Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles ( intro music ) ( Peruvian flute ) Hiebert: National Geographic's relationship with photography and Peru are all intertwined. All of Peru, unbelievable country of mysteries and surprises. This is definitely one of the centers of civilization. It's really incredible to be able to look into the eyes of an ancient ruler. This is the power of archaeology. ( applause ) Hiebert: Thank you all for being here. I want to talk to you a little bit about being a representative of National Geographic and working in these great civilizations and I like to bring storytelling to these and I like to tell stories about heroes. National Geographic's relationship with photography and Peru are all intertwined. I want to tell you that little story. I actually want to start by telling you a little bit about Peru. It's extraordinarily photogenic. This is a photograph by Hiram Bingham who documented the high mountains of Peru. This is really what makes Peru one of the great centers of civilization, is its geography. The high mountains, the beautiful rich valleys between the mountains and the coast. The coastal deserts which were once described in the pages of National Geographic as being small Nile Deltas. And in fact unlike Egypt that has 1 Nile River, northern Peru has 20 of these deltas. It's unbelievable you can have 1 foot in the fertile delta and 1 foot in the desert. This makes it an extraordinary place for preservation and creation of ancient civilization. It's a place where archaeological sites tower above the countryside. This particular mound that you see in the front is actually a Peruvian pyramid. Here's an example of what one could imagine that looked like in the past. There are 20 such river valleys in northern Peru. It's an outstanding, unbelievable relationship and much of it has to do with the fact that it is one of the largest, most productive coasts along the pacific coast of the New World. Its unbelievable culture, unbelievable country and it's that geographic relationship that we like to explain, helps explain how Peru is a country that can both be described as having over 10,000 archaeological sites or as I like to say, "There's only 1 site in Peru, all of Peru." It is really, you walk the Inca Trail and you really can't tell when you're on a site and off a site. The entire country from the north coast to the south coast, from east to west, It's unbelievable country of mysteries and surprises. Now I'm actually going to start telling this story a little bit before the founding of National Geographic because so many travelers and adventurers have been attracted to Peru. It's sort of mysterious and wonderful. It's been attracting people for hundreds of years. Its history goes back more than 3,000 years. It has separate cultural traditions on the north coast, the highlands, and the south coast. It's really phenomenal. I have to take my hat off to yet another set of incredible heroes. Julio Tello, the father of Peruvian archaeologists. He was from the highlands. He really introduced the idea of Andean civilization. He began to study the cultures of ancient Peru. He's one of the 1st researchers to come up with that chronology. He had a partner, Rafael Larco. These 2 guys, they kind of fought over where the heart and soul of Peru lay. You had Tello, who was from the highlands, who argued for temples and islands and you had Larco, who came from the coast he said, "Not, it is coast cultures" and that debate continues to this day. We all were fascinated by the mystery and culture and we all thought that this site which Tello worked at, that Larco worked at, the famous temple of Chavín de Huántar. It was really the heart, the essence of Andean civilization. It was so important and it was so mysterious and so luxurious that it actually became my introduction to archeology and my introduction to South America. I had the chance to visit-- ( laughter ) Well, okay, it wasn't last year. All right so, you're looking at this statue, you see this statue, right? It's carved and beautiful 3,500 years old. Oh, yeah, I was a hippie. Once, a little while ago. But that's Chavín de Huántar. What an introduction to South America. What an introduction to Peru, to go visit a place. What a way to get inaugurated into the wonders of archaeology. It's great and I became intrigued with the history of all this exploration and who went and where. We all sort of looked even further back into the pages, "Who was exploring?" "Who was caught with this mystery of wonder of the archaeology and culture?" I became enamored with this particular fellow, Ephraim Squier. He was a wonderful explorer for the U.S. government. He was sent as the commissioner to Peru by none other than Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s. This is how far the history goes back in this and the wonderful storytelling. As commissioner, he wrote this incredible book called, "The Land of the Incas," illustrated with 500 woodcuts. Really, I mean, it was the artistry, the magnificence, the wonder of this country that attracted people. These woodcuts were known and reproduced. This was a very popular book published in the 1877. People were so desirous. I became fascinated because there was this photograph of Ephraim Squier and being here at National Geographic we're, naturally, very interested in photographs. But you know, Squier, he made these incredible illustrations that are woodcuts in his book and we assumed that he must have had a photographic memory. Look at this bridge, unbelievable. You had to go to Peru to imagine that something like that was real. It was so exciting for me to see, in a woodcut like this of Alto Peru which is today on the other side of Lake Titicaca but still part of this greater Peruvian... I became quite curious, being here at National Geographic, "How did somebody record something like this?" It was only recently and I was so excited to be able to find the photo archives that were the basis for the 500 woodcuts. It shows the relationship between photography and archaeology. We have one of the great photographers of National Geographic, Kenny Garrett, who's here, who can attest to the fact that photographing in Peru is like photographing a wonderland. It was amazing to see how beautifully reproduced the photographs. Here's one of the woodcuts from 1877. Here's one of the newly discovered photographs that Squier took. He was not only an explorer, he himself was a photographer. I became intrigued with this aspect, this relationship between photography and archaeology. I think it's critical to our understanding of the past. Not only in Peru and Central America, in Egypt and Greece, it's so exciting. I became attracted to another one of the greatest photographers who ever crossed into Peru, Hiram Bingham. Yes, Hiram Bingham is known primarily for describing Machu Picchu, but do people realize that he was an incredible photographer? At that time, 1911 and 1912, being director of an expedition meant that you were also the photographer. He had this incredible camera created by Kodak for him and he took these pictures that were not just documentation but were art themselves. They were the 1st rock star archaeology project in National Geographic. His photographs really are incredible. We have about 2,000 of these photographs here in the photo archives and some day we're going to do an exhibition of the photo archives here. It's just an incredible opportunity to work with people like Bill Bonner, here in the photo archives and see exactly what the genius of photography is. If you look at this picture taken by Bingham of Machu Picchu with the mountains and the cloud and the local personality on the right hand. It is such a story, such a photographic essay in 1 picture. It's really very, very inspirational. He also documented the people of Peru. For me, this is the real gift that Hiram Bingham gave to Peru, which is a wonderful photo record of Peru and ancient Peru and the people of Peru all living together. What an inspiration for cultural heritage. This isn't the only time that we've photographed Peru and ancient Peru. We've been at the forefront and if we fast forward to really one of the 1st color photos of an archaeological picture published in National Geographic magazine, it, of course, came from Peru. This is William Duncan Strong who in 1946 came to Peru and after seeing all these wonderful artifacts, came in hopes of finding the 1st intact Moche burial. Moche is a northern coast period in Peru about 2,000 years old, very mysterious, only known from the artifacts and his intention was to come and document an intact burial, almost an impossible feat. But, they found one on the coast and to quote from the 1947 issue of the magazine, Strong and Evans found this burial and everybody was so excited. They'd never seen an intact burial from 2,000 years ago. So, they opened it up and Evans said, "I'm hungry, let's have lunch." ( laughter ) I tell you, I love reading past National Geographics. It's really great. So, all of his workmen were sitting there confused because they just found something that had never been found before. The next picture which was published in the pages of National Geographic, is the 1st time you are looking inside of an intact Moche burial. I think that this is something that National Geographic has taken on as a cachet in terms of telling the stories of the ancient populations. This is a unique picture, "12 pots that have never been seen together in situ." This documentation went around the world in April 1947. These 2 people, Strong and Evans, became a hero of mine as we pursued this past.