinking water from an Inca canal that still worked and brought water from a spring. Pablo Recharte, one of the local children, guided Bingham through the urban area of the citadel, which was overgrown.
Bingham, clearly astonished, noted in his diary: “Would anyone believe what I have found?” (Will anyone believe what I have found here?).
«I suddenly found myself before the walls of a ruin and houses built with the maximum perfection of Inca art. The walls were difficult to see due to the cover of trees and moss that had hidden them for centuries. However, between the shade of the bamboo and the bushes were the visible walls, built from blocks of white granite cut with exquisite precision. I discovered glittering temples, royal residences, a vast plaza and thousands of homes. He seemed to be immersed in a dream. – Hiram Bingham, in his book “The Discovery of Machu Picchu.”
On the other hand, it was precisely the famous traveler Charles Wiener, in 1875, who learned of the existence of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, and searched for it without any results. In fact, there are rumors that farmers discovered a “lost city” in Cusco early this century, but Bingham was the first Machu Picchu tourist interested in science. Following the discovery, Bingham returned to the site in 1912. In 1914 and 1915, he and members of his expedition made detailed explorations of the site and its surroundings. They created the first maps leading to Machu Picchu in the Inca city.
An Archaeological Treasure Revealed
Bingham was deeply impressed by what he found. With backing from Yale University, the National Geographic Society, and the Peruvian government, he immediately began scientific investigation of the site. Working alongside engineer Ellwood Erdis, osteologist George Eaton, and the direct collaboration of Toribio Recharte and Anacleto Álvarez, as well as a group of anonymous local workers, Bingham led archaeological excavations at Machu Picchu from 1912 to 1915.
During this period, undergrowth was cleared and Incan tombs were excavated in the city. The world fame of Machu Picchu was consolidated in 1913 with the publication of an article in National Geographic magazine. Bingham’s excavations in Machu Picchu allowed him to collect 555 ships, plus 46,332 Inca archaeological pieces, including gold, copper, copper and silver objects, tools and utensils, etc. There are enough discoveries to be sure that the history of Machu Picchu can be traced back to the glory of the Inca Empire. Of the 135 bodies found at the site, 109 were women, 22 were men and only 4 were children.
Important archaeological sites have also been discovered in the surrounding area, such as the fortresses of Sayaqmarka and Vitcos, which have clear common features. For example, there are two areas: one is a city (residential area) and another is a cult area, and the other is dedicated to agriculture.
Hiram Bingham described Machu Picchu (1930) in detail, but mention should be made of Victor Angles (1972) and Herman Bingham Hermann Buse (1961), Luis E. Valcarcel (1964), Luis A. Pardo (1961) José Gabriel Cosio (1961) and Fernando Cabieses (1983)) scientists who gathered discovered architectural evidence that led to obtaining the information that Machu Picchu was built at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. There is also evidence that the site continued to be inhabited after Spain invaded Peru.