Czechs uncover "lost city" beneath frosty heights

A Czech scientific expedition has claimed to have found a lost Inca city at the highest altitude to date in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. A team of two Czech scientists and two researchers - including the head of the philosophy faculty of Olomouc, Ivo Bartecek - spent three weeks of the South American winter to prove that Inca and pre-Incan civilisations once existed at the highest regions of the Andean mountain range. The expedition centred on the area around Lake Titicaca. The Czechs hope to shed new light on the life of the Incas and their history.

Three weeks of biting winter at 3,000 to 4,000 metres may not be everybody's idea of a good time, but it brought remarkable rewards this year for Ivo Bartecek and other members of the Czech expedition in the Andes, setting out to prove that Inca settlements existed at even higher altitudes than previously found. The team proved successful in uncovering one such settlement made up of several sites and dozens of ruins over a ten kilometre range. The search took place in the region of Lake Titicaca, Ivo Bartecek says under the highest place under the sun. The Incas revered its precious rays and the most important deity in their pantheon was their sun god Inti.

"We wanted to map the heritage of pre-Inca and Inca cultures, as well as the impact of Spanish conquistadors, and we began with the basic hypothesis that we would search in the highest areas. The sun was always of paramount live-giving importance for the Incas, so we centred our search as high up and close to the glaciers as possible. The south-east, Bolivian side above Titicaca, beneath the peaks of Illampu and Ancohuma."

What they found should interest both experts and lay history buffs.

"The area - is precious in its complexity, valuable as a whole more than in itstails. Nevertheless, there is plenty that will interest both experts and laymen. In terms of historical topography - for me - one of the most important elements was mapping communication routes. But, visiting travellers, if they climb so high, will be interested in seeing the site. The lowest part of the settlement once included at least five burial pyramids, two of which are still in existence. "

Now extensive photographic and video documentation remains to be analysed over the next several months; it will be an arduous process but it will be worth it. Says Ivo Bartecek, Lake Titicaca is the cradle of South American civilisations. After the new area is mapped, it will open the way for new archaeological and ethnographic research that should continue where Bartecek and co. leave off.