We met an extraordinary man tonight. You don’t meet many folks like this. Paolo Greer, who has spent much of the last two decades studying Inca ruins, and has made 17 trips from his home in Alaska to Peru (for several-month stints), spoke tonight at a meeting of the South American Explorers Club in Cusco, Peru. In 2008 Greer made the controversial claim that Machu Picchu was “discovered” 43 years before Bingham’s arrival by an obscure German entrepreneur named Augusto Berns. He showed maps and notes written by Berns in his slideshow, which highlighted historical artifacts and photographs, supported many of his claims about Inca history – not just that of the Machu Picchu site. My family and I sat in an audience of fascinated listeners. Greer’s passion for history and archeology is rare. His aerial photography techniques were pre-google earth satellite images and his analysis of data is mind boggling for me.
We will visit Machu Picchu in June. Having Greer’s unique perspective and informed insights will make our visit more meaningful. His intent? I think mostly to bring historical awareness to one of the world’s wonders which has been (in his words,) “sadly, turned into a Disney-like attraction.”