Hiram Bingham III was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 19, 1875. He is the one who after an expedition uncovered the citadel of Machu Picchu. The North American archaeologist and political scholar began the scientific investigation of Machu Picchu, in the ancient territory occupied by the Incas, in a remote area of the Peruvian Andes.
However, it is known that Hiram Bingham may have arrived at Machu Picchu after the German adventurer Augusto Berns, who, according to some studies, arrived in the lost city of the Incas in 1867. However, it was Bingham and his work “THE LOST CITY OF THE INCAS” who made the city of Machu Picchu known to the world.
Who was Hiram Bingham?
Hiram Bingham III, son and grandson of Protestant missionaries who carried out evangelizing work in the Pacific Islands, was born in 1875. After completing his school training in Hawaii, he was fortunate to be sent to pursue higher studies in the traditional and cultured region of New England.
In this way, he obtained a bachelor’s degree from Yale (1898), married the daughter of a rich Yankee family, and finished his university degree at Harvard, where he came into contact with texts and research on Latin American history and received a doctorate in 1905.
But who really was Hiram Bingham? His extraordinary adventurous spirit led him to undertake, almost immediately, his first tours of South America. Repeating Bolívar’s triumphal path in the war of independence, he crossed the Andes of Venezuela and Colombia on mule back, and later traveled south to speak at an academic congress in Santiago de Chile (1908).
This trip gave him the opportunity to cross the mountains of Peru and to inspect, especially, the then famous ruins of Choquequirao (Apurímac), which supposedly corresponded to the last residence of the sovereigns of Tahuantinsuyo.
Hiram Bingham’s ambition and eagerness for adventure later found new outlets in flying airplanes and in a political career. The explorer, a member of the Republican Party, served in the air force during World War I, was elected governor of the state of Connecticut, and held a seat in the Washington Senate from 1925 to 1933.
But he never stopped cultivating his taste for the letters. Among his various books, it is worth mentioning B those that he dedicated to his expedition along the Bolívar route (1909), to his trip through South America (1911), to the Monroe doctrine (1913), to his services in the military aviation (1920), the country of the Incas (1922), the citadel of MachuPicchu (1930) and the life of Elihu Yale (1939).
In 1956, in Washington, the life of this remarkable adventurer was extinguished. A true man of action and letters who will always be remembered – as his son Alfred M. Bingham quotes him – for his eagerness to satisfy the “desire for magnificence.”
Rediscovery of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham
On July 23, 1911, Hiram Bingham‘s expedition reached the surroundings of the citadel of Machu Picchu. The weather conditions were quite unfavorable, so they looked for accommodation in the houses of some peasants,
who lived very close to the area, in this place, the peasant Melchor Arteaga tells the North American explorer about the existence of the ruins of an ancient city of stone, and accepts the sum of a silver dollar to drive it to that place.
On July 24, and despite the bad weather, Bingham, the peasant and a representative of the Peruvian government, ventured to cross the mighty Vilcanota river.
Bingham, the farmer and a representative of the Peruvian government went despite bad weather, gray clouds and torrential tropical rains. The other members of the team preferred to shelter in place. The professor and the two companions had to cross the wild Vilcanota River through a weak log bridge,
and after climbing approximately 700 meters of a steep mountain thick with vegetation. Halfway through they meet peasant children who lived in the surroundings, they agreed to guide the 3 men thanks to the fact that they knew the territory very well. They climbed for hours until finally their perseverance was rewarded.
He had before his eyes the secret mountain fortress, which was used as a refuge against Spanish rule in the 16th century.
On July 24, 1911 Hiram Bingham re-discovers the Citadel of Machu Picchu. The expedition owed its success in large part to Bingham’s steadfastness and courage. That he continued his expedition, putting his life at risk many times to do so. There he found numerous remains of masonry and was particularly struck by the similarity of one of the structures in the Temple of the Sun in the imperial city of Cusco.
In 1912 Hiram Bingham led the expedition that excavated Machu Picchu, and returned there in 1915. He convinced himself that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba, and it was not until the 1950s that his claim was seriously debated. Later explorations of Bingham revealed important archaeological groups such as Vitcos and Espiritu Pampa.
A larger ruin excavated in 1964 by American archaeologist Gene Savoy, proved to be a more likely site for Vilcabamba.
Tours to Machu Picchu
Publications and work of Hiram Bingham III
Bingham is a member of numerous associations, including the National Geographical Society and the Royal Geographical Society. He also wrote books on each of his trips: Diary of an expedition through Venezuela and Colombia; Inca Land (1922); Machu-Picchu, the citadel of the Incas (1930) and The Lost City of the Incas (1948).
Hiram Bingham III entered politics by being elected Lieutenant Governor of the state of Connecticut from 1922 to 1924. After winning the governorship in 1924, he resigned almost immediately, to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. He was reelected in 1926. After this he devoted himself to his business interests.
In 1936 Alfreda, his wife, asks for a divorce. Two of his sons testified on behalf of their mother and in March 1937, the Florida Court granted a divorce. A month later Hiram Bingham married Suzanne Carro. Hiram was happy in his new marriage. Hiram took up residence in Washington.
After the Second World War Hiram Bingham III wrote his book “The Lost City of the Incas”, dedicated to his wife Suzanne, 37 years after the discovery of this City, at 73 years of age in 1948, the historian returned to Machu Picchu and inaugurated the Hiram Bingham highway between the so-called Ruinas Bridge over the Vilcanota River and the entrance to the city of Machu Picchu.
In 1951 he was appointed to the Civil Service Loyalty Review Board, during the administration of President Harry S. Truman, helping to investigate controversial cases of suspected subversion in the State Department. 5 years later, on June 6, 1956, Hiram Bingham died in the city of Washington, United States; he had a burial with military honors in Arlington Cemetery.