Machu Picchu has been misnamed for over 100 years. Historians

(CNN) – It’s hard to get rid of some mistakes.

For more than 100 years, Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most famous archeological sites, has been misnamed, according to a report published in the journal Ñawpa Pacha: Institute of Andean Studies.

The Incas who built the ancient city probably called it Huana Pichu, the report said.

Emily Dean, a professor of anthropology at the University of Southern Utah in Cedar City, says Huana translates as “new or young” and Pichu means “mountain top” in the indigenous Quechua language. He was not involved in the report. Machu Picchu means “old”, so we call it the old mountain peak, he added.

The Inca settlement was believed to have been built around 1420 as the property of the royal Inca people living in Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire, according to report author Brian Bauer, professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

When the Spaniards later defeated the Incas, Juana Pichu was abandoned, the report said. It was hidden in the depths of the Andes Mountains for centuries until it was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911.

Engaged in translation

Bauer said in his field note, Bingham decided to call the ancient city of Machu Picchu, based on information provided to him by his guide, Melcho Artega, a farmer living in the area.

During Bauer’s research in Machu Picchu, he found evidence that his real name was something else. The author of the report, Donato Amado Gonzalez – a historian in the Peruvian Ministry of Culture – independently discovered the same pattern, so they decided to come up with a real name together.

Investigators began looking at Bingham’s notes, where he said he was unsure of the names of the ruins when he first visited them. From there, Bauer and Amado Gonzalez reviewed printed maps and atlases before and after Bingham’s visit.

One of the most striking documents is that a 1588 report states that indigenous peoples in the Vilkabamba region are considering returning to Huana Pichu, Bauer said.

The error in the name is not surprising, Dean said, because many non-Peruvian archaeologists have not made much effort to study the name of the place and have not fully understood Quechua.

“More broadly, this search challenges the popular legend that Hiram Bingham invented Machu Picchu,” he said. The locals knew about the site long before Bingham arrived.

Name change is less likely

Despite the discovery of the region’s original name, it will probably remain Machu Picchu, Bauer said.

“We would not recommend changing the name as Machu Picchu is known worldwide,” he added.

Machu Picchu has also been published in thousands of books, articles, advertisements and legal documents, Dean said.

The Peruvian people and their government have adopted the new name, so while it is an interesting addition to the site’s history, it will not change its modern name, he noted.

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