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Inca Treasures

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Legends, Myths, False Beliefs and the Hunt for Hidden Treasures


Inca art is wonderful. Beautiful statuettes and other artifacts have been found through Peru and many of these items can be wondered in museums across the planet.

In fact, some of the most beautiful pieces of Incan art are actually located in the great museums in the USA and Europe.


There are several stories, myths that talk about hidden gold and "lost Inca treasures", even hidden Inca cities that are full of gold, silver and precious stones.

Though, most of these stories are pure fiction, products of the modern media. The remainder might have some basis, though, and, we are taking a look at them on this page.


Treasure hunters have been looking for hidden Inca gold and lost Inca cities for centuries... If anyone had found something, he must have remained silent and certainly would have had great difficulty in making the treasure usable in modern life


Today, even if someone found an Inca artifact, he would be prosecuted by the Peruvian authorities. It is illegal to remove anything with archaeological value from Peru.

Despite this, objects are being smuggled out of the country from time to time...




Motives to Believe that Inca Treasures Exist


The Spaniards were the first to have obtained gold and other precious metals, stones. But in their case, directly from the Incas through brute force...

Since then, about 5 centuries have passed and we know, and Pizarro knew, that the Incas had all the reasons to hide their treasures from the invading Spaniards. Theoretically, "there could be something out there". But nobody knows where. Or, if someone knows something, then he wouldn't tell anyone.


Peru had many gold and silver mines... some of them are still in function today - proof that there was and there still is a large quantity of precious metals in the country


During the second part of the 20th century and even now, in the 1st half of the 21st century, there are groups of explorers who actually hunt, search for Inca gold. Some of them are organized groups of several dozens of people and they even have helicopters in their service. Some of these expeditions cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.


Today approximately 5.000 Inca artifacts, property of Yale University that are the subject of conflict between the respective institution and the Peruvian authorities.

These objects were found by Hiram Bingham in Machu Picchu and several other locations.

The Peruvian Government had sued Yale in 2005 for the fact that it hadn't returned the artifacts to Peru. Although, these are rather archaeologically, artistically and historically important items, they are mostly made of bronze, stone, ceramics, obsidian, not gold or silver.


The Incas were renowned for producing large numbers of silver and gold objects, even real size gold replicas of maize and other plants. Some items were found in Cuzco.


Some Inca artifacts found in the past were solid gold or silver, decorated with precious stones (for instance, emeralds). The value of some of these objects cannot be easily calculated, but it is highly probable that some larger items are worth millions of US dollars.


The El Dorado legend and the Paititi myth both refer to gold hidden in South America. The first story is a Muisca legend and refers to a location in Colombia, while the Paititi myth is about a hidden (secret) Inca city. Both stories have fueled enthusiastic explorers to search for Inca treasures.




Lost Cities, Hidden Treasures?


Stories, myths, even films have been made about lost cities where tremendous amounts of riches have been deposited.

Generally, the "lost city" or "secret city" is located somewhere behind dense vegetation and is either populated or has been abandoned by the local population.

For Indiana Jones-type films, romantic stories it might sound nice, but the reality is never as appealing as imagination.


The so-called "Lost City of the Incas" is not always the same city in these stories... sometimes archaeologists refer to a long lost city as of a "lost city", other times stories present mythological or made-up cities, calling them the same way.


The El Dorado myth is about a person, rather than a place and is relevant to Colombia, not Peru. Has nothing to do with the Incas, it is a Muisca legend.

The Paititi myth is closer to what we are talking about here: it clearly, explicitly talks about hidden Inca treasure in a city behind high mountains, surrounded by waterfalls.


If there are treasures, then they might be hidden somewhere where there used to be an Incan settlement. Though, we believe that because the Spaniards have raided the settlements, the Incas could have thought about hiding their valuables somewhere where nobody would bother looking for them... Like somewhere in a mountain side, a jungle or a desert...


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