Machu Picchu Peru
Machu Picchu Peru (in hispanicized spelling, Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmatʃu ˈpiktʃu]) or Machu Pikchu (Quechua machu old, old person, pikchu peak; mountain or prominence with a broad base which ends in sharp peaks, “old peak”, pronunciation [ˈmɑtʃu ˈpixtʃu]) is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru.
It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas” (a title more accurately applied to Vilcabamba), it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization.
The Incas built the estate around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By 1976, 30% of Machu Picchu had been restored, restoration continues today.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. Its construction appears to date to the period of the two great Incas, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438–71) and Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1472–93). It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572, as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest.
It is possible that most of its inhabitants died from smallpox introduced by travellers before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the area. The conquistadors had notes of a place called Piccho, although there is no record of the Spanish having visited the remote city. The types of sacred rocks defaced by the conquistadors in other locations are untouched at Machu Picchu.
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.
Although the citadel is located only about 80 kilometers (50 mi) from Cusco, the Inca capital, the Spanish never found it and so did not plunder or destroy it, as they did many other sites. Over the centuries, the surrounding jungle grew over the site, and few outside the immediate area knew of its existence.
Hiram Bingham was an American historian and lecturer at Yale University, although not a trained archaeologist. In 1909, returning from the Pan-American Scientific Congress in Santiago, he traveled through Peru and was invited to explore the Inca ruins at Choqquequirau in the Apurimac Valley. He organized the 1911 Yale Peruvian Expedition with one of its objectives to search for the last capital of the Incas. He in fact, guided by locals, rediscovered and correctly identified both Vitcos (then called Rosaspata) and Vilcabamba (then called Espíritu Pampa), which he named “Eromboni Pampa”. However, he did not correctly recognize Vilcabamba as the last capital, instead continuing onward and misidentifying Machu Picchu as the “Lost City of the Incas”, as his book titled it. Further expeditions focused on Machu Picchu, neglecting further investigation of Vitcos and Vilcabamba. Machu Picchu was built at the height of the Inca Empire, and thus features spectacular workmanship and a dramatic site, while the actual last capital of Vilcabamba was built while the short-lived remnant Neo-Inca State was being vanquished by the Spanish, and thus features crude workmanship.
Bingham asked a Peruvian farmer and innkeeper, Melchor Arteaga, if he knew of any ruins in the area. The next day, 24 July 1911, Arteaga led Bingham and Sergeant Carrasco across the river on a primitive log bridge and up the Huayna Picchu mountain. At the top of the mountain they came across a small hut occupied by a couple of Quechua, Richarte and Alvarez, who were farming some of the original Machu Picchu agricultural terraces that they had cleared four years earlier. Alvarez’s the 11-year-old son, Pablito, led Bingham along the ridge to the main ruins.
During Bingham’s archaeological studies, he collected various artifacts which he took back to Yale. One prominent artifact was a set of 15th-century, ceremonial Incan knives made from bismuth bronze; they are the earliest known artifact containing this alloy.
Although local institutions initially welcomed the exploration supplementing knowledge about Peruvian ancestry, they soon accused Bingham of legal and cultural malpractice. Rumors arose that the team was stealing artifacts and smuggling them out of Peru through the bordering country of Bolivia. (In fact, Bingham removed many artifacts, but openly and legally; they were deposited in the Yale University Museum.) Local press perpetuated the accusations, claimed that the excavation harmed the site and deprived local archaeologists of knowledge about their own history. Landowners began to demand rent from the excavators. By the time Bingham and his team left Machu Picchu, locals began forming coalitions to defend their ownership of Machu Picchu and its cultural remains, while Bingham claimed the artifacts ought to be studied by experts in American institutions, an argument that still exists today.
In 1964, Gene Savoy did further exploration of the ruins at Espiritu Pampa and revealed the full extent of the site, identifying it as Vilcabamba Viejo where the Incas fled to after the Spanish drove them from Vitcos.
In 1981, Peru declared an area of 325.92 square kilometres (125.84 sq mi) surrounding Machu Picchu a “Historical Sanctuary”. In addition to the ruins, the sanctuary includes a large portion of the adjoining region, rich with the flora and fauna of the Peruvian Yungas and Central Andean wet puna ecoregions.