Ancient Peruvian site forces experts to re-think past
Sunday 27 February 2011
Archeologists have discovered a group of ancient tombs in the mountainous jungle of southeastern Peru they say is as important as the discovery of the lost city of Machu Picchu.
The tombs belonging to the Wari culture were found on the jungle-covered eastern slope of the Andes in Cuzco department at a long-abandoned city thought to be the last redoubt of Inca resistance to Spanish colonial rule.
The Waris, a pre-Inca civilization, had an enormous cultural impact in the Andean region between 600 and 1200. The Inca empire (around 1400 to 1532) was the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas.
"It is an impressive Wari find in the Cuzco jungle that opens a new chapter on archaeological research and forces us to re-write history," said Juan Garcia, the cultural director for the Cuzco region, as he announced the discovery late Wednesday.
"The discovery is one of the most important ever, and is comparable to Machu Picchu... and the Lord of Sipan," said Garcia, referring to the 1987 discovery of the tomb of an ancient Moche lord.
Archaeologists found a y-shaped silver chest plate, a silver mask, two golden bracelets with feline figures and two wooden walking sticks laminated with silver in the tomb of a high-ranking personality dubbed the Lord of Wari.
The tombs are within the archaeological complex of Espiritu Pampa, in the Cuzco district of Vilcabamba, some 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) south-east of Lima.
Vilcabamba was the last refuge of Inca resistance after Spanish conquistadors captured and executed the Inca emperor in 1532. The last resistance leader, Tupac Amaru I, was captured by the Spaniards after fleeing the site and executed in 1572.
It is a "spectacular, truly surprising" discovery, said archaeologist Luis Lumbreras, former director of the National Cultural Institute (INC).
"This will make us revise part of Inca history."
It is the first proof of Wari presence in the jungle, and proof that the Waris were in the area much earlier than the Incas, Lumbreras said.
Archaeologists first found the funeral complex in July 2010, and studied it for the next months.
Lumbreras said he would not be surprised that archaeologists now uncover a Wari city in the area "that may have something to do with legends like that of Paititi."
For centuries, explorers have fruitlessly searched for Paititi, a fabled lost city in the Amazon jungle said to be filled with gold and jewels.
The pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas left no written record of their history, so it is largely up to archaeologists to describe history before the European contact.
In places like Peru, ancient sites have been well preserved in the dry coastal region and in the Andes, but bones and textiles rarely survive the wet and humid conditions of the jungle.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
The 50 Best spas
Luton airport voted worst in Britain for second time running
Mystery as 'lake' appears in middle of Tunisian desert and becomes overnight tourist attraction
August Bank Holiday 2014: Five ways to make the most of it
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
£6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...
£17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...
£23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...