This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
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July 24 is the 205th day of the year (206th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 160 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1911, Machu Picchu discovered
American archeologist Hiram Bingham gets his first look at Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a summer retreat for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years afterwards, its existence was a secret known only to the peasants living in the region. That all changed in the summer of 1911, when Bingham arrived with a small team of explorers to search for the famous “lost” cities of the Incas.
Traveling on foot and by mule, Bingham and his team made their way from Cuzco into the Urubamba Valley, where a local farmer told them of some ruins located at the top of a nearby mountain. The farmer called the mountain Machu Picchu, which meant “Old Peak” in the native Quechua language. The next day–July 24–after a tough climb to the mountain’s ridge in cold and drizzly weather, Bingham met a small group of peasants who showed him the rest of the way. Led by an 11-year-old boy, Bingham got his first glimpse of the intricate network of stone terraces marking the entrance to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572, as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest. It is possible that most of its inhabitants died from smallpox introduced by travelers before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the area. The latter had notes of a place called Piccho, although there is no record of the Spanish having visited the remote city. The types of sacred rocks defaced by the conquistadors in other locations are untouched at Machu Picchu.
Hiram Bingham theorized that the complex was the traditional birthplace of the Incan “Virgins of the Suns”. More recent research by scholars such as John Howland Rowe and Richard Burger, has convinced most archaeologists that Machu Picchu was an estate of the Inca emperor Pachacuti. In addition, Johan Reinhard presented evidence that the site was selected because of its position relative to sacred landscape features such as its mountains, which are purported to be in alignment with key astronomical events important to the Incas.
Johan Reinhard believes Machu Picchu to be a sacred religious site. This theory stands mainly because of where Machu Picchu is located. Reinhard calls it “sacred geography” because the site is built on and around mountains that hold high religious importance in the Inca culture and in the previous culture that occupied the land. At the highest point of the mountain in which Machu Picchu was named after, there are “artificial platforms [and] these had a religious function, as is clear from the Inca ritual offerings found buried under them” (Reinhard 2007). These platforms also are found in other Incan religious sites. The site’s other stone structures have finely worked stones with niches and, from what the “Spaniards wrote about Inca sites, we know that these (types of) building(s) were of ritual significance” (Reinhard 2007). This would be the most convincing evidence that Reinhard points out because this type of stylistic stonework is only found at the religious sites so it would be natural that they would exist at this religious site. Another theory maintains that Machu Picchu was an Inca llaqta, a settlement built to control the economy of conquered regions. Yet another asserts that it may have been built as a prison for a select few who had committed heinous crimes against Inca society. An alternative theory is that it is an agricultural testing station. Different types of crops could be tested in the many different micro-climates afforded by the location and the terraces; these were not large enough to grow food on a large scale, but may have been used to determine what could grow where. Another theory suggests that the city was built as an abode for the deities, or for the coronation of kings
Although the citadel is located only about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Cusco, the Inca capital, the Spanish never found it and consequently did not plunder or destroy it, as they did many other sites. Over the centuries, the surrounding jungle grew over much of the site, and few outsiders knew of its existence.
1132 – Battle of Nocera between Ranulf II of Alife and Roger II of Sicily.
1148 – Louis VII of France lays siege to Damascus during the Second Crusade.
1411 – Battle of Harlaw, one of the bloodiest battles in Scotland, takes place.
1487 – Citizens of Leeuwarden, Netherlands strike against ban on foreign beer.
1534 – French explorer Jacques Cartier plants a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula and takes possession of the territory in the name of Francis I of France.
1567 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is forced to abdicate and replaced by her 1-year-old son James VI.
1701 – Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founds the trading post at Fort Pontchartrain, which later becomes the city of Detroit, Michigan.
1715 – A Spanish treasure fleet of 10 ships under Admiral Ubilla leaves Havana, Cuba for Spain. Seven days later, 9 of them sink in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, treasure is salvaged from these wrecks.
1814 – War of 1812: General Phineas Riall advances toward the Niagara River to halt Jacob Brown’s American invaders.
1823 – Slavery is abolished in Chile.
1847 – After 17 months of travel, Brigham Young leads 148 Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley, resulting in the establishment of Salt Lake City. Celebrations of this event include the Pioneer Day Utah state holiday and the Days of ’47 Parade.
1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Kernstown – Confederate General Jubal Anderson Early defeats Union troops led by General George Crook in an effort to keep them out of the Shenandoah Valley.
1866 – Reconstruction: Tennessee becomes the first U.S. State to be readmitted to the Union following the American Civil War.
1901 – O. Henry is released from prison in Austin, Texas after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank.
1911 – Hiram Bingham III re-discovers Machu Picchu, “the Lost City of the Incas”.
1915 – The passenger ship S.S. Eastland capsizes while tied to a dock in the Chicago River. A total of 844 passengers and crew are killed in the largest loss of life disaster from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes.
1923 – The Treaty of Lausanne, settling the boundaries of modern Turkey, is signed in Switzerland by Greece, Bulgaria and other countries that fought in World War I.
1924 – Archeologist Themistoklis Sofoulis becomes Prime Minister of Greece.
1927 – The Menin Gate war memorial is unveiled at Ypres.
1929 – The Kellogg-Briand Pact, renouncing war as an instrument of foreign policy, goes into effect (it is first signed in Paris on August 27, 1928 by most leading world powers).
1935 – The world’s first children’s railway opens in Tbilisi, USSR.
1937 – Alabama drops rape charges against the so-called “Scottsboro Boys”.
1938 – First ascent of the Eiger north face.
1943 – World War II: Operation Gomorrah begins: British and Canadian aeroplanes bomb Hamburg by night, those of the Americans by day. By the end of the operation in November, 9,000 tons of explosives will have killed more than 30,000 people and destroyed 280,000 buildings.
1950 – Cape Canaveral Air Force Station begins operations with the launch of a Bumper rocket.
1959 – At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev have a “Kitchen Debate”.
1966 – Michael Pelkey makes the first BASE jump from El Capitan along with Brian Schubert. Both came out with broken bones. BASE jumping has now been banned from El Cap.
1967 – During an official state visit to Canada, French President Charles de Gaulle declares to a crowd of over 100,000 in Montreal: Vive le Québec libre! (“Long live free Quebec!”). The statement, interpreted as support for Quebec independence, delighted many Quebecers but angered the Canadian government and many English Canadians.
1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 11 splashes down safely in the Pacific Ocean.
1972 – Bugojno group is caught by Yugoslav security forces.
1974 – Watergate scandal: the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon did not have the authority to withhold subpoenaed White House tapes and they order him to surrender the tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor.
1974 – After the Turkish invasion of Cyprus the Greek military junta collapses and democracy is restored.
1977 – End of a four day long Libyan-Egyptian War.
1980 – The Quietly Confident Quartet of Australia wins the Men’s 4 x 100 metre medley relay at the Moscow Olympics, the only time the United States has not won the event at Olympic level.
1982 – Heavy rain causes a mudslide that destroys a bridge at Nagasaki, Japan, killing 299.
1983 – George Brett batting for the Kansas City Royals against the New York Yankees, has a game-winning home run nullified in the “Pine Tar Incident”.
1990 – Iraqi forces start massing on the Kuwait-Iraq border.
1998 – Russell Eugene Weston Jr. bursts into the United States Capitol and opens fire killing two police officers. He is later ruled to be incompetent to stand trial.
2001 – Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the last Tsar of Bulgaria when he was a child, is sworn in as Prime Minister of Bulgaria, becoming the first monarch in history to regain political power through democratic election to a different office.
2001 – Bandaranaike Airport attack is carried out by 14 Tamil Tiger commandos, all died in this attack. They destroyed 11 Aircraft (mostly military) and damaged 15, there are no civilian casualties. This incident slowed down Sri Lankan economy.
2002 – Democrat James Traficant is expelled from the United States House of Representatives on a vote of 420 to 1.
2005 – Lance Armstrong wins his seventh consecutive Tour de France.
2010 – Over 80,000 people from around the world record their daily lives for submission to the YouTube documentary Life In A Day.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Christina the Astonishing
* Christina of Bolsena
* Declan of Ardmore
* Kinga of Poland
* July 24 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
* Pioneer Day (Utah) and its related observances:
* Stirling Settler Days (Stirling, Alberta)
* Simon Bolívar Day (Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia)