The Manly Peak
July 24, 1911: The Lost City of the Incas, known as Machu Picchu, is rediscovered by Hiram Bingham. Bingham was born in Hawaii, to a missionary family. He was educated at Yale and Harvard and served as Preceptor at Princeton.
In 1906, Bingham sailed to South America to follow the route Bolivar had taken in 1819. He returned to Peru in 1911 as Director of the Peruvian Expedition and studied writings from the 17th century which led to his search for the last two Incan capitals – Vilcabamba and Vitcos.
On July 23, he camped by a river and a local farmer told him, through his interpreter, of some ruins at the top of the mountain. The next day, Bingham, the farmer, and his interpreter climbed the mountain and found a group of people farming the lower terraces. The stonework of the terraces was inspirational. Pablito, an 11-year-old from the farming community led Bingham to the site of the remains of the abandoned place we know as Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu consists of approximately 200 buildings: residences, temples, storage structures, and public buildings. In the late Incan period about 1,200 people lived in the buildings made of granite block cut with bronze or stone tools. The blocks fit together perfectly without mortar even though none of the blocks are the same size. Some have as many as 30 corners. The architectures blends with the landscape perfectly. The astrologically oriented intihuatana, a column of stone, was used by the priests to tie the sun to the earth to keep it from disappearing as the winter solstice approached. Although the site was never found by the Spanish conquistadores, it is assumed that smallpox preceded the Europeans and wiped out the population.
“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” – Helen Keller
“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.” – Frank Herbert
“By mutual confidence and mutual aid – great deeds are done, and great discoveries made.” – Homer
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
Also on this day, in 1866 Tennessee was readmitted to the Union.