Machu picchu is found by the commencement of the Cusquenian Amazonian Jungle, so the chance of having rains or showers is latent by any time of the year. In the hottest days it is possible to get even about 26° Celsius (78.8° Fahrenheit), while that in the coldest early mornings in June and July the temperature may drop to -2° C. (28.4° F); the Machu picchu average annual temperature is 16 degrees Celsius. Annually, there is an average of rains from 1571 mm. (61 in.) to 2381 millimeters (93 in.). It is obvious that the monthly relative humidity is in direct relationship to rains, so the humidity average is from 77% during the dry months to 91% in the rainy months.


Machu picchu (like most of the Quechua names in the region) is a compound word that comes from machu = old or ancient, and picchu = peak or mountain; therefore, Machu picchu is translated as "Old Mountain". The famous mountain that is seen in front, and appears in most of the classical views of the site is named Waynapicchu (Young Mountain). Unfortunately the original names of the mentioned sectors are lost, Machu picchu, Waynapicchu and some other proper names used today are contemporary ones; ascribed probably by farmers living in the region before Bingham's arrival. However, according to studies about some XVI century documents, the original name of the whole area might be "Picchu"

inside machupicchu

It is known that Hiram Bingham, a descendant of missionaries, was the man who found Machu picchu for the contemporary world and modern science. He was a North-American historian born in Honolulu, Hawaii; who in 1907 taught the South-American History and Geography course in Yale University. As a history professor specialized in South-America he was chosen as delegate of his country to the First Pan-American Scientific Congress carried out in Chile in 1908. Years before, in 1906 he had begun his activities as explorer taking a horseback journey from Caracas to Bogota, following the liberator Simon Bolivar's way.

aerial photo of machupicchu

Then he followed the old colonial trade way from Buenos Aires to Lima, arriving to this Andean region in 1909. That year, he was invited by the prefect of Apurimac Mr. Juan Jose Nuñez in order to start an exploration from Abancay towards Choquekirau and to study what it was believed to be the last Capital of the Inkas. Machu picchu Since the end of the colonial epoch, many myths had been created about the existence the "Inkas' treasures" that according to tradition had been taken by Manko Inka is his retreat to Willkapanpa (willka = sacred, panpa = plain; its Spanish form is "Vilcabamba"); thus it was so common by that time to find treasure hunters willing to get to this last Inkas' dwelling. That same intention moved Bingham to study ancient chronicles and even to visit Spanish archives, and subsequently in 1911 to come back to Peru with the aim of performing studies of geography, geology and botany, and for sure, also in order to try finding Willkapanpa.

moon temple

In Qosqo, Albert Giesecke, a compatriot of his and rector of the local University told him that in January 1911 he had taken a trip towards the Convencion Valley invited by the rich landlord Mr. Braulio Polo y la Borda, who told Bingham that on the hills facing Mandor there were ancient constructions covered by vegetation where cattle were frequently lost. Moreover, Giesecke had spoken to Melchor Arteaga, a half-breed man who rented farmlands in the area and had seen the Inkan buildings and who had promised to take him to the ruins during the dry season. The information was reserved for Bingham, and on July 23, 1911 he showed up in Mandor along with a policeman, Sergeant Carrasco, who escorted him by order of the Peruvian government, and two members of his expedition. Over there they met Melchor Arteaga who would be the guide in order to get to the Inkan City. Early the next day it was cold and showering, and Arteaga did not like the idea of going up the ruins, his attitude changed positively when Bingham offered to pay him one silver "sol", after examining the field they decided to climb up by the sector where nowadays is the zigzagging road. After the exhausting climb, at noon they arrived at another hut where they found Anacleto Alvarez and Toribio Recharte, two humble peasants who along with their families lived in the area about four years and cultivated the pre-Hispanic farming terraces. After a short break, they provided an eight year old boy as the guide for Bingham and his military escort in order to get the Inkan buildings that were partially covered with entangled vegetation. That was how Bingham, at 35 years old, stumbled onto Machupicchu; a fortuitous happening that made manifest a great "discovery". That day, the time he spent exploring, taking pictures, drawing and describing Machupicchu was about four hours. Later he continued with his journey arriving even as far as Rosaspata, Ñust'a Hisp'ana, Pampaconas and Espiritu Pampa; places that apparently did not attract the explorer so much.

inca sun watch

After his exploration, Bingham went back to the USA in order to put together a multidisciplinary expedition ant to look for economic support that was granted to him by the Yale University and the National Geographic Society. Back in Peru in 1912, the Peruvian government in Lima facing Bingham's request in order to execute works in Machu picchu, by means of law given on October 31, 1912, authorized him to carry out his projected works. Besides, according to the fourth article of that authorization Bingham could freely take out of the country all the obtained pieces during his explorations, but with commitment of giving them back to Peru's simple petition. It was an authorization in the name of "international etiquette" that infringed the current law and caused an irreparable damage to Peru's cultural heritage, because those objects taken in 1912 are still kept in Yale University. It was in 1912 when the vegetation was cleared, extensive excavations were performed and most of the Inkan tombs were found around Machupicchu. Some months later, due to the great success of Bingham's publications in the USA, it was decided to organize a new expedition for 1914-15. Not even for that occasion the expedition got previous authorization in order to perform explorations or excavations in Peru, there were serious complaints and a very strong opposition against Bingham works, thus in August 1915 he fled back to the USA. At the end, again in 1916, the Peruvian government authorized the departure of the pieces found by that expedition, but this time they were given back to Peru in 1921.

Machupicchu yard

In 1911, Hiram Bingham believed that he had found Manko Inka's Vilcabamba in Machu picchu; that is demonstrated wrong today because the exact location of that city and some other sites stated in chronicles are already known. On the other hand, today it is frequently asked how 150 or 180 Spaniards, the first ones who arrived here, could conquer so easily the Inkan Civilization that had from 12 to 16 million people; what is true, is that it was not a consequence of their physical power neither of their privileged wisdom, but simply because when the invaders arrived here there was a bloody civil war. Qosqo was always Tawantinsuyo's capital, its legitimate monarch was Thupa Kusi Wallpaq, whom history knows as Waskar Inka who had a step brother named Atawallpa that wanted to usurp power moving himself to Tumipanpa in present day Cuenca, Ecuador, where he crowned himself as the new Inka. Atawallpa was willing to overthrow his step brother, who after some battles was seized in October, 1532; subsequently, the Spaniards arrived to the Peruvian coasts and in November entered into the city of Cajamarca. Spaniards seized Atawallpa who from his imprisonment ordered to murder Waskar and all the Cusquenian "orejones" ("big eared people" = the Inkan nobility). As soon as they were told about the happenings, the Spaniards blamed and sued Atawallpa and imposed the death sentence upon him. After having murdered Atawallpa, they went towards Qosqo, where they were welcomed believing that they were avengers of the Inkan Capital because they had murdered its enemy. Moreover, they were considered as gods because they were so different, had white skin, beard, fire weapons, horses; and even, Quechuas believed that horse and Spaniard were a single being, able to split into two. Besides, it was also believed that they were divinities because there was an old myth that stated that the Inkas' gods had to arrive by ship, exactly how Spaniards did. Because of all those reasons they were accepted and welcomed in the Quechuas' Capital. Its inhabitants made them know everything they had, their palaces, temples, towns and cities; but, by that time no one said anything about Machupicchu because it seems that it was a very special and secret city or otherwise it was already lost and forgotten. The archaeological evidences state a total Spanish absence, there are no influences in pottery or architecture, and the "idolatry extirpators" (Catholic priests) did not destroy its temples as it happened in every spot known by Spaniards; thus it is supposed that Spaniards did not arrive and perhaps did not know anything about Machu picchu.

Because of its location strategically established for its protection, because of its number of temples and their architectonic quality, because of the small amount of "kanchas" (apartments for extended families), and because of the several characteristics that Machu picchu presents: originally, it was a regional power center dependent from Qosqo. That is, it was a small religious and political capital. Surely, it served as a dwelling for the Inka or any high ranked dignitary from the Capital, as well as for a selected nobility that had many privileges and was served by hundreds of servants. Most modern archaeologists and historians state that Machupicchu was made built and used by Inka Pachakuteq, who was the Tawantinsuyo's greatest statesman and ruled from 1438 to 1471, as his "Royal Estate". Scholars use for this assertion the chronological dating given by the carbon 14 or radiocarbon, its doubtless "Imperial Inka" architectonic style, the predominant ceramic pieces, and a couple of ancient chronicles found in the Qosqo archives. Even more, the archaeological evidences discard totally any possibility of pre-Inkan settlements in this region.

According to the buildings that are found in the Inkan City, the population during its apogee is estimated to have been about 1000 people. Osteologist John W. Verano in a recent study of the human remains found by the Bingham expeditions, states that there was a relative balance between the male and female population in Machu picchu. Thus it discards the theory based in George Eaton's study that mistakenly asserted that 80 % of that population were women; that theory said that in Machu picchu was an important "Aqllawasi" (House of Chosen Women), chosen among the prettiest and most virtuous, they were considered as the Sun's wives. Many modern scholars suggest that a large part of them were the Inka's wives too, considering that he was the son of the Sun; therefore, a living god. Thus the Inka lived in his property, along with his wives. It was normal for the Inka to have hundreds of concubines, and for example, our history states that Wayna Qhapaq who was father of Waskar and Atawallpa had more than 400 children. Nevertheless, his main wife must have been a sister of his; only that way they could keep the "solar blood" that they supposedly had. The throne heir had to be a son of the Inka and his sister. From Verano's meticulous study is also known that Machupicchu's population was ethnically heterogeneous and people were not really strong neither showed any signs of having participated in warlike activities. Furthermore, his classification fits perfectly with the theory that Machupicchu was a royal estate belonging to the Inka Pachakuteq, and the human remains belong to the servants of that estate. The height of the adult men was an average of 1.57 meters (5'2" ft.) and that of women 1.48 m. (4'11" ft.) Moreover, Verano states that there is no unequivocal evidence of syphilis or any similar bacterial sickness. Though, there are two probable cases of tuberculosis.


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