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No other ruin evokes so powerfully the grandeur and mystery of a forgotten civilization as Machu Picchu. Since its existence was first publicized in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, this World Heritage site has become the embodiment of a “lost city”—although nearly half a million people find their way there every year. Until now, no survey of the site, history of its archaeological exploration, and assessment of the city’s meaning have been brought together in one authoritative and portable volume.
In the centenary of this enigmatic site’s “rediscovery,” David Drew offers an up-to-date guide to the ruins, in all their complexity. His vivid account includes the story of Hiram Bingham’s expeditions and a judicious appraisal of their achievements and failings. He examines the latest theories on the purpose and functioning of the city and the circumstances of its abandonment, and he explores the powerful symbolic significance the site has acquired since its discovery for different groups of people. Drew also looks dispassionately at how the fabric of the city has fared over the last century and the dangers to the region’s environment that its immense popularity now presents. A final chapter covers the controversy over the future of items removed by Bingham from Machu Picchu, which currently reside in Yale University’s Peabody Museum.
Much more than a guidebook, Machu Picchu enables readers to appreciate the magic and multiple meanings of perhaps the most romantic ruin in the world.
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David Drew is an archaeologist, lecturer, and broadcaster, and author of The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings.
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