Podcast: Credit where credit is due in Hiram Bingham’s scientific discovery of Machu Picchu

Interview with Daniel Buck

Some little-known facts about Hiram Bingham and his 1911 scientific discovery of Machu Picchu:

The “Bingham look” (khaki jodhpurs, tall leather boots, hunting  jacket, grey cardigan and wide-brimmed fedora hat) was picked from a prestigious clothing catalog.  Bingham ordered his outfit and his supplies from Abercrombie & Fitch Co. popular product line, titled “Complete outfits for Explorers, Campers, Prospectors and Fisherman.”

Explorer Hiram Bingham during a 1912 expedition to Machu Picchu. Photo: Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

“He bought all of his clothing at Abercrombie & Fitch.” — Yale archaeologist Richard Burger

When Bingham first arrived at Machu Picchu in 1911, he found carved onto the stone walls of the citadel a date — July 14, 1901 — along with the names of Gavino Chávez, Enrique Palma, and Agustín Lizárraga, proving he was not the first outsider to explore ruins.

When Bingham set out from the city of Cusco in search of the lost Inca stronghold of Vilcabamba, it was another American who set him on the path that eventually led to Machu Picchu.

In this podcast interview, Washington-based independent scholar and author Dan Buck explains who that other American was, and why — in his estimation — Bingham still deserves every bit of credit for the scientific discovery of one of the world’s most famous, iconic archaeological complexes.

Books cited (and recommended)
in interview with Dan Buck:

  • Christopher Heaney, CRADLE OF GOLD (2010), an excellent history of Machu Picchu and Hiram Bingham’s discovery.
  • Estuardo Nuñez, VIAJES Y VIAJEROS EXTRANJEROS POR EL PERU (1989), 400 years of foreign travel and exploration in Peru.
  • Brian Bauer, ANCIENT CUZCO: HEARTLAND OF THE INCA (2004), an archaeological survey of the Cuzco Valley.
  • Carlos B. Cisneros, ATLAS DEL PERU (1904).

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Authored by: Rick Vecchio

Rick Vecchio, Fertur’s director of development and marketing, was educated at the New School for Social Research and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for Pacifica Radio WBAI and as a daily reporter for newspapers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. Then in 1996, he decided it was time to realize a life-long dream of traveling to Peru. He never went back. While serving as Peru country manager for the South American Explorers from 1997-1999, he fell in love with Fertur's founder, Siduith Ferrer, and they married. Over the next six years, he worked as a correspondent for The Associated Press. Meanwhile, Siduith built the business, which he joined in January 2007. Now he designs custom educational and adventure tour packages for corporate and institutional clients, oversees Fertur’s Internet platform and occasionally leads special trips, always with an eye open for a good story to write about.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Daniel Buck at 9:06 am

    A recap, books I mentioned during the interview:

    Christopher Heaney, CRADLE OF GOLD (2010), an excellent history of Machu Picchu and Hiram Bingham’s discovery.

    Estuardo Nuñez, VIAJES Y VIAJEROS EXTRANJEROS POR EL PERU (1989), 400 years of foreign travel and exploration in Peru.

    Brian Bauer, ANCIENT CUZCO: HEARTLAND OF THE INCA (2004), an archaeological survey of the Cuzco Valley.

    Carlos B. Cisneros, ATLAS DEL PERU (1904).

  2. Dan - visa americana at 12:22 pm

    Well definitely an honor to have these relics, plus Machu Picchu is a magical place that transports us and makes us feel in another world behind former but not really worth it deeper into this topic.

    Bueno definitivamente un honor tener estas reliquias, ademas el machu pichu es un lugar magico que nos transporta y nos hace sentir en otro mundo antiguo pero no atrasado, realmente vale pena profundizar en este tema.

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