THE DISCOVERY OF MACHU PICCHU
ORGANIZING THE EXPEDITION - GIESECKE CONTACTED BINGHAM WITH THE LAND OWNER
In January 1911, Mr. Braulio Polo and La Borda, the owner of the Echarati hacienda , in the area of Mandor, Convencion province, department of Cusco, invited the Rector of the "Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco", Dr. Alberto A. Giesecke, to his hacienda. On that visit, he informed him that the whole area was dotted with archaeological sites and Inca ruins, and that his claims would be supported by the inhabitants of Mandor or San Miguel.
Giesecke, who during his fourteen years as Rector of the university had been known as an avid sponsor of archaeological activity, and knowing of Bingham's interest, wrote to him about this. In Cusco, Giesecke made a contact for him with Braulio Polo y Borda. When they met, Borda mentioned to Bingham that on the hill facing his property there were some ancient structures covered with vegetation, where his cattle often would get lost. He also introduced him to Eduardo Lizarraga, a tenant farmer who had been living on the land since the 1870s.
With the certainty of these references, confirmations from Giesecke and Braulio Polo, and the stories told by Lizárraga, who had already engraved his name on the stones of Machu Picchu, at the beginning of July in 1911, Bingham arrived in the valley of Vilcabamba, with a first scientific committee of Yale University, and made the discovery of the Imperial Citadel of Machu Picchu.
On July 23 1911, Bingham appeared at Mandor, together with Sargento
Carrasco who had escorted him from Cusco by command of the Prefect,
Juan Jose Nuñez. They found the peasant Melchor Arteaga, living
in his hut. He told Bingham about the existence of two Inca sites,
Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu. In this way, Bingham
was able to get clear information, hired Arteaga as his local guide,
and on the following day reached Machu Picchu,
the Inca city.
On that day, July 24, 1911, after examining the steep slope of the
mountain on which Machu Picchu lies, he decides to take what is
now the official path of access to the Citadel. Melchor Arteaga
led him to Machu Picchu, after a tough climb up
the eastern flank of the mountain. After midday they came across
another hut, where they found Anacleto Alvarez and Toribio Recharte.
They were two humble peasants who lived in the area with their families,
farming the Pre-Hispanic terraces.
On that same July 24th, they climbed to the top of the Machu
Picchu mountain, where the fabulous Inca llacta of Picchu
The thick covering of vegetation on the Citadel made it impossible
to appreciate the true magnitude of their find immediately, so they
used their machetes to clean some sections of wall. One can imagine
the excitement of the explorers as the Citadel of Machu
Picchu began to reveal itself to them gradually.
This made Bingham think of the mythical capital of Manco II, an idea that he mentions in his accounts for some time thereafter, even after starting to talk about Pacareqtambo, "the Inn of Dawn", from which the Ayar brothers were supposed to have started their march towards Cusco, an idea which has been discredited today.
Bingham christened it with the same name as the hill it was on, and concluded that this was indeed the legendary Vitcos.