Built high up in the Andes Mountains by the Incan civilization over 500 years ago, Machu Picchu remains one of the most fascinating and popular visitor attractions in all of Peru.
Now, however, it turns out that we may have been calling it the wrong thing for over 100 years.
According to a new paper by Donato Amado Gonzales of Peru’s ministry of culture and Brian S Bauer from the University of Illinois Chicago, the name ‘Machu Picchu’ doesn’t actually appear in any of the documents and field notes of its modern-day discoverer Hiram Bingham, nor on any maps from before that time.
“We began with the uncertainty of the name of the ruins when Bingham first visited them and then reviewed several maps and atlases printed before Bingham’s visit to the ruins,” said Bauer.
“There is significant data which suggest that the Inca city actually was called Picchu or more likely, Huayna Picchu.”
Further research has indicated that the site was referred to as Huayna Picchu in maps before Bingham’s arrival, as well as in accounts written by Spanish conquerors in the 16th-Century.
“We end with a stunning, late 16th-century account when the indigenous people of the region were considering returning to reoccupy the site, which they called Huayna Picchu,” said Bauer.
Even so, the name Machu Picchu has since become so closely associated with the site that there wouldn’t be any point in changing it now.