Charles Wiener

Birth: 1851


Charles Wiener (1851-1913) was an Austrian-French scientist-explorer. Born in Vienna, he is perhaps best known as the explorer who traveled extensively in Peru, climbed the Illimani and came close to re-discovering Machu Picchu. His first intellectual stirrings were in the area of linguistics, since he published a small work on this subject in 1873.

Later, he was a teacher of German in Paris. He received a doctor's degree in philosophy from the University of Rostock with a dissertation edited with the title of Essai sur les institutions politiques, religieuses, economiques et sociales de l'Empire des Incas, Paris, 1874, work for which he contacted other students of Mesoamerican antiquity.

Wiener, in his exploration, he would travel from Ollantaytambo up over the Panticalla Pass until he arrived at the Urubamba River at the bridge crossing of Chuquichaca. In a book he published in 1880, Wiener wrote of how locals in Ollantaytambo had told him about [ancient Inca towns] . . . . Wiener did . . . make a detailed map of the Urubamba Valley, on which he included two peaks and marked them with the names Matchopicchu and Huyanapicchu.

"Wiener traveled in Peru in 1875, a few years after Herman Gohring (a fellow explorer) and was told in Ollantaytambo about certain ruins, including those at "Huainan-Picchu" and "Matcho Picchu," but he was unable to reach them during his visit Consequently, Wiener's own account of his travels, published as Perou et Bolivie (Paris, 1880), contains a map, "Vallee de Santa-Ana," incorrectly placing "Huayna picchu" south of "Malcho picchu" on the east side of the Urubamba.

The map was apparently published in Paris by the Societe de Geographie in 1877, three years before the publication of Wiener's book. Also of note is that Hiram Bingham (the ultimate re-discoverer of Machu Picchu) was familiar with Wiener's book [and] when a Cuzqueno told Bingham that he had seen ruins 'finer than Choqquequirau' at a place called Huayna Picchu, Bingham thought that the report resembled Wiener's account.

Also of note is that Wiener is mentioned in Mario Vargas Llosa's novel The Storyteller as the Frenchman who in 1880 came across 'two Machiguenga corpses, ritually abandoned in the river,' which he decapitated and added to his collection of curiosities collected in the Peruvian jungle.


The Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie. Published by Simon and Schuster. p 448

The Storyteller. By Mario Vargas Llosa, Helen R. Lane. Published by Macmillan. p. 82

Books & Publications

Book Title Date
Perou et Bolivie (1880) Perou et Bolivie 1880
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