Sunday, December 22, 2013

What is the basis for the claim that the tomb of Atahualpa has been found in Ecuador?

A history resource article by  © 2013


Mixed media sculpture of Altahualpa by artist-historian
George S. Stuart
.  Photographed at the Ojai Valley Museum
in Ojai, California
by  © 2006 The last couple of days there has been several news postings about the possible discovery of the tomb of Atahualpa, last independent Inca ruler, in the highlands of Ecuador.  Unfortunately, after reading the articles I found the claim was not particularly substantiated by more than just a statement by a group of researchers that a formation 260 feet tall by 260 feet wide has been discovered  in the Llanganates National Park in Ecuador and "might" somehow be the tomb of Atahualpa.  Of course the article also says the researchers admit the "structure" may just be an unusual rock formation.

After looking at the images, I do think the formation looks man-made but how they connected this find with Atahualpa is a mystery to me.

The article points to "artifacts" that have been recovered but there was no explanation about their purpose, how they were determined to be Incan or any attempt at dating them.  Looking at the pictures of the "artifacts" included with the article,they appear to be extremely primitive in nature - more neolithic looking than pre-Columbian.

Stone formation found in in the Llanganates National Park
in Ecuador proposed to be Atahualpa's lost tomb.
 Image
courtesy of . 
I'm also wondering what sources they are using that may have claimed Atahualpa's body was stolen by his followers and whisked off to the highlands of Ecuador.  According to Spanish sources, Atahualpa's body was partially burned then interred in a "Christian" burial after he was strangled by a garrote following a mock trial at Cajamarca in the Peruvian highlands in 1533.  Of course I must admit Atahualpa is thought to have been born in what is now present day Quito, Ecuador so it is at least plausible that remaining clan members may have sought to return his body to the region of his birth.

If the structure is a tomb, it is of such monumental size that you would think it would have had to have been built before the Spanish conquest then repurposed as I doubt the activity needed to quarry and transport the stone then build a structure of the size reported would have gone unnoticed by the Spanish.  Perhaps it was the tomb of Atahualpa's father, Huayna Capac, who engaged in a number of monumental building projects before he contracted smallpox and died in the epidemic of 1527.  Maybe it is one of Huayna Capac's food storage silos that he purportedly built around his empire.  I've got to admit, as someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest who has frequently visited Idaho, the structure sort of resembles a big potato cellar!

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