Last updated at 18:06 BST, Friday, 08 July 2011

Machu Picchu marks 100 years of ‘discovery’

Summary

08 July 2011

This week it will be 100 years since an American historian announced the discovery of Machu Picchu, the famous Incan city in Peru. Andean dances, concerts, mystic rituals and academic conferences are planned for the celebration.

Reporter:
Dan Collyns

Machu Picchu

It is thought that the Incas built Machu Picchu around 1450

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It's one of the most stunning and iconic landmarks in the world, but for Peruvians Machu Picchu is much more than an archaeological site. It's become a symbol of national identity even though its origins are still shrouded in mystery.

Some believe it may have been a refuge for an Inca ruler, others that it was a religious sanctuary. It's all part of the attraction for the nearly million tourists who visit the mountain-top citadel every year.

A hundred years ago the American historian Hiram Bingham claimed to have discovered the city high up in the Andes, hidden by dense jungle. Most experts now agree that Mr Bingham, from Yale University, was not the first to rediscover Machu Picchu. A Peruvian explorer had been there a decade earlier.

The story of its discovery may have been romanticised, yet Mr Bingham's expedition certainly made this unknown wonder of the world famous.

Thousands of artefacts which he took from these ruins are now being returned. They'll go on display in nearby Cuzco later this month. A century after Mr Bingham's visit Peruvians are happy to share this place with the world, but they're also keen to reclaim Machu Picchu as their own.

Dan Collyns, BBC News, Cuzco

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Vocabulary

stunning

impressive

an archaeological site

a place that is important or significant because it can teach us about people and cultures of the past

national identity

nationality, pride in your country

shrouded in mystery

mostly unknown

a refuge

a place of safety

a religious sanctuary

an area of worship of a god or goddess

citadel

fortress

romanticised

idealised

artefacts

historical man-made items

to reclaim

to take back

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