Bingham, Hiram (1875–1956)

views updated

Bingham, Hiram (1875–1956)

Hiram Bingham (b. 19 November 1875; d. 6 June 1956), U.S. explorer, scholar, author, and politician who sought the fabled Incan "lost city" of Vilcabamba and instead encountered (1911) and later popularized the ceremonial site of Machu Picchu in the Urubamba canyon of Cuzco, Peru. Born to a distinguished family of Protestant missionaries in Honolulu, Bingham studied at Yale to become a pastor and later at Berkeley and Harvard, where he specialized in Latin American history. Married to an heir of a wealthy Connecticut family, Bingham was able to finish his graduate studies and embark on several expeditions to South America. These included field trips to Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru between 1909 and 1915, when he was an assistant professor at Yale. Finding academic life too stifling, Bingham joined the U.S. military as an aviator during World War I. Later he entered politics in Connecticut, where he was elected lieutenant governor in 1922, governor in 1924, and U.S. senator in 1924, serving until 1933. He died in Washington, D.C. He wrote several books, including Inca Land (1922), Elihu Yale (1939), and The Lost City of the Incas (1948).

See alsoArchaeology .


Alfred M. Bingham, Portrait of an Explorer (1989).

                                   Alfonso W. Quiroz