Skip to comments.Explorer: Legendary El Dorado Pinpointed
Posted on 08/12/2002 4:27:35 PM PDT by vannrox
By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Called Paititi by the Incas and El Dorado by the Spaniards, the mythical city is thought to have been the last place of refuge for the Incas when they fled with their treasures ahead of the advancing Spanish conquerors in 1532.
According to Jacek Palkiewicz, best known for discovering the real source of the Amazon river in 1996, Paititi should lie 105 kilometers (65 miles) northeast of Cuzco the ancient capital of the Inca empire in the unexplored Madre de Dios River basin. "We are just a step away from the city. We have pinpointed a 1.5-square- mile plateau with a lake and pre-Incan stone buildings totally covered in vegetation. Terrestrial radar confirmed the existence of an underwater labyrinth of caverns and tunnels. An ideal place to hide the Inca treasure the conquerors didn't succeed in finding," Palkiewicz told Discovery News.
The place would coincide both with legend and ancient documents. While stories of a waterfall and a square lake leading to Paititi abound, a 17th- century document states that the city is "further the lands and the mountains, ten days towards the east of Cuzco."
Moreover, a 16th-century manuscript, recently discovered in the Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus, describes the Kingdom of Paititi as "a very wealthy city adorned with gold, silver and precious stones."
According to the document, the city was discovered and evangelized at the end of the 16th century by Jesuit missionaries. Palkiewicz believes the Vatican never revealed Paititi's location, fearing a gold rush and mass hysteria.
El Dorado has lured many explorer over the past five centuries: among them famed British army surveyor Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, who left in search of Paititi in 1925; and more recently, a 1972 Franco-American expedition led by Bob Nichols; and the 1997 exploration of Norwegian anthropologist Lars Hafksjold. They all vanished in the jungles.
The latest explorer to set off in search of the legend, Palkiewicz will begin a final, systematic search in October. With a budget of more than $1 million, the expedition will include scientists specializing in the study of caves and the help of state-of-the art technology.
"I'm pretty sure we will come back with extraordinary news," he said.
But other experts are skeptical.
"The whole idea that the Incas fled Cuzco for the jungles, bearing these treasures en masse, has no real evidence behind it. The climate and the constant threat of very real diseases that the highlander Incas had no defense against ... rule out that hypothesis. And the idea of a city under a lake, although quite romantic, seems quite unlikely," Boston anthropologist Gregory Deyermenjian, who has conducted various searches for Paititi since 1984, told Discovery News.
Another positive would be that she might turn up missing like some of the previous explorers. But I don't think she would go just for money and some more fame. Maybe if we started a rumor that the jungles were inhabited by a tribe of wild lesbians?
Yup, thanks. I think I have an addition if I can locate it.
They don't call it the Amazon for nothing . . .
OK... Ill accept that...
I hope he fails.
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