When the last Inca emperor Atahualpa was held captive by Francisco Pizarro and his men, he offered his captors a room filled with treasure should they release him unharmed. The Spaniards ultimately executed Atahualpa and never received the ransom.
However, legend holds that Inca general Rumiñawi had already begun travelling towards Atahualpa’s prison in Cajamarca with a huge cargo of golden treasures when he was told of his emperor’s death. It is said that he ordered the treasure be hidden or thrown off a cliff to prevent it from falling into the hands of the conquistadors, and fortune hunters and archaeologists have been searching for the lost treasure ever since. Now, some explorers in Ecuador believe they may be close to finding it.
According to the Daily Telegraph, an international team of investigators working in Ecuador’s Llanganates National Park are investigating a site which local legend has long held to be the final resting place of the last Inca, Atahualpa. And some are hoping that the treasure hidden by Rumiñawi might be buried with the emperor.
However, the Daily Telegraph rightfully points out that investigations at the site are at a very early stage and a number of viable theories are being considered at this point, pending further investigation.
Investigators have discovered a large structure at the site that measures 260 feet tall by 260 feet wide as well as a number of artifacts, including tools.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the relatively large-scale nature of the site as well as the discovery of what look like oversized tools has led some enthusiasts to call the site “The Lost City of the Giants.”
Archaeologist Benoit Duverneuil has a somewhat more tempered approach to the possibilities that await investigators. Duverneuil says that This could be one of the biggest archaeological discoveries ever,’ adding It would be huge. We just don’t have structures of this type and size in this part of the world. But we are some way from declaring that yet.”
The archaeologist described the newly-discovered structure, saying It looks like a paved wall, an ancient street or plaza with a 60 degrees angle, perhaps the roof of a larger structure. Many of the stones were perfectly aligned, have sharp edges and seemed to have been sculpted by human hands. But there is still a chance that this could be a very unusual natural rock formation.
Others believe that the site pre-dates Atahualpa by 2,000 years, using the presence of basic tools as evidence for an approximate date of 500 BC.
The Daily Telegraph reports that researchers believe that human sacrifices may have taken place on the sloped surface, which could have been built at an angle in order to allow victims’ heads to roll away from their bodies when their necks were severed.
Reports indicate that the Ecuadorean government has been notified of the site’s existence and an official expedition is expected to take place in the near future. An expedition in Ecuador could soon unearth one of history’s most storied treasures.