The discovery of Machu Picchu

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The three men climbed up almost crawling along a steep and slippery slope in Peru. It was the morning of July 24th of 1911 and Hiram Bingham II had left the camp site on the Urubamba River with two of his Peruvian companions to investigate some ruins that, supposedly, lay on a very high peak known as Machu Picchu (old peak).

At about 1804 feet over the valley they ran into a couple of farmers that had moved to the mountain to avoid tax collectors. Those hikers assured the very skeptical Bingham that the ruins he had heard of were nearby and even sent him a kid to show him the way.

When Bingham finally reached the place, he looked in disbelief at the scene that revealed itself before his eyes. A labyrinth of walls and terraces peaked through the abundant weeds, as if an Inca ghost had hidden from the world from almost 400 years.

Even though Bingham himself acknowledged that he was not the first one to discover Machu Picchu, he was the first scientist to study the site and with the financial support of Yale University and the National Geographic Society, Bingham’s teams were able to cut off the weeds from the peak, drew plans and took pictures of the ruins, and send thousands of artifacts to the Natural History Peabody Museum in Yale University.

When the news of the discovery got out there were many that tried to unravel the nature of the place but nobody was able to offer a precise answer, until during the eighties a document was found that dated back to 1568, where a petition was to the Spanish court was filed from the Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui descendants in which they declared that their forefather had been the owner of a place called Picchu, very close to the actual archaeological site.

Further studies of the architecture and the rescued artifacts suggest that Pachacutec lived in this mountainous enclosure where he ate in silverware, washed on a private bath made of rock and relaxed on a beautiful orchid garden.

This and much more have made of Machu Picchu one of the archaeological marvels of the modern world.

Source: National Geographic

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