Saturday, March 30, 2013

Is There a Hidden Treasure Trove at Machu Picchu?

Since its discovery by the legendary Hiram Bingham more than 100 years ago, the mountaintop city called Machu Picchu has yielded invaluable insights into the lives of its Inca builders. Now one researcher believes there is a great treasure trove of gold and silver hidden behind an intentionally blocked entranceway.

Machu Picchu somehow escaped discovery by marauding Spanish conquistadors. Following its discovery by Bingham in 1911, archaeologists and historians have swarmed over the site. Among their major finds are a rich burial site, an equally rich tomb thought to be that of a high-ranking official, and a cache of gold and silver objects believed to be an offering to the Inca gods. And the search is far from over.

French-born archaeologist Thierry Jamin believes he has located a rich tomb hidden behind a blocked entranceway.  He claims that an electromagnetic survey completed in 2012 yielded evidence of several chambers and a staircase. He also believes, based on a survey using “molecular frequency discrimination,” that there is an extensive deposit of gold and silver in the “tomb.”

Thierry has some impressive credentials. He spent fifteen years in the Peruvian jungle and discovered nearly thirty archaeological sites. But so far he has been denied permission to excavate his discovery. David Ugarte, the man in charge of the site, believes that Jamin is a treasure hunter more interested in fame than in unlocking Machu Picchu’s secrets. Ugarte and other scientists also believe that excavations at Thierry’s site might affect the stability of the city itself.

Is Thierry right about the treasure vault? No one will no anytime soon. One thing is certain, however. There are still many secrets to be discovered at Machu Picchu. In the meantime, more than a million people visit this unique and beautiful city every year. It is possible that some of them may be literally walking over some of those secrets.

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