Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ignorance is the Root

What a lovely book. Details. Lots of lovely details and photos. I am very fond of details - in case you missed it.

The full story of the Yale Peruvian Expedition (Y.P.E.) of 1911 in a book. The story his father never wrote!

Alfred Bingham wrote the book 'Portrait of an Explorer. Hiram Bingham, Discoverer of Machu Picchu' (1989). His father was Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956). Number I (1789-1869) was reverent and converted personally the people of the Hawaiian Islands to Christianity. Number II (1831-1908) was reverent too and translated the Bible, from original Hebrew and Greek, into the language of the Gilbert Islands in Micronesia. Hiram III was supposed to become a saviour of the "souls of the heaten" too but instead he became a history teacher/ professor. Specialized in the history of the South Americas.

Letter from Hiram III to II on 6 July 1907 (quote):
"I suppose it is in my blood to wish to strike into untrod fields and take up burdens that others are not trying to lift. I believe that Ignorance is the root of most evil in the world. Wars, public, private and personal, are generally caused by ignorance. 'Lux et Veritas' is then the motto for me."

His M.A. thesis in history, on university of California, was on 'The Growth of American Supremacy in Hawaii'. The subject of his Ph.D, on Harvard university, was the colonization project in South America undertaken by a Scottish trading company in the late 1600s.

After his "M.A." he got his "A.M". She was Alfreda Mitchell (1874-1967). Rich. One of the grandchildren of Charles Tiffany (1812-1902). The jewellery and silverware company that bore his name and made him a millionaire.  Hiram III and Alfreda met on Hawaii in 1898. The place where Hiram II and III lived and Alfreda landed with her parents while traveling with their yacht. Photo Hiram III and Alfreda around 1900.
They married in 1900 - both at the age of 25 and had seven sons together. The writer Alfred (1905-1998) was the third son. Photo: Hiram II (standing left), Hiram III (standing right), aunt Lydia (left below), Alfreda (right below) and four of their sons in 1908.
Hiram III considered himself an explorer in the first place. Not a teacher. 'Who is Who in America' 1910-1911:

Incidentally! Hiram III became world famous by "discovering" Machu Picchu. Discovering like Columbus discovered America. These Inca ruins were found by Hiram incidentally on his first Y.P.E. in 1911 while looking and paying for let him show "ancient (Inca) ruins". Two more expeditions would follow in 1912 and 1914-1915. The first Y.P.E. had four goals:
1. Determine how far into the Amazon basis the Inca empire had extended.
2. Where had the last Inca rulers maintained a remnant of empire for a generation after the conquest of the Spanish. Finding the lost cities Vitcos and Vilcabamba.
3. Survey and mapping along 73rd meridian from one side of the Andes to the other.
4. Determine whether Coropuna is the highest mountain in the Americas.

Two lost cities found. Hiram personally found Vitcos, the last capital of the Incas. Here lived the last Inca (King) for 36 years, between 1536-1572. He also found the last stronghold of the Inca at Espirito Pampa. By the Spanish called Vilcabamba Viejo. Where the Incas fled to after the Spanish drove them from Vitcos.

Quote (page 180):
"His technique for finding ruins was simple enough. He pumped information out of the native population wherever he went and offered monetary rewards for any who could show him an Inca ruin."

And Machu Picchu? Hiram III 's hypothesis was that it was the last refuge of the Inca dynasty: Vilcabamba Viejo. A hypothesis that no historian now believes. One (of many) hypothesis is that Machu Picchu was the summer residence. I wrote on this before here and here.


  • Hiram III was a tough director. None of the expedition members of the first Y.P.E. from 1911 joined one of the two other expeditions
  • The National Geographic Magazine made three special editions on Machu Picchu: volume 24 'In the Wonderland of Peru' (1913), volume 27 'The Story of Machu Picchu' (1915) and volume 29 'Further Explorations in the Land of the Incas' (1916) 
  • Exploration was for him more than adventuring (page 318): "it had to be justified as contributing to the advancement of knowledge. He had therefore to complete his reports on what he had found. Moreover, he had an intense respect for books and considered the writing of books to be the high calling that would bring him the renown he sought."
  • In World War I he became aviator and commanded, as lieutenant colonel, in 1918, the largest flying school of the Allies: 8,000 men, 10 airfields and thousand airplanes 
  • In  the 1920s he was elected governor of Connecticut and U.S. senator
  • He wrote  in 1939 a biography on Elihuu Yale. The benefactor of the Collegiate School in the Colony of Connecticut, which in 1718 was renamed in Yale College in his honor
  • Real-life inspiration of the Indiana Jones (films) character (source). One of many. Not being confirmed by Lucas or Spielberg. Only resemblances I see: hat, professor and explorer. Nothing else