Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today in history July 24, 1911: Hiram Bingham 'Discovers' Machu Picchu
Bingham had already made two expeditions to South America -- and published a book on each -- when he returned to Peru in 1911. He located the last Inca capital, Vitcos, and made the first ascent of the 21,763-foot Mt. Coropuma. Then came the find that would make him famous: Machu Picchu.

Some say Bingham was the inspiration for Indiana Jones, which may be partially true, but most have indicated Roy Chapman Andrews as the archetype. Probably a combination, plus the fictional ones from the movie serials that Lucas says it the movie was based on.

UPDATE: If you can get hold of it, David Drew did a series, oh, probably 20 years ago now (egad!) that featured Bingham in one of the eps. The series followed several relatively unknown early explorers such as Giovanni Belzoni (Egypt), and John Seeley (India) who discovered some of these early monuments. In his Machu Picchu ep he really gets to the remoteness of the place and how difficult it would have been to reach it.