Explorers Find Ancient City in Remote Peru Jungle
By Marco Aquino
LIMA, Peru: An ancient walled city complex inhabited some 1,300 years ago by a culture later conquered by the Incas has been discovered deep in Peru's Amazon jungle, explorers said on Tuesday.
U.S. and Peruvian explorers uncovered the city, which may have been home to up to 10,000 people, after a month trekking in Peru's northern rain forest and following up on years of investigation about a possible lost metropolis in the region.
The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.
It is a tremendous city ... containing areas with stone etchings and 10-meter (33-foot) high walls, said Savoy, who had to hack through trees and thick foliage to finally reach the site on Aug. 15.
Covered in matted tree branches and interspersed with lakes and waterfalls, the settlement sites also contain well-preserved graveyards with mummies with teeth "in almost perfect condition," Savoy said.
Replete with stone agricultural terraces and water canals, the city complex is thought to have been home to the little-known Chachapoyas culture.
According to early accounts by Spanish conquistadors who arrived in Peru in the early 1500s, the Chachapoyas were a fair-skinned warrior tribe famous for their tall stature. Today they are known for the giant burial coffins sculpted into human figures found in the northern jungle region.
Savoy said his team also found an Inca settlement within the city complex that could prove theories the Chachapoyas were conquered by the Incas, who ruled an area stretching from Ecuador to northern Chile between 1300 and 1500.
Savoy, a Peruvian-American, accompanied on the expedition by his U.S. father, Gene Savoy, named the site Gran Saposoa after the nearby village Saposoa and his team has already mapped the area with preliminary drawings.
The discovery is the third notable ruin Gene Savoy has helped uncover in Peru. In 1964, Savoy found the site of the Incas' last refuge in the Cuzco region of southern Peru. A year later he took part in the discovery of the sacred city of Gran Pajaten in northern Peru.
American Hiram Bingham made Peru's most famous archeological discovery -- the fabled Inca ruins of Machu Picchu near Cuzco -- in 1911. Machu Picchu today attracts almost half a million tourists every year and is South America's best known archeological site.
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