A team of explorers
has discovered the ruins of a "lost city" in Peru, hidden in a
remote mountain jungle and untouched for more
The site has been
untouched for 500 years.
than 500 years.
Called Cota Coca, the ruins are in south-east
Peru, about 50 kilometers southwest of the well-known Inca site
of Machu Picchu in the Andes.
British writer and
explorer Hugh Thomson said the site, more of a settlement
than what we would understand as a city, was in a "remarkable
state of preservation".
Mr Thomson, a co-leader of the expedition, said: "You're
only going to find a new Inca site once in your life."
Geographical Society says Cota Coca's "constructed
area" is more than twice as large as any found at the other Incan ruin whose
discovery was announced just a few months ago.
Thomson and Ziegler
plan to return to the area
The ruins include about 30 stone buildings around a central
plaza. One structure, believed to be a large meeting hall or
barracks, measures longer than 20 meters.
"This is an important discovery, because it is a sizeable centre
of good-quality late-Inca masonry," said John Hemming, a
well-known Inca expert and former director of the Royal
But the newly discovered site is extremely remote, hidden at the
bottom of a near-inaccessible river canyon in dense jungle.
The expedition was co-led by Mr Thomson and by American
archaeologist Gary Ziegler, who began looking for the
site after a tip from a mule-handler.
The pair plan to return to the
area next year to look for even more ruins that may be hidden nearby.
Cota Coca, at 1,850 meters above sea level, is located on a
plateau near where the Yanama and Blanco rivers meet in a deep
canyon. The river and valley have become impassable, so the expedition had
to approach the city from the mountains above, trekking for five days from
the nearest trailhead into thick jungle.
"Getting there was quite
something," Mr Thomson said.
In Inca times, the explorers
say, there may have been a road linking Cota Coca to another
of the great Inca cities, Choquequirao. And Cota Coca
is likely one of the places to which fleeing Incas retreated from the
Spanish in 1532, before their total defeat about 40 years later.
The "coca" in the name may refer to the coca leaf, which could have been grown there and which only Inca nobles were
allowed to chew as a natural stimulant, Mr Thomson said.