Perus last Inca city reveals its secrets: Its genuinely a marvel

Espritu Pampa, forgotten for centuries, was cleared, and the latest findings, a planned site museum and fieldwork are bringing attention to the last stronghold of the Incas


Jorge Cobos follows the remnants of an Inca road down the eastern slopes of Perus Andes, through cloud forest and over swaying plank bridges, edging along narrow paths beside sheer drops.

Finally, after a four-day trek, he clears a patch of undergrowth with his machete, revealing a moss-covered wall. Thick roots are entwined around fallen lintels. Elsewhere, the stonework is still daubed with orange plaster.

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Imagine there are lots of buildings left to discover in the forest, he said. And beyond, in the mountains: who knows?

The sprawling ruins are, scholars agree, the last capital of Vilcabamba: a holdout Inca state that resisted for decades after the conquistadors landed in Peru in 1532, executed the emperor Atahualpa, and occupied the Inca capital of Cusco.

Forgotten for centuries, the city of Espritu Pampa also known as Old Vilcabamba has only been cleared in recent decades.

And the latest findings, a new site museum and fieldwork both scheduled for 2019 along with the pending completion of a road through Vilcabamba are bringing attention to the last stronghold of the Incas once more.


Architect and explorer Vincent Lee first mapped out Espritu Pampa in detail in the 1980s, when the region was under the control of brutal Shining Path guerrillas.

It was a step back into the 19th century just to go there and a potentially dangerous one, he said.

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The jungle was so thick one could hardly see one building from the next, Lee added.

Today, three government workers use machetes to keep the foliage at bay from a palace compound, the remains of a huge hall with 26 doorways, and a labyrinth of rooms, streets and stairways.

The area is fascinating because it still hasnt been disturbed or looted. The information is firsthand, said Javier Fonseca, an archaeologist with Perus ministry of culture.

Its the last capital of Inca resistance, he added. It has history, it has archaeology, it has everything. Its genuinely a marvel to work in this place.

Four successive Incas ruled in Vilcabamba, venerating the sun, engaging in diplomacy and guerrilla warfare with the Spanish and inspiring rebellions beyond their mountain refuge.

Facing an overwhelming invasion in 1572, the Incas set the city ablaze and fled into the forest. The Spanish captured Perus last indigenous monarch Tpac Amaru I and executed him in Cusco, bringing the Inca empire to an end. Espritu Pampa was swallowed up by the jungle.

The Inca shrine of Yuraq Rumi (the White Rock) in Vilcabamba. Photograph: Laurie Blair

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Yet recent research points to a far older origin for the site and to a web of connections linking Vilcabamba with its European and indigenous neighbours.

Archaeologists Brian Bauer and Miriam Araoz have documented metal nails, roof tiles and pairs of scissors. Their excavations have shed further light on Yuraq Rumi a monumental rock expertly carved with steps, shelves and bulges, centrepiece of an Inca shrine near Vitcos.

In one sector of Espirit Pampa dominated by towering matapalo trees that grip the ruins Fonseca pieced together a unique ceramic vessel depicting Andean and Amazonian peoples, backed up by jaguars, united in battling the mounted conquistadors.

Perhaps the most intriguing discoveries at Espritu Pampa concern the Wari a predecessor culture to the Inca that ruled swaths of Peru between 600 and 1100AD.

In 2010, Fonseca identified a sumptuous Wari burial complex near the main site. One occupant dubbed the Lord of Wari was found with a silver mask, breastplate, axe blades and ornaments, golden bracelets and dozens of finely crafted vessels.

And late in 2017, Fonseca identified a Wari temple nearby, containing both Inca and Wari gold and silverwork.

This society doesnt disappear overnight. Part of the Wari inheritance survives, thanks to the Incas, he argued.

These cross-cultural finds are currently divided between minor exhibits and storage units, Fonseca lamented, but there are plans to build a museum in Vilcabamba in 2019.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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