Machu Picchu ruin 'found earlier'

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A team of historians says the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, in Peru was discovered more than 40 years earlier than previously thought and ransacked.

The story about its discovery by the western world has been shaken up by a team of historians who say a German businessman looted its treasures more than 40 years before.

They say the adventurer, Augusto Berns, who traded in Peru's wood and gold, raided the citadel's tombs in 1867 apparently with the blessing of the Peruvian government.

He had set up a sawmill at the foot of the forested mountain on which Machu Picchu stands and systematically robbed precious artefacts which he sold to European galleries and museums.

Only when one of the historians found a map in Peru's national museum were his activities traced.

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James W Loewen - 6/6/2008

In this story an important word was omitted: "white." Machu Picchu was never lost, so it could hardly be found. Peruvians were farming its terraced fields and using its water system. They led both the German and the American to it. So we seem to be arguing about which was the first WHITE person to "discover" it. Just as my sister and I can argue as to which member of our family was first to discover oregano. Sigh.