Peruvian and British explorers have discovered a lost Inca city on a peak in the Andes that was used by the Incas as a place of resistance against Spanish conquerors in the 16th century. The site, about 25 miles from Machu Picchu, was already known to local people, and may provide new clues to the Inca civilization, since it was hardly touched by the conquistadors.

The expedition leader, British explorer Peter Frost, says the site is the largest that has been found since 1964. It may also contain evidence that could shake up current theories about the Inca civilization. ?It?s a jigsaw puzzle. What we?re finding are more pieces…to get a better sense of what was happening in that area,? Frost says.

At the site, called Corihuayrachina, explorers have found signs of a well-developed and sophisticated settlement, including a spectacular sacred ceremonial platform. Hidden in thick forest on Mount Victoria in the remote Vilcabamba region, the ruins consist of 12 sites with more than 100 structures, including circular homes, storehouses, cemeteries, funeral towers, roadways, waterworks, farming terraces, a dam and a truncated pyramid. In spite of the looting which the explorers say took place in modern times, pottery, stone instruments and human remains have been found.

The Incas once ruled the area of South America stretching from Colombia to Chile, but Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro and his treasure hunters brought the empire to an end in 1533. An Inca army of 50,000 moved to the newly-discovered remote area and held out against the invaders for nearly 40 years.

The city, which the Incas may have taken over from other tribes, was built around an ancient silver mine which was mined by locals until the 1970s. The area is now used as grazing land. Frost first spotted it when he and a colleague were hiking on a nearby ridge in 1999. But its remote location and tough terrain meant it took them another two years to organize the first expedition.

To learn more, read ?Atlantis in America? by Ivar Zap and George Erikson,click here.

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