Created on: March 13, 2013 Last Updated: March 14, 2013
Machu Picchu stands proudly on a Peruvian mountain ridge, offering visitors a remarkable glimpse into the wonders of a lost civilization. Built more than 500 years ago but only revealed to the world in 1911, this famed Inca citadel attracts more than one million tourists each year, as well as scientists and archaeologists keen to unlock more of its secrets.
As Machu Picchu was apparently unknown to Spanish conquistadors, the site is relatively undisturbed, offering rare opportunities for discovery. In recent years, archaeologists have located the tomb of a high-ranking Inca official, a full burial site complete with bones and artefacts, and a cache of treasures left as an offering to the gods. According to the Cusco region’s Cultural Director, David Ugarte, “more important discoveries will be made in the future.”
This is certainly a view shared by French-born archaeologist, Thierry Jamin. After fifteen years spent exploring the Peruvian jungle to find new evidence of Inca culture – a search which yielded almost thirty fresh archaeological sites – Jamin has turned his full attention to Machu Picchu. Now, he claims that he and his team are on the verge of the most important discovery since Hiram Bingham first brought Machu Picchu to the world’s attention more than one hundred years ago.
Based on information provided by a French engineer named David Crespy, Jamin has investigated a strange blocked entranceway to what might be a treasure-filled tomb. An electromagnetic survey conducted in April 2012 confirmed the presence of several chambers and a staircase, and a process called ‘molecular frequency discrimination’ has isolated evidence of large quantities of metal, including gold and silver.
Jamin claims that this could be one of the most important and richest finds of precious metal artefacts in history, and that unearthing the tomb could completely change how people understand Machu Picchu and the whole of Inca civilization.
Unfortunately for the explorer, his enthusiasm is not shared by David Ugarte and others who seek to preserve the site’s cultural and structural integrity. They suggest that any excavation work could damage the stability of an archaeological wonder already susceptible to earthquakes, weather, and the presence of careless tourists. According to Ugarte, Jamin “seems to us to be more of an adventurer looking to find some treasure and not carry out any scientific research.” As of early 2013, the Frenchman has been denied permission by Peruvian authorities to conduct any further investigations beyond the door.
It may never be known whether Jamin is right about the treasure, as the mere existence of Machu Picchu is probably worth more to Peru – and the world – than anything which might be discovered there. But if the remarkable discoveries of the past few years are any indication, it is almost certain that Jamin, and others like him, will continue to find astonishing new information and artefacts among the ruins of this great Inca city. Machu Picchu has not revealed all its secrets yet.
Learn more about this author, Robin Lamb.
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