Machu Picchu Travel Tours

Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu

Hiram Bingham Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca city located in the high Andes Mountains of Peru, is one of the world’s most renowned archaeological sites and one of the new seven world wonders. Its discovery and subsequent exploration by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham in the early 20th century brought this hidden gem to the attention of the world.

The Discovery of Machu Picchu

In 1911, Hiram Bingham, a young professor from Yale University, embarked on an expedition to Peru searching the lost city of Vilcabamba. Little did he know that he was about to stumble upon one of the greatest archaeological finds of the century. On July 24, 1911, Bingham and his team encountered the awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu, which had been abandoned by the Incas centuries earlier.

Hiram Bingham’s Expeditions

Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu was only the beginning of his exploration in the region. Over the course of several expeditions, he meticulously documented and excavated the site, uncovering numerous artifacts and gaining insights into the Inca civilization. His work shed light on the advanced engineering and architectural techniques employed by the Incas.

Unearthing the Secrets of Machu Picchu

Bingham’s expeditions revealed the intricate network of terraces, temples, and residential structures that make up Machu Picchu. The discovery of the Intihuatana stone, a sacred ritual stone used for astronomical observations, provided further evidence of the site’s spiritual significance to the Incas. Bingham’s meticulous documentation and preservation efforts ensured that the world would have a glimpse into the past.

Controversies and Criticisms

Despite his contributions to the field of archaeology, Bingham’s role in the discovery of Machu Picchu has been met with some controversy. Critics argue that he did not give enough credit to the local people who guided him to the site. Furthermore, he took many of the artifacts he uncovered back to the United States without proper consent many of them haven’t been returned to Peru yet. These criticisms have sparked debates and discussions about the ethics of his archaeological exploration.

The Legacy of Hiram Bingham

Regardless of the controversies surrounding Bingham, there is no denying the impact he had on Machu Picchu. His expeditions brought international attention to the site, leading to its preservation and eventual designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, millions of tourists flock to Machu Picchu each year, marveling at the wonders that Bingham first unveiled to the world.


Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu opened a window into the ancient Inca civilization, allowing us to glimpse their remarkable achievements. While his legacy may be clouded by controversies, there is no denying the importance of his work in unearthing and preserving one of the world’s most remarkable archaeological sites.

Frequent Questions

  • 1. How did Hiram Bingham find Machu Picchu?

    Bingham was led to Machu Picchu by a local farmer named Melchor Arteaga, who had known about the site for years.
  • 2. What did Hiram Bingham uncover during his expeditions?

    During his expeditions, Bingham uncovered a variety of artifacts, including jewlery, pottery, textiles, and human remains. He also documented the layout and architecture of Machu Picchu.
  • 3. Why is there controversy surrounding Hiram Bingham’s role in the discovery?

    Some people argue that Bingham did not properly credit the local people who guided him to the site and that he took artifacts without proper consent which haven’t been returned to Peru.
  • 4. What impact did Hiram Bingham have on the preservation and study of Machu Picchu?

    Bingham’s expeditions brought international focus to Machu Picchu, leading to its investigation and eventual designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. His documentation and preservation efforts also provided valuable insights into the Inca civilization.
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