The world has been calling Machu Picchu the wrong name for over a century: report

The world has known the historic ancient site as “Machu Picchu” for over a century. Researchers say the city was originally simply called “Picchu” or “Huayna Picchu.” Nevertheless, the city is unlikely to change its name. Loading Something is loading.

What the world has come to know as Machu Picchu for more than a century was actually called something else before its rediscovery in 1911, according to new findings.

In a report titled “The Ancient Inca Town Named Huayna Picchu,” researchers say the town was originally simply called “Picchu” or “Huayna Picchu” at the time of its formation.

Historian Donato Amado Gonzales of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture and archaeologist Brian S. Bauer of the University of Illinois Chicago wrote about the discovery in the report, published last August in the “Ñawpa Pacha: Journal of the Institute of Andean Studies.”

Emily Dean, a professor of anthropology at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, told CNN that “Huayna Picchu” means new or young mountain peak in the native Quechua language. “Machu”, on the other hand, translates to “old”.

Amado Gonzales and Bauer wrote that Hiram Bingham III—the American explorer who encountered the city’s ruins in 1911—mentioned both “Huayna” and “Machu” in his notes.

“It is well documented that people knew about the ruins before Bingham,” the report says. “After all, at the time of Bingham’s first visit in 1911, two families lived next to the ruins, and Bingham was led to the site by Arteaga, who had been to the ruins at least once before.”

The paper also mentions that maps from the 19th century and documents from the 17th century – prior to the “discovery” of Bingham – confirm the identity of the site as Huayna Picchu or Picchu.

In addition, there is a “clear reference to ‘the ancient Inca city of Huayna Picchu’ from a document from 1715, and in a much earlier document from 1588 we are told that several inhabitants of the Vilcabamba region wanted to return to the city of Huayna. Picchu, where they hoped to return to their own religion.”

Machu Picchu remains a popular tourist attraction in Peru, attracting approximately one million tourists each year. Part of the ancient Inca Empire, the city is believed to have been founded in the 15th century in the Andes Mountains before being abandoned in the 16th century when the Spaniards took control of the Inca Empire, according to the Educational, Scientific and Cultural institutions of the United Nations Organization, which recognizes the site as a ‘historic sanctuary’.

Nevertheless, the city is unlikely to change its name.

“It may not have been Machu Picchu for the Incas, but now it’s Machu Picchu for the world,” Amado Gonzalez told NPR.

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