A Tale Of Two Lost Cities: Machu Picchu and Choquequirao
By Brien Foerster
Moray, Sacred Valley - Photo by Luna M.Flores
This is one of researcher and writer Brien Foerster's regular column here at Grahamhancock.com. Brienís study and insight into the Incaís ancient origins shed a new light on that famous South American culture. The implications are both startling and far reaching suggesting a connection to a pan Pacific civilization reaching back to mankindís most distant past. Join Brien on the GrahamHancock.com Mysteries Message Board where he will be conducting a continuing discussion surrounding his research and regular contributions to these pages. Please check in for the next installment from Brien.
More articles by Brien
A Brief History Of The Incas; From Rise, Through Reign, To Ruin by Brien Foerster, 20 August 2010
The Disappearance Of The Children Of Viracocha by Brien Foerster, 6 December 2010
The Disappearance Of The Children Of Viracocha, Part 2: Inca Epilogue, Chachapoyas, Rapanui, Aotearoa And Hawaii by Brien Foerster, 9 December 2010
The Disappearance Of The Children Of Viracocha, Part 3: Cuzco: The City Which The Inca Found, Not Founded by Brien Foerster, 7 February 2011
Ollantaytambo: House of the Dawn; an Underestimated Inca Monument by Brien Foerster, 18 April 2011
Elongated Skulls Of Paracas: A People And Their World by Brien Foerster, 11 August 2011
Picchu, the lost city of the Inca, or at least that is how this
citadel high in the Amazon borderlands is advertised to the world at
large. Indeed, the Spanish conquistadors failed to find this
masterpiece of ancient complex construction during their campaign of
cultural exploitation and degradation beginning with their arrival on
the shore of what was to become called Peru in 1532.
famous site caught the imagination of the world when National
Geographic magazine, in the United States, featured Macchu Picchu in
their April 1913 issue; in fact, it was the sole topic covered, and
included a full fold out center spread. Such exposure raised the
profile of an otherwise unknown American archaeologist, Hiram Bingham
III, to that of a media star; with his tan wide brimmed hat, Khaki
clothes and leather shoulder strapped bag, he became the model for
the fictional movie icon Indiana Jones.
Picchu had eluded the Spanish, and most explorers up until Bingham’s
time because of its location. At the northern end of the Sacred
Valley of Peru near Cusco, elevated from the valley by more than 1000
feet, and cloaked in dense tropical vegetation, Machu Picchu was
several miles away from any well known Inca site. There were also
only 2 narrow roads, or more properly trails that connected the
citadel with the outside world, one being the famous well trodden
tourist trail in fact called just that, the Inca Trail that
approached from the south, and a lesser entrance on the west side.
adventurers had in fact, it is thought have found Machu Picchu prior
to Bingham, Simone
Waisbard, a long-time researcher from Cusco, claims that Enrique
Palma, Gabino Sánchez, and Agustín Lizárraga
left their names engraved on one of the rocks at Machu Picchu on 14
July 1901. Also in 1904, an engineer named Franklin supposedly
spotted the ruins from a distant mountain. He told Thomas Payne, an
English Christian missionary living in the region, about the site,
Payne's family members claim. They also report that in 1906, Payne
and fellow missionary Stuart E. McNairn (1867–1956) climbed up
to the ruins.
The site may have been
discovered and plundered in 1867 by a German businessman, Augusto
Berns. There is some evidence that a German engineer, J. M. von
Hassel, arrived earlier. Maps found by historians show references to
Machu Picchu as early as 1874.
Bingham was under contract from the National Geographic Society, and
his aim in fact was to attempt to find the lost city of Old
Vilcabamba, the last Inca hold out from Spanish aggression, in which
one of the last Inca rulers, Manco, was able to hide from the
conquistadors for 30 years. In 1911 Bingham was a lecturer in history
at his alma mater, Yale, which wound up with all of the artefacts
that he was eventually able to unearth at Machu Picchu; a collection
that was finally repatriated to Peru in 2010…well, perhaps 5
percent of what Yale held, and still has.
Bingham was in the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo, which is now the
main train stop to get to Aguas Calientes, the village below Machu
Picchu, and built in large part to service the tourist trade, an 11
year old Native boy, Pablito Alvarez, guided him up the side of a
mountain called Machu Picchu, Quechua for Old Bird. Pablito’s
father had told Bingham, who was supposedly pestering the local
people about the whereabouts of “old stone buildings”
told him that what he sought was up on Machu Picchu.
guided by Pablito up an old trail choked in places with lush tropical
vegetation cast his eyes upon huge white granite walls and buildings
within and rising above the thick jungle. Yet, the two were not
alone… In fact,
Bingham stumbled across two native farmers, named Richarte and
Alvarez, who had cleared some of the Inca terraces and had been
growing potatoes, corn, sugarcane and other crops there for 3 or 4
years, and were living there, possibly full time, in or very near the
central ceremonial square.
the following years hundreds of local Natives were hired by Bingham
to clear away the dense foliage that had cloaked the site since it
had been abandoned by its builders, the Inca, nearly 400 years
before. And in this cleaning process, numerous poisonous snakes, the
deadly Fer de Lance were also killed, sometimes after they had taken
the lives of some of the workers.