Machu Picchu before Bingham

Amautacuna de Historia reports on a new exposition in Lima that documents Machu Picchu machu-picchu-c24in the centuries preceding its popularization by Hiram Bingham. The exposition is largely the work of historian Mariana Mould de Pease, the widow of Franklin Pease, who has long worked to repatriate archaeological pieces to Peru.

The current expedition includes, according to the report, maps and other documents that prove Bingham didn’t discover the ruins as much as popularize and capitalize on them. There are German, Italian and English travelers who reference the site in the nineteenth century, a map from 1801, and other documentary traces leading back to the middle of the 16th century. The oldest reference to the site as Machu Picchu apparently dates to a late 18th century land dispute.

The exposition is itself part of the larger struggle between the Peruvian government and Yale University over the fate of the large collections of artifacts Bingham brought back from Peru that are in storage and on display at the Peabody Museum in New Haven. A rather condescending account of this dispute can be found here from a NYT Magazine article in 2007.

Update: More on the controversy here and here.

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Associate Professor of Early Latin America Department of History University of Tennessee-Knoxville

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Posted in Latin American History, Miscellaneous

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Chad Black

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I, your humble contributor, am Chad Black. You can also find me on the web here.
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