In 1911 Hiram Bingham and the Yale Peruvian Expedition team first sighted Machu Picchu. The expedition would return to Peru two more times (1912 and 1914–15), mapping, excavating, and photographing the Andean region around Cuzco. Part of the legacy of the three expeditions is its set of collections that include exotic animals, books and antiquities, and skeletal remains. This article examines the practices and collecting technologies of the expedition to suggest that the objects collected as well as the technologies and practices used in collecting helped fashion Machu Picchu into a “lost city” that was “scientifically discovered” by Bingham. The expedition combined a reliance on prospecting by local huaqueros with the notion that science had a sovereign claim on those objects that might contribute to the accumulation of its knowledge. Ultimately, the re-visioning of Machu Picchu as a vestige of the glorious Inca race and a “scientific discovery” was materialized and evidenced through collected objects.

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