NPR logo Photos: Machu Picchu 100 Years Ago

National Geographic

Photos: Machu Picchu 100 Years Ago

Hiram Bingham stands outside his tent during the 1912 expedition. National Geographic hide caption

toggle caption
National Geographic

Hiram Bingham stands outside his tent during the 1912 expedition.

National Geographic

One hundred years ago yesterday, Hiram Bingham, an assistant professor of Latin American history at Yale University, set out on an expedition to explore the reported ruins known as Machu Picchu with the help of two local Peruvians.

Though Bingham was not necessarily the first to "discover" the hidden city — he wasn't even a trained archaeologist — he was the first to make its existence public, according to National Geographic. He would return twice, supported by the National Geographic Society. And would eventually became a U.S. Senator!

The Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., is currently showing 40 black-and-white photographs from Bingham's three expeditions, mostly taken by Bingham himself. The show, called "Machu Picchu: A Lost City Uncovered, Photographs from the Hiram Bingham Expeditions 1911-15," was developed in collaboration with the Embassy of Peru in Washington, D.C. Here is a small selection of the images.