The last Inca emperor’s tomb was found

The Machay hacienda, nestled deep in the subtropical jungle of the Chugchilán parish in Cotopaxi, is a remote place that preserves the ruins of the last stronghold of the Incas of Quito. There, historian Tamara Estupiñán discovered archaeological remains believed to be the last dwelling place of the Inca Atahualpa. Indeed, the tomb of the last Inca emperor was found in the Malqui Machay sector in Sigchos canton.

Since then, this hacienda has achieved notoriety inside and outside of Ecuador. An area of three hectares contains most of the remains, which consist of very important ruins built in stone and with unique characteristics. In the place are the vestiges of a monument of late imperial design, which has an impressive entrance alley, through which you can access different rectangular rooms. Aqueducts and canals surround a trapezoidal plaza, with everything located around it.

The last Inca emperor’s tomb was found

“One researcher explains that, according to their hypothesis, Rumiñahui likely guarded Atahualpa or his mummified body at the last stronghold.” They are monumental ruins with great symbolic meaning because it would have been like the small house or abode, as the people say. Chroniclers, from the last Capac Inca, from Tahuantinsuyo ”, added Estupiñán.   Malqui Machay in Quichua means “burial of the body of the ayllu’s progenitor.” A building loaded with symbolism that would not reach the category of fortress or temple.

The History

Getting to this magical and historical place will take you 12 hours of travel, round trip, from Quito. However, the effort is worth it to live an unforgettable adventure full of picturesque landscapes typical of the Andean range. In Sigchos, explore Central Park and the historic mother church, brimming with captivating history and cultural significance. Explore and capture stunning landscapes at Quilotoa volcano, Zarapullo Natural Viewpoint, Toachi River Canyon, and Blue Hills. All this can be achieved with the motorcycle Hot & Cold Guided tour.  

On July 16, 2004, Jaime Pástor Morris, archaeologist Tamara L. Bray and Tamara Estupiñán. An Ecuadorian fellow of the French Institute of Andean Studies, arrived at the Malqui hacienda (Inca mummy in Kichwa). They found few Inca archaeological remains, but it was the tip of the iceberg. In 2010, Estupiñán organized a second expedition. On June 26, a few kilometers from the hacienda, they discovered an Inca archaeological site on a hill called Machay. Estupiñán has dedicated a decade to unraveling the actions of the Incas from Quito in the war against Cusco.

The last Inca emperor’s tomb was found

The Place

Close to the Cotopaxi volcano and next to the royal road or Qhuapac Ñan, a royal Tambo was built in Callo that served to house the Inca elite and their hosts. Despite ongoing investigations, Estupiñán argues that it is an Inca monument of late imperial design with a marvelous entrance alley.

The last Inca emperor’s tomb was found

According to her, access several rectangular rooms, built with cut stone, surrounding a trapezoidal plaza. Aqueducts and canals encircle the site, one leading to a small waterfall, forming what appears to be an ‘Inca bath’. They believe Malqui-Machay, the name given to the monument, to be the burial site of the ayllu’s progenitor.

However, Estupiñán believes that more than answers, the finding raises questions. And she adds: “Let Archeology help to decipher this enigma.” Francisco Moncayo, a 38-year-old agro-zootechnical engineer. One of the owners of the Machay farm describes it as a tranquil place surrounded by rivers and mountains. This is where banana, lime, orange, lemon trees grow and a variety of crops and ornamental plants.

Text Credits: Ama la Vida Magazine (Ministry of Tourism Ecuador)

They found the tomb of Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor.

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