Peruvian farmer Agustín Lizárraga arrived in Machu Picchu (Cusco) nine years earlier than American Hiram Bingham.
Nine years before the anthropologist and researcher Hiram
Bingham arrived in Machu Picchu in 1911 and reeled in its official discoverer, Peruvian farmer Agustín Lizárraga was already standing on the ruins of this Inca citadel, without saber that was for one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
A story told not by history books, but by the Cuzqueño writer, the American engineer Rivas, who, through his book "Agustín Lizárraga: The Great Discoverer of Machu Picchu" summarizes for us his ten years of hard research into unreleased episodes of who he was true discoverer of Machu Picchu, which in quechua means 'old mountain'.
According to the writer, in 1902 Lizárraga, together with his cousin Enrique Palma Ruiz, the manager of the farm, undertook an expedition from the Collpani farm in the attempt to find new land to grow local produce. Thus began the trek through Cusco's mountain ranges without imagining finding the Inca city of Machu Picchu atop a hill, about 2,453 meters above sea level. Impressed by that find, Lizárraga left his signature on one of the rock walls of the Temple of Las Three Windows that would remain immortalized to this day: "Agustín Lizárraga July 14, 1902."
Even that detail Bingham had collected in his travel journals, but unlike the Peruvian peasant who lacked the support of the press and illustrious friends, the American reported to the world on July 24, 1911. Bingham had become the official discoverer thanks to the support of US President William Howard Taff, Peru's President Augusto B. Legua, National Geographic and Yale University.
Engineer Américo Rivas clarifies in his book that the great Lizárraga was not just a simple farmer, he was a farmer "who stood out in his social segment" and who accidentally arrived at the farm Collpani, which belonged to the Ochoa family, in busca of work.
According to the cousin's story, after his first encounter with Machu Picchu, Lizárraga toured the citadel, sniffing palaces and other buildings all day, which still kept ceramics in the kilns. "When they went down and told what they had seen, they said it looked like the city had been abandoned at once," Rivas said in an interview.
Although the Peruvian peasant had no good contacts to disseminate that find, he had relatives in Lima and even Paris, who came to the citadel in 1904 for a wedding. That social event allowed some of them to climb to the citadel. Yes, that visit was the first sightseeing trip to Machu Picchu.
After the wedding, the family members of the Ochoa family were so captivated by the discovery of Machu Picchu that they spread word of mouth in Lima and Paris, Rivas claimed. But that wasn't enough for all of Peru to know. Lizárraga drowned in the Vilcanota River in February 1912 without being officially proclaimed the true discoverer of the stone city that the Inca Pachac útec had to build in 1450. We already know what came next.