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Lost ancient city unearthed in Peru

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Lost ancient city unearthed in Peru - may be "El Dorado"

Subj: Lost ancient city unearthed in Peru - may be "El Dorado"

Date: 6/2/00 2:50:34 PM Pacific Daylight Time


June 3 4:28 AM SGT



LIMA (AFP) - A pre-Hispanic city of stone, complete with houses, temples and burial sites, has been discovered in the virgin rain forest of eastern Peru, according to a press report Friday.


The city, located in the northern province of San Martin, is being excavated by a team headed by the veteran and sometimes controversial US explorer and archaeologist, Gene Savoy.


Savoy is aided by four Peruvian archaeologists.


Members of the team told Lima's El Commercio newspaper they believe the stone city -- much of which has yet to be uncovered -- may be the city sought without success by 16th-century Spanish explorers, who called it "El Dorado," Spanish for "The Golden City."


The archaeologists believe the settlement was built by the pre-Hispanic Chachapoyas people, sometimes referred to as the Sachapuyas, who settled in the region around 700 A.D.


"This city only existed in local legend and in the writings of chroniclers who wrote of lost cities of gold in the rainforest. Many Spanish sources in the 16th century referred to a lost city they called El Dorado," archaeologist Alberto Bueno told the newspaper.


The site is not far from Gran Pajaten, the largest Chachapoyas city found so far, and may prove to be more extensive than those ruins, according to the team.


Miguel Cornejo, another member of the team, told the newspaper: "What we have found is an urban complex which shows a certain management of space. It was a stabilized society, a type of tribal state."


The Chachapoyas people, who gave their name to the town that is now capital of Peru's Amazonas state, were conquered by the Incas in the late 15th century, shortly before the arrival of the Spaniards.


They left behind scattered villages and burial sites which have only recently begun to be on the tourist trail.


The team declined to reveal the exact location of the latest site, for fear of looters, but said it lies on the Saposoa River in San Martin province. Covering some 40 square kilometers (15 square miles), it has yielded 36 stone dwellings, they say.


They showed El Comercio's reporters ritual masks and photographs of stone houses hidden behind dense tropical greenery.


The team traveled to the site on May 10-20 with a small caravan of horses and mules.


It found no evidence of gold in the area.


"What we have found is only a part of a larger urban complex which must have some 150 buildings in the depths of the forest," Bueno said.



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