It has been searched for centuries, but it remained an impossible mystery to reach. Now, an expert has pointed out a deposit that could be the place where the remains of Atahualpa rest, the tomb of the last Inca emperor. “It is a very important discovery for the history of archeology in Ecuador and the Andes area.”, Says the Minister of Heritage María Fernanda Espinosa speaking about the ruins found by the Ecuadorian historian Tamara estupinan.
The Inca empire, which took place between the years 1,400 and 1,500, had a great expansion through the Andes region in South America, of approximately 1,600 kilometers, from the modern Bolivia and Peru to Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia. This included dozens of ethnic groups with different languages, cities, temples, cultivation terraces and fortresses.
Atahualpa was the last of his dynasty. During the Spanish conquest he was taken as a captive in what is now known as Cajamarca, Peru. He was pressured to convert to Christianity, and then the Spaniards executed him by strangulation. After his death in 1533, the empire began to crumble.
This year, the Institute of Cultural Heritage The state of Ecuador will begin work on the promising archaeological site and Estupinan will be at the forefront and try to raise the curtain on the huge complex that stretches over a hill at 1,020 meters.
It was in June 2010 when Estupinan, now a researcher with the French Institute of Andean Studies (IFEA), found what she describes as "an Inca archaeological siteHigh on the eastern flank of the Andes amid steep canyons. Nearby is a small local farm and a facility for raising fighting cocks.
But in the area called Sigchos, about 45 miles south of Quito, on top of a grassy hill, there is more, much more: he found a complex of walls, aqueducts and works of stone found inside the rural refuge of Machay. Machay means burial in the Quechua language.
“It is a rectangular Inca monument with a late imperial design that leads to several rooms that were built with cut and polished stone around a trapezoidal plaza.”Estupinan explained to AFP.
The archaeologist Tamara bray, of the Wayne State University in Michigan and a colleague from Estupinan, confirmed that the site has "an Inca building preserved in excellent condition and of great scientific importance."
Inside the facility, a walled hallway begins at the Machay river and one can see the shape of an "ushno", essentially the stairs that form a pyramid that is thought to be the (capac) emperor's throne. Meanwhile, a small channel of water releases jets from a small breed, which is nicknamed "the Inca bath."
The director of the Lima headquarters of IFEA, Georges Lomne, says that the discovery seems to confirm that the Incas were active and present in the lowland area in an area better known as the Andean Altiplano. "Malqui-Machay is part of a larger complex that would also include Lake Quilotoa and the area called Pujili (Cotopaxi)", Explain.
“All of this belonged to Atahualpa. It was his personal fiefdom like other kings like the French had royal domains", Add Lomne.
Bray also highlights that “several Inca sites of this type have been found in the lowlands of the tropics. I think the Incas used it as a kind of getaway”.
Estupinan has some more specific ideas. She believes that Malqui-Machay is the place where Atahualpa finally rests. The tomb of the last capac (emperor) of Tahuantinsuyo, the Transandine empire.
While many experts have other theories, Estupinan believes that when Atahualpa was assassinated, his remains could be brought by his most loyal man, Ruminahui, to Sigchos to bury them, a site where Ruminahui based his fight for survival against the European invaders.
Image Atahualpa: Public domain
Graduated in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was little I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.