Hiram Bingham III. in front of his tent close to Machu Picchu in 1912
Photo: CC0, Wikimedia Commons
Usually, the American explorer Hiram Bingham is said to be the discoverer of the Inca city. In 1911, he was on an expedition with Yale University in search of the “Lost City of the Inca” in the Andes. With the discovery of Machu Picchu, he believed to have reached his goal. However, Vilcabamba is considered to be the real lost city after it was discovered in the 1960s by American aerial photographs and resulting expeditions.
Before Bingham, numerous other “discoverers” had been to Machu Picchu and so this achievement cannot really be assigned to him. After the Inca had left their city during the Spanish conquest, it was not discovered by the Spanish, however, over time several explorers and surveyors came across the ruins. The indigenous people must have had knowledge over the existence and the locations of Machu Picchu, too. Bingham made the city internationally renowned which is why he is often awarded the status of the discoverer.