On July 24th, 1911, explorer Hirm Bingham stumbled (and I mean stumbled!) onto one of the greatest archeological finds of the 20th century in the form of Machu Picchu, a lost Inca city in the Andes. It wasn’t exactly the “lost city” he was looking for, and there are some that say he only re-discovered it, but with his find, Bingham cemented his place in history, and inspired other explorers that followed.
A new book entitled Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu by historian Christopher Heaney takes a look at Bingham’s life and his influence on the iconic, whip-cracking, fictional archaeologist of the popular film series. Heaney sat down with National Geographic Adventure’s Mark Adams recently for an interview and to discuss the real life adventurer.
Heaney says that Bingham was actually searching for Vitcos and Vilcabamba, the last capitals of the Inca empire, when he came across Machu Picchu instead. He would find those two lost cities eventually as well, but that would come a few months later, making 1911 a very busy and memorable year for the explorer. In the interview, Heaney talks about these important finds and their historical significance.
It has been nearly 100 years since Bingham’s jungle adventure, and Machu Picchu has gone on to become the number one tourist attraction in Peru. But back in 1911, the area was a remote, mostly unexplored jungle, that was still waiting to give up its secrets. It must have been an exciting time to be an archaeologist.
Has anyone read the book? Any thoughts? Sounds really interesting.
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