Damien F. Mackey
“Presently we found ourselves in the midst of a tropical forest, beneath the shade of whose trees we could make out a maze of ancient walls, the ruins of buildings made of blocks of granite, some of which were beautifully fitted together in the most refined style of Inca architecture”.
Hiram Bingham III
Had there really been Spanish conquistadorial invasions of Mesoamerica about a millennium and a half after Jesus Christ, those willing and well-armed soldiers would no more have encountered living and vibrant Inca and Aztec civilisations, with their multitudes of colourful warriors, I suggest, than had Napoleon Bonaparte and his Grande Armée, in 1798 AD, in Egypt, come across an Egyptian pharaoh still ruling over his brilliant ancient civilisation.
Both the Mesoamerican and the Egyptian civilisations, rightly belonging to BC time, had long ago collapsed and their monuments had fallen into decay.
Whether or not a King Hiram of old had sent ships to America in BC time, the Tyrian king’s namesake, Hiram Bingham III, found largely uninhabited ancient cities and villages much overgrown. Bingham himself describes what he saw in 1911 as he approached Machu Picchu https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/1913/04/machu-picchu-peru-inca-hiram-bingham-discovery/
Apart from another hut in the vicinity and a few stone-faced terraces, there seemed to be little in the way of ruins, and I began to think that my time had been wasted. However, the view was magnificent, the water was delicious; and the shade of the hut most agreeable. So we rested a while and then went on to the top of the ridge. On all sides of us rose the magnificent peaks of the Urubamba Cañon, while 2,000 feet below us the rushing waters of the noisy river, making a great turn, defended three sides of the ridge, on top of which we were hunting for ruins. On the west side of the ridge the three Indian families who had chosen this eagle's nest for their home had built a little path, part of which consisted of crude ladders of vines and tree trunks tied to the face of the precipice.
Presently we found ourselves in the midst of a tropical forest, beneath the shade of whose trees we could make out a maze of ancient walls, the ruins of buildings made of blocks of granite, some of which were beautifully fitted together in the most refined style of Inca architecture. A few rods farther along we came to a little open space, on which were two splendid temples or palaces. The superior character of the stone work, the presence of these splendid edifices, and of what appeared to be an unusually large number of finely constructed stone dwellings, led me to believe that Machu Picchu might prove to be the largest and most important ruin discovered in South America since the days of the Spanish conquest.
A few weeks later I asked Mr. H. L. Tucker, the engineer of the 1911 Expedition, and Mr. Paul Baxter Lanius, the assistant, to go to Machu Picchu and spend three weeks there in an effort to partially clear the ruins and make such a map as was possible in the time at their disposal. The result of this work confirmed me in my belief that here lay a unique opportunity for extensive clearing and excavating. ….
‘Suddenly I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality of Inca stonework.’ The ruins were overgrown by trees, bamboo thickets and tangles of vines and covered with moss, but the white granite walls were ‘carefully cut and exquisitely fitted together’ and the scene ‘fairly took my breath away.’
“… overgrown by trees, bamboo thickets and tangles of vines and covered with moss …”.
In very recent times, another lost city under dense jungle covering has been discovered: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/peru/3545998/Lost-city-of-cloud-people-found-in-Peru.html
By Jeremy McDermott, Latin America Correspondent
7:30PM GMT 03 Dec 2008
“The settlement covers some 12 acres and is perched on a mountainside in the remote Jamalca district of Utcubamba province in the northern jungles of Peru's Amazon.
The buildings found on the Pachallama peak are in remarkably good condition, estimated to be over 1,000 years old and comprised of the traditional round stone houses built by the Chachapoya, the 'Cloud Forest People'.
The area is completely overgrown with the jungle now covering much of the settlement but explorers found the walls of the buildings and rock paintings on a cliff face.
The remote nature of the site appears to have protected the site from looters as archaeologists found ceramics and undisturbed burial sites.
Archaeologist Benedicto Pérez Goicochea said: "The citadel is perched on the edge of an abyss.
"We suspect that the ancient inhabitants used this as a lookout point from where they could spot potential enemies."
The ruins were initially discovered by local people hacking through the jungle. They were drawn to the place due to the sound of a waterfall.
The local people "armed with machetes opened a path that arrived at the place where they saw a beautiful panorama, full of flowers and fauna, as well as a waterfall, some 500 metres high," said the mayor of Jamalca, Ricardo Cabrera Bravo.
Initial studies have found similarities between the new discovery and the Cloud Peoples' super fortress of Kulep, also in Utcubamba province, which is older and more extensive that the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, but has not been fully explored or restored. …”.
Supposedly, the Chachapoya - considered to have been once allied to the Spanish (c. 1500 AD) - were white skinned:
“Little is known about the Chachapoya, except that they had been beaten into submission by the mighty Incas in 1475.
When in 1535 the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in Peru, they found willing allies in the Cloud People for their fight against the Incas.
Spanish texts from the era describe the Cloud People as ferocious fighters who mummified their dead.
They were eventually wiped out by small pox and other diseases brought by the Europeans.
The women of the Chachapoya were much prized by the Incas as they were tall and fair skinned. The Chronicler Pedro Cieza de León offers wrote of the Chachapoyas.
"They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in Indies, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas' wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple”."
However, there appears to be no primary written evidence for further elucidation about them:
Since the Incas and conquistadors were the principal sources of information on the Chachapoyas, there is little first-hand or contrasting knowledge of the Chachapoyas. Writings by the major chroniclers of the time, such as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, were based on fragmentary second-hand accounts. Much of what we do know about the Chachapoyas culture is based on archaeological evidence from ruins, pottery, tombs and other artifacts. Spanish chronicler Pedro Cieza de León noted that, after their annexation to the Inca Empire, they adopted customs imposed by the Cusco-based Inca. By the 18th century, the Chachapoyas had been devastated; however, they remain a distinct strain within the indigenous peoples of modern Peru.