An international team of archaeologists found the Inca offering in the waters of Lake Titicaca, undisturbed for 500 years.
National Geographic highlights the discovery as published in the August 2020 issue of the academic journal, Antiquity. While surveying the waters of Lake Titicaca, the archaeologists found a container made out of volcanic stone (andesite) lying 18 feet below the surface.
Featuring a hollow round opening, covered by a stone plug, the box was discovered covered in sediment, proving it was untouched since it was deposited in the lake. The box measures 10 inches by 6.5 inches.
Inside, the archaeologists found a tiny sheet of gold rolled into a cylinder and a miniature llama made out of Spondylus, a rare and valuable oyster shell. According to the archaeologists, the gold cylinder could be a miniature version of the bracelets used by Inca noblemen, called chipana. For the Incas, the llama was a sacred animal sacrificed in important ceremonies (like Inti Raymi), and was used for carrying heavy loads.
A possible intention for the offering, according to the scientists, could be that it was a fertility plea for llamas and/or abundant harvests.
Sacred waters: Lake Titicaca
Spanish conquistadors and explorers throughout the centuries have been drawn to Lake Titicaca for the alleged bounty of Inca treasures buried underneath. Scientific expeditions have recovered more than two dozen stone boxes from the lake, according to National Geographic, but only four were preserved with their contents.
The Inca conquered the Lake Titicaca region which was occupied by the Tiwanaku culture between 200 B.C.-A.D. 1000. The lake was a sacred landscape for the Tiwanaku, and their beliefs were adopted by the Incas.
Source: National Geographic
Cover photo: T. Seguin / Université libre de Bruxelles via Smithsonianmag.com
Now that you're here:
We're asking you, our reader, to make a contribution in support of our digital guide in order to keep informing, updating and inspiring people to visit Peru. Why now? In our near 20-year journey as the leading English-language source on travel in Peru, we've had our fair share of ups and downs-but nothing quite like the challenges brought forth in the first quarter of 2020.
By adapting to the changing face of the tourism and travel industry (on both local and international levels), we have no doubt we will come out stronger-especially with the support of our community. Because you will travel again, and we will be ready to show you the best of Peru.
Your financial support means we can keep sharing the best of Peru through high-quality stories, videos and insights provided by our dedicated team of contributors and editors based in Peru. And of course, We are here to answer your questions and help whenever you need us.
As well, it makes possible our commitment to support local and small businesses that make your visit an unforgettable one. Your support will help the people working in these industries get back on their feet once the world allows us to make our dream of enjoying everything Peru has to offer a reality again-from its mouthwatering gastronomy, thriving Amazon and archaeological wonders such as Machu Picchu.
Together, we will find a way through this. As a member of our community, your contribution, however big or small, is valuable.