Pambamarca (Equateur) : Ancient War Revealed in Discovery of Incan Fortresses Part.1


Ancient War Revealed in Discovery of Incan Fortresses

Owen Jarus

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The fortresses at the site, Quitoloma, were filled with Inca weaponry, including stones for slingshots.CREDIT: Samuel Connell

Incan fortresses built some 500 years ago have been discovered along an extinct volcano in northern Ecuador, revealing evidence of a war fought by the Inca just before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Andes.

"We're seeing evidence for a pre-Columbian frontier, or borderline, that we think existed between Inca fortresses and Ecuadorian people's fortresses," project director Samuel Connell, of Foothill College in California, told LiveScience.



Credit: Photo courtesy Samuel Connell/Pambamarca Archaeological ProjectGeophysical instruments allow scientists to identify ancient structures without digging. Here, a scientist conducts a geophysical survey on the heights of the extinct Ecuadorean volcano Pambamarca.

The team has identified what they think are 20 fortresses built by the Inca and two forts that were built by a people from Ecuador known as the Cayambe. The volcano is called Pambamarca



Credit: Photo courtesy Chad Gifford/Pambamarca Archaeological ProjectThe walls of the Inca fortress of Quitoloma in Ecuador can be seen from a great distance.

The team's research was presented in March at the 76th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), in Sacramento, Calif.



Credit: Photo courtesy Pambamarca Archaeological ProjectPambamarca is an extinct volcano located in northern Ecuador. For the Inca it was an important strategic area in which they built nearly 20 fortresses. Among the forts they built is that of Quitoloma, seen on the right, and two Cayambe fortresses (opposition to the Inca) closer to ground elevation.

"We know that there are many, many fortresses throughout northern Ecuador that haven't been identified one way or the other," said Chad Gifford, of Columbia University, who is also a project director.

Spanish folklore?

The discoveries suggest that there is a ring of truth to stories that Spanish chroniclers told when they penetrated into South America during the 16th and 17th centuries.

According to these stories, Incan ruler Huayna Capac sought to conquer the Cayambe. Using a "very powerful army," he was hoping for a quick victory but ended up getting entangled in a 17-year struggle.

"Finding that their forces were not sufficient to face the Inca on an open battlefield, the Cayambes withdrew and made strongholds in a very large fortress that they had," wrote Spanish missionary Bernabe Cobo in the 17th century in his book "History of the Inca Empire" (University of Texas Press, 1983). A translation, by Roland Hamilton, was published in 1983 by the University of Texas Press. "The Inca ordered his men to lay siege to it and bombard it continuously; but the men inside resisted so bravely that they forced the Inca to raise the siege because he had lost so many men."

Finally, after many battles, the Inca succeeded in driving the Cayambe out of their strongholds and onto the shores of a lake.

Cobo wrote that "the Inca ordered his men to cut the enemies' throats without pity as they caught them and to throw the bodies into the lake; as a result the water of the lake became so darkened with blood that it was given the name that it has today of Yahuarcocha, which means lake of blood."