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Choquequirao: Canary expedition in search of the white stone llamas

Choquequirao: white stone llama

The new Machu Picchu? A new archaeological site in Peru to rival Machu Picchu is being uncovered in the south of the country.

Canary expedition in search of the white stone llamas

Source: tenerifenews.com

A team of Canary investigators is currently in remotest Peru to study a startling new archaeological discovery which came to light recently in Choquequirao, an ancient Inca site which is being described in glowing terms as Machu Picchu’s “twin town”.

The find consists of a line of white stone llamas embedded in massive terraced stone walls and which, it is thought, could well form part of the entrance to the sacred valley of the Incas.

And make no mistake - the expedition to Choquequirao is no jolly. The three men and two women face a gruelling five days on foot and mule along badly eroded and slippery tracks, in 100% humidity and in full rainy season. But it’s one they have already done just three months ago and now they are hoping to find more of the mysterious llamas.

“After the hardships, mosquitoes and slips along the way what we found was truly worth all the trouble,” said team member Rubén Naveros of La Laguna’s Museum of Science and the Cosmos.

Geometric figure

A white stone artwork depicting a llama in Choquequirao, Peru.

So far 33 of the elegant, minimalist llamas have been uncovered, hidden behind and beneath thick vegetation, but the team thinks there could be as many as a hundred, maybe more. The frieze is unique and has caused a considerable ripple of excitement in the archaeological world because nothing remotely like it has been found in Inca architecture before.
Another member of the team explained how, on that first visit they had been puzzled by the fact that the mysterious stone complex appeared not to conform to the usual Inca pattern of being constructed in line with the sun. But they had eventually unearthed evidence of aligned white stones set in black earth and buried underneath centuries of dust and undergrowth. It seems this was the place where the Incas ritually sacrificed selected llamas.
The far-flung nature of the site can be judged by Gotzon Cañadas’s account of spending 22 hours on a bus from Lima to Cuzco, followed by a 4 hour switchback mountain journey in a cramped minibus to the tiny town of Cachora. “It was like world’s end,” he said. Then came the five day mule ride up the Vilcabamba mountains to Choquequirao, perched at an altitude of 3,300 metres above sea level.

At first glance Cachora might well have been far from the madding crowd, but on the return journey and after 65 kilometres in the wilds on the back of a mule it was civilization itself.
“As far as we were concerned it was Manhattan,” smiled Cañadas as he prepared to pack his bags and fly off to Peru with the rest of the team, on a quest to bring the white llamas back to life.


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Last updated: August 11, 2007