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