They question the true name of Machu Picchu

The name by which the Incas referred to Macchu Picchuone of the most recognized archaeological sites in the world, was originally Huayna Picchu, the closest mountain, reveals a new study.

When Hiram Bingham first visited the ruins in 1911, drawing the world’s attention, they were little known, even among those who lived in the Cusco region in Peru.

More than 110 years after Bingham’s first visit to the site, historian Donato Amado Gonzales of Peru’s Ministry of Culture (Cusco) and archaeologist Brian S. Bauer of the University of Illinois Chicago reviewed Bingham’s original field notes, early 20th century maps of the region, and centuries-old territorial documents from different archives. Their findings suggest that less was known about the site than previously thought.

In their article, published by Ñawpa Pacha: Journal of Andean Archaeology, the researchers conclude that the Incas originally called it Huayna Picchuby the rocky summit that is closest to the site, and not Machu Picchuwhich is the name of the highest mountain near the ancient city.

"We begin with the uncertainty of the name of the ruins when Bingham first visited them and then review various printed maps and atlases prior to Bingham’s visit to the ruins."Bauer, a professor of anthropology at UIC, said in a statement. "There is significant data suggesting that the Inca city was actually called Picchu or more likely, Huayna Picchu.".

The researchers found that the ruins of an Inca town called Huayna Picchu are mentioned in a 1904 atlas that was published seven years before Bingham arrived in Peru. In addition, they detail that Bingham was informed in 1911 of the ruins called Huayna Picchu along the Urubamba River before leaving Cusco to search for the remains. The son of a landowner he later told Bingham in 1912 that the ruins were called Huayna Picchu.

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According to Bauer, the most definitive connections with the original name of the Inca city preserved in the accounts written by the Spanish relatively soon after the region came under his control in the late 16th century.

"We end with an impressive account of late 16th century when the indigenous people of the region were considering returning to reoccupy the site they called Huayna Picchu"said.

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