Machu picchu before bringham

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Machu Picchu before Bingham

Here is Berns’ own sketch of the “Flight of Steps from Putucussi to the ruined towns of the Metalworkers”.


“In 1551, the Viceroy Mendoza ordered Betanzos to record the history of the Incas.....but the initial eighteen chapters were lost for more than 400 years.”

Archaeologist Paolo Greer looks at the history of Machu Picchu before it was officially ‘discovered’ by Hiram Bingham in 1911
In 1471, the year the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro was born, Pachacuti Yupanqui died. Pachacuti was the ninth Inca and Atahualpa’s Great Grandfather. When he was young, Pachacuti was known simply as Cusi Yupanqui. Then, the Inca kingdom was small and their enemies, the Chancas, attacked their home, Cusco. Cusi’s
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Bernabe Cobo, like Garcilaso, among the most cited of Inca authorities, relied on the scant records available in his day, publishing his history in 1653, nearly one hundred years after Betanzos’ direct translations from Atahualpa’s cousin-wife and their surviving relatives. Perhaps, it was then that Cuxirimay, a.k.a. Doña Angelina Yupanqui, finally “spoke her good fortune” by preserving the history of her vanquished ancestors. Without the telling of her story by Juan de Betanzos, and his Narration’s recent rediscovery, much of the Inca’s own account might have been lost forever.

The site of La Maquina is now Aguas Calientes, the community just below Machu Picchu. In 1867, Berns purchased twenty-five kilometers of the northern bank of the Urubamba/Vilcanota River, next to the famous citadel. His estate, the “Cercado de San Antonio” or “Torontoy”, extended above and far downriver from the present ruins of Torontoy, and up to the mountain crests, directly opposite of Machu Picchu. Even today, this region within plain sight of the best known ancient city in the Americas is virtually unknown.

Pre-Bingham Research
I first walked the popular Inca trail in 1974, several years before I encountered history of the area that pre-dated Hiram Bingham. Like many a good adventure, this one started with the serendipitous discovery of an old map. I came upon the sketch during one of my numerous trips to the U.S. Library of Congress. It had no title or date,

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