What secrets of the lost city of the Incas Machu Picchu haunt scientists

Machu Picchu is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. But what would you say if you knew that it was called something completely different?

Recent archaeological research in this area, together with the research of historians, has confirmed that this place has been called incorrectly for more than a century. How was it possible to find out what else the lost ancient city of the Incas hides?

Fieldnotes of the discoverers

Researchers, including American archaeologist Brian S. Bauer and Peruvian historian Danato Amado Gonzalez, studied a whole pile of documents. They carefully analyzed all the maps and records of the 17th century. Experts analyzed the field notes of researcher Hiram Bingham. This American archaeologist and historian was the discoverer of the lost city of the Incas, which Machu Picchu is considered to be. This name is never mentioned anywhere.

Bingham discovered the mysterious abandoned city of Machu Picchu in 1911. The archaeologist knew that somewhere in the vicinity of Cuzco, there was a city founded by the legendary Inca ruler Pachacutec Yupanqui. The beautiful city high in the mountains was an excellent refuge.

It was not until the 1990s that historians began to question the validity of the name Machu Picchu.
It was not until the 1990s that historians began to question the validity of the name Machu Picchu.

After the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors, Machu Picchu was abandoned by the inhabitants. To this day, no one knows where they went. True, some historians believe that this place has never really been “lost”…

Bingham wanted to find the mysterious city. It was his dream. Local guides helped the archaeologist get to the site. There he asked one of them to write down the name in a field journal. As the story goes, a peasant named Melchor Arteaga wrote Macho Pischo. It sounded like “Picchu”. Since then, this name has been firmly entrenched in this place. It was not until the 1990s that historians began to question whether Machu Picchu was the true name or not.


Modern researchers Bauer and Gonzalez claim to have found evidence that Machu Picchu’s name is incorrect. Scholars say that the city was probably called either simply Picchu or Huayna Picchu. Interestingly, the name Machu Picchu is unfamiliar even to the locals. Even more interesting is that this place was listed in the atlas of 1904 (seven years before the “discovery” of Bingham) as the ruins of the city of Huayna Picchu.

The researchers found that Bingham most likely knew about it. In his field notebooks, there are notes that the locals told him about a certain area called Huayna Picchu, along the Urubamba River. This was before he went in search of the lost city. Just a year later, a landowner from Cusco also told an American archaeologist that the place was called Huayna Picchu. Why did he still keep the wrong name? Now, this is unlikely to be found out.

Ruins of Huayna Picchu.
Ruins of Huayna Picchu.

Spanish conquerors put an end

The most ironclad argument regarding the misname of Machu Picchu is found in the written accounts of the Spanish conquerors. At the end of the 16th century, they captured Cuzco. The indigenous population was going to reclaim their lands, including the city they called Huayna Picchu.

All of these findings coincided with the discovery that Machu Picchu is actually older than scientists previously thought. This was shown by modern radiocarbon analysis of human remains. This study showed that people lived here two decades before the time that is considered the date of the founding of the city. Now archaeologists have even more questions about this mysterious city, the mystery of which, probably, no one will ever comprehend… The ancients left many exciting mysteries.

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