“Unlocking the vaults of history: Embark on a quest to unearth the mesmerizing Lost Treasures of the Inca

March 29, 2024

In 1532 Francisco Pizarro founded the town of San Miguel de Piura and began the conquest of the Inca Empire. Later in the same year, he captured the Inca king Atahualpa atCajamarca. Atahualpa, seeing that the Spaniards cherished gold above all, promised to fill aroom with gold and another equally large with silver in exchange for his freedom. Pizarro agreed to do this, although he likely had no intention to ever let Atahualpa leave. Before the room could be filled with gold, Pizarro’s distrust of Atahualpa, and his influence over the many remaining Inca warriors, caused him to have the Inca garroted on July 26, 1533.
The legend holds that the Inca general Rumiñahui was on his way to Cajamarca with an enormous amount of worked gold for the ransom when he learned that Atahualpa had been murdered. Accounts of the amount of gold involved varies in different versions of the legend, but all agree that on the news of Atahualpa’s death, he sent the porters East to areas that are to the present day uninhabited and later returned to Quito and hauled more treasures, including tiles of the temple of the Sun and possessions of the ñustas (temple dancers). The treasure is assumed to had been hidden in a cave, or dumped into a lake. Rumiñahui continued fighting against the Spanish, and though he was eventually captured and tortured, he never revealed the location of the treasure.
Picture caption – 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.
Steeped in death, conquest, desire, and mystery, the legend of the lost Inca gold is guarded by remote, mist-veiled mountains in central Ecuador. Somewhere deep inside the unforgiving Llanganates mountain range between the Andes and the Amazon is said to exist a fabulous Inca hoard hidden from Spanish conquistadors.
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 warring with his half-brother, Huáscar, for control of the empire, was 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.
The shadowy guide of those who have tried is Valverde, a Spaniard who some 50 years after Atahualpa’s death is said to have become rich after being led to the gold by his Indian bride’s family. When he died, he left written directions to its location, the so-called Derrotero de Valverde.
The gold trail went cold until the 1850s, when English botanist Richard Spruce traveled to Ecuador in search of the cinchona tree, the seeds of which were used to produce the antimalarial drug quinine. Spruce, when he finally returned to Britain, reported that he had uncovered Valverde’s guide and a related map, made by a man named Atanasio Guzman.
Source: National Geopgraphic