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Centennial Anniversary: Bingham Rediscovers the Lost Inca City of Machu Picchu [Slide Show]

Although it may have been discovered by previous explorers, the young Yale lecturer introduced the world to an ancient archaeological masterpiece--for better and worse
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PRIME POSITION

The Incas built Machu Picchu on a ridge high above the Urubamba River, which provided them with an extensive view of the valley below . Bingham and his fellow explorers are said to have climbed this ridge to reach the ancient ruins.....[ More ]

TERRACE FARMING

An estimated 5,000 people built the farming terraces, temples and other structures at Machu Picchu . In addition to being a major tourist attraction, the site is also home to a large number of alpacas and llamas that roam the grounds.....[ More ]

BUILT TO LAST

Despite its location high in the mountains and dozens of kilometers from the nearest settlement, Machu Picchu's structures were made using large blocks of stone cut to fit together tightly without the need for mortar .....[ More ]

STILL A MYSTERY

Given the Incas had no written language, the true purpose of Machu Picchu remains open to debate, with some calling it a government retreat and others convinced that it was a defensive citadel.....[ More ]

A VIEW FROM BELOW

Machu Picchu is located at an elevation of about 2,450 meters on the edge of the Amazon Rain Forest and the Andes Mountains. The Incas used terraces such as those seen here to increase the land available for farming.....[ More ]

UNDISCOVERED SANCTUARY

Machu Picchu, sometimes called "The Lost City of the Incas," was build around1450 and was mysteriously abandoned less than 100 years later. This turned out to be fortuitous, as the conquering Spanish never knew of its existence.....[ More ]

MACHU PICCHU

A century ago Bingham rediscovered the ancient ruins of the Machu Picchu Inca sanctuary. The site consists of about 140 buildings made of heavy granite. Machu Picchu's remote location spared it from Spanish conquistadors who plundered the Inca Empire in search of gold.....[ More ]

SUN GATE

The Inca Trail ends at the Sun Gate, or " Intipunku ," on Machu Picchu Mountain. Straight ahead lie the main ruins of the site. Those not accessing Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail can take a bus along the winding road below.....[ More ]

PHUYUPATAMARCA

Bingham also discovered a massive stone staircase and ruins at Phuyupatamarca —meaning "the town in the clouds"—high along the Inca Trail.....[ More ]

STEEP CLIMB

The Inca Trail includes several steep stone stairways dug into the mountainsides.....[ More ]

RUNKURAQAY

Runkuraqay was a "tambo" —Incan structure built for administrative and military purposes along the Inca Trail.....[ More ]

DEAD WOMAN'S PASS

This crossing through the Andes along the Inca Trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu is perched about 4,200 meters above sea level. Called Warmiwañusq'a pass , or "Pass of the Dead Woman," it is the highest pass in the Inca Trail.....[ More ]

INCA TRAIL

The Inca Trail winds through the Andes connecting Cusco to Machu Picchu. Much of the trail is paved with large stones.....[ More ]

INCA HOME

Inside a home in Ollantaytambo a family has created a shrine that includes the skulls of some of their ancestors.....[ More ]

OLLANTAYTAMBO

Ollantaytambo is an Inca archaeological site about 60 kilometers from Cusco. The Inca agricultural terraces create small tiers of fertile land on very steep slopes. Ollantaytambo is the best surviving example of an Inca town, with its stonework, narrow cobbled streets, family courtyards and a water system still maintained as it was built in Inca times.....[ More ]

SACSAYHUAMAN

Sacsayhuamán is a walled complex outside Cusco built on a steep hill overlooking the city. The site includes a large white statue of Christ, a remnant of the Spanish conquistadors. Inset: One of the walls features a set of large stones configured in the shape of a puma paw.....[ More ]

INCA CAPITAL

Located in southeastern Peru 3,300 meters above sea level, Cusco served as the capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century to 1532, just prior to the Spanish invasion. The conquistador Francisco Pizarro sacked much of the Inca city in 1535, though it retains some of its pre-Columbian architecture alongside the Spanish colonial architecture.....[ More ]

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