Bingham, Hiram, 1875–1956, American archaeologist, historian, and statesman

Bingham, Hiram, 1875–1956, American archaeologist, historian, and statesman, b. Honolulu; son of Hiram Bingham (1831–1908). He was educated at Yale (B.A., 1898), the Univ. of California (M.A., 1900), and Harvard (M.A., 1901; Ph.D., 1905) and later taught (1907–23) at Yale. Bingham headed archaeological expeditions sent from Yale in 1911, 1912, and 1914–15 to South America and investigated the Inca ruins of Vitcos and Machu Picchu in 1911 and 1912, bringing them to the attention of the outside world for the first time. Bingham incorrectly identified Machu Picchu as the “lost city” of Vilcabamba, the final stronghold of the Inca leader Manco Capac against the Spanish, which was finally destroyed in 1572. Ironically, Bingham was the first modern explorer to reach Espiritu Pampa, located c.60 miles (110 km) east of Machu Picchu, a site now recognized by most experts as the actual remains of Vilcabamba. His well-known books deal with these expeditions and with Machu Picchu—Journal of an Expedition across Venezuela and Colombia (1909), Across South America (1911), Inca Land (1922), Machu Picchu, a Citadel of the Incas (1930), and Lost City of the Incas (1948). In World War I he was notable as an aviator, heading an Allied flying school in France. After leaving Yale, he served as lieutenant governor (1923–24) and governor (1925) of Connecticut and as a U.S. senator (1925–33). He also wrote about the Monroe Doctrine and other policies of state.

See C. Heaney, Cradle of Gold (2010).

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