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Lost Inca Gold

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Justin Carlson

on 6 September 2012

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Transcript of Lost Inca Gold

Lost Inca Gold Backstory "A gold cup such as this may lie among the thousands of priceless items thought to make up the mythical lost Inca gold. This fabled treasure, part of an exorbitant ransom for the imprisoned Inca leader Atahualpa, was supposedly hidden in the 16th century when the Inca learned Atahualpa had already been put to death by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro." science.nationalgeographic.com The legend begins in the 16th century, when the great Inca Empire in western South America was giving way to European invaders. Atahualpa was an Inca king who, after fighting a civil war with his half-brother, Huáscar, for control of the empire, finally won but was left vunerable due to heavy loses and was soon captured at his palace in Cajamarca in modern-day Peru by Spanish commander Francisco Pizarro.

Pizarro agreed to release Atahualpa in return for a roomful of gold, but the Spaniard later reneged on the deal. He had the Inca king put to death before the last and largest part of the ransom had been delivered. Instead, the story goes, the gold was buried in a secret mountain cave. And there the legend has remained, daring others to prove it. According to legend, the treasure lies somewhere in the the Llanganates Mountain Range. Many have went on expeditions to try to locate the lost treasure Several decades after the death of Atahualpa, an impoverished Spanish adventurer named Valverde marries an Inca princess from the area. She is said to have led him to the treasure, because Valverde becomes unaccountably wealthy and returns to Spain, supposedly having removed only a small amount from the hoard.

When he lay dying Valverde writes an itinerary which has come to be know as Valverde’s Derrotero – Valverde’s Path. The document describes various Llanganates landmarks which will lead one to the treasure. On his death, Valverde bequeaths the document to King Charles V of Spain. allthingsadventure.com King Charles sends Valverde’s Derrotero to provincial authorities in Latacunga, a town near the Llanganates mountains. These officials then undertake an expedition and apparently stumble onto something extremely promising. But their leader, a Franciscan monk named Father Longo, mysteriously vanishes one night. The hunt is abandoned for the next hundred years. allthingsadventure.com In the late 1700s, a miner named Don Atanasio Guzmán, who worked the old Inca mines in the Llanganates, manages to draft a detailed treasure map. But before he can claim his prize he too disappears in the mountains. allthingsadventure.com 1860 a British botanist named Richard Spruce, while doing research in the archives at Latacunga, stumbles upon Valverde’s Derrotero, and the map drawn by Guzman. Spruce publishes this information in the Journal of Royal Geographical Society in 1860. This article, entitled Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes, rekindles the treasure fever. The accumulated weight of Guzmán’s map, Spruce’s notes, and a translation of Valverde’s Derrotero into English sets off a small stampede of English-speaking explorers. allthingsadventure.com In 1886, working with Spruce, a pair of treasure hunters from Nova Scotia reportedly solve the riddle of Valverde’s Derrotero and find the treasure. Their names are Captain Barth Blake and Lieutenant George Edwin Chapman. allthingsadventure.com Blake makes maps of the region and sends letters to a friends. In one of the letters Blake writes… "It is impossible for me to describe the wealth that now lays in that cave marked on my map, but I could not remove it alone, nor could thousands of men….There are thousands of gold and silver pieces of Inca and pre-Inca handicraft, the most beautiful goldsmith works you are not able to imagine, life-size human figures made out of beaten gold and silver, birds, animals, cornstalks, gold and silver flowers. Pots full of the most incredible jewelry. Golden vases full of emeralds." So why didn't they claim the Treasure!?!?! Because Chapman didn’t survive the journey out of the mountains and Blake fell overboard on a trip to North America to sell the gold they’d taken from the cave!! Bummer! Many others have tried to find the lost treasure but have either failed or died in doing so. One man who says he was successful in finding the location and lived to tell about it is Mark Honigsbaum. He recorded it in his book Valverde's Gold (2004) The author teamed up with two adventurers who each claimed to have independently discovered an Inca gold mining site such as Valverde described: "There is a lake, made by hand, into which the ancients threw the gold they had prepared for the ransom of the Inca [Atahualpa] when they heard of his death."

"The legend essentially is that the Inca took the gold out of the Llanganates and then returned it to where they had taken it from," Honigsbaum said. But he never found the site, which seemingly had been lost as a result of the earthquakes that regularly rock the densely forested mountains.

"We're dealing with the frontier land between fact and fiction," Honigsbaum admitted. "We know Atahualpa's gold existed because it's recorded in the Spanish chronicle, and it's recorded that a large convoy of gold was on its way from Ecuador. After that, the best and most persistent stories revolve around the Llanganates."

"My own feeling, though, is that this gold was probably taken out centuries ago," he said. "If not, and it's still there, I think it's lost forever, because those mountains are so vast and inaccessible that you're looking for a needle in a haystack." nationalgeographic.com Archaeologist Johan Reinhard, an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, has an explanation for why numerous expeditions in search of the gold mine and artificial lake mentioned by Valverde have failed.

"Most have followed Guzman's map that does indeed lead to some mines located on the northern end of the Llanganate range, but not to the area as can be ascertained from Valverde's description," Reinhard explained.

It's an open question whether Valverde ever existed, Reinhard added, but he says his directions do make sense against modern maps of the region.

While Reinhard doesn't believe Atahualpa's gold will ever be found, he says there's still a good chance of discovering Inca sites such as those referred to in the Derrotero. "Thus," he said, "a serious archaeological expedition would likely add significantly to our knowledge of the Inca presence in the region."

nationalgeographic.com So is it Fact or Fable? Facts:
The gold is real
King Atahualpa and the story are real
People have claimed to have seen it
The last shipment of gold never reached Pizzaro
There are treasure maps of the area Fable:
Most of the people that claim to have seen it are dead
Not even sure if Valverde existed
Nobody has found it and lived to tell about it You decide! Sources:
http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/lost-inca-gold/

http://www.allthingsadventure.com/inca-gold/

www.wikipedia.org

Honigsbaum, Mark. Valverde's Gold. 2004. Print.
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