Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Inca Treasures" Season 1 Episode 23

The episode "Inca Treasures" first aired on August 11, 1977 . It was directed by H.G. Stark and it was written by Robert Long.

This episode will focus on the Kingdom of the Inca and stories of vast treasures, known more commonly as the lost city of El Dorado. Nimoy tells us that men are still searching for this supposed lost treasure of the Inca. What stands out to me initially is the stylish look Nimoy is sporting.

Nimoy is taking us to the Andes mountains in present day Peru. Many have been exploring this region and have found historical artifacts of value and interest that give us a sense for the ancient people who live in this area known as the Inca. Nimoy tells us that for some, these finds are not enough.

 Nimoy tells us that this region has drawn people to it for centuries. Due to the nature of the mountains, there is a feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world. Now for a little history lesson. Nimoy tells of ancient civilizations in the region with advanced technologies and an almost modern way of life. He uses the example of the Fortress of Saksaywayman as an example of skill they had in building.

"Even in death, the Inca were a proud and disciplined race." Much of what is known from the Inca, have come from studying their graves. We next see scientists in Lima studying an ancient Incan mummy. Nimoy is very good here, pointing out how magical it is to see and touch things that were considered important to a people who lived so long ago. Why were these things so important? Fascinating stuff! Nimoy give us the bad news. Those looking for knowledge must compete with those who are greedy. a thriving black market in antiquities has big influence on this work.

We are reminded that a big moment in the Inca past was the arrival of Spaniard explorer Francisco Pizarro in 1527. To magnify the almost absurdity of what happened, Nimoy tells us that the mighty Incan Empire was driven into oblivion by 180 Spanish soldiers in rusty armor.

The Inca who survived fled their civilization for the jungle. In the early 20th century, Yale Archaeologist Hiram Bingham was one man who decided to trace their route. Bingham reasoned they took whatever treasures that remained with them. He spent over a year in Peru looking. In July 1911, he thought he found the last city of the Incas. He found temples and buildings, but no gold. This is the ruin known as Machu Piccu.

Bingham wrote about his awe in what he had found. Temples devoted to sun worship, and exquisite masonry. The road to the ruin was a tough one to traverse. Bingham was wrong about this ruin, it wasn;t the last city of the Inc but it doesn't change its beauty! Nimoy takes us to Professor Edmundo Guillen who is the world's leading expert on Incan culture. In 1976, Guillen's work made headlines around the world. Remarkably, the "In Search Of.. " cameras were there. We are shown the expedition taken by Guillen and others to Machu Piccu. Nimoy details how difficult the journey is.

Guillen wants to set the record straight on the final chapter of the Inca Civilization. The popular conception of what happened is that Pizarro's murder of the Inca King Atahualpa brought the Empire instantly to its knees.

(King Atahualpa)
Guillen is hopeful that he will find the city of Vilcabamba that was mentioned by later Spanish explorers in letters they wrote home. This will show that the Inca did have another city after Machu Piccu. Perhaps here is where the gold is? He has researched these letters extensively. Guillen and his men find a cave entrance on their journey and a crypt inside that has been hidden for a long time. Guillen believes it may be a burial of importance. They move on for now, but will return later to excavate the site. Guillen eventually finds Vilcabamba, and "In Search Of... " documents this discovery.

Nimoy explains how Guillen confirms that the masonry here is identical to the Inca masonry at Machu Piccu. Vilcabamba is much larger than Machu Piccu and was built after the death of Atahualpa. Based on letters from Spaniards and the construction evidence, they conclude that it was built closer to the 17th century. Guillen's work shows the city was carefully planned and had many advanced technologies. Guillen concludes the Temple of the Sun at Vilcabamba was faced with solid gold at one time. Remarkably they understood higher mathematics, but never invented the wheel! The discovery proves the Inca were not immediately conquered, but continued to survive for many years after. Is this the mythical city of gold? Or is that city still hidden in the jungle? Guillen believes this is the city and that the Inca dumped the gold in the river to avoid it falling into Spanish hands.

"When Edmundo Guillen marched into Vilcabamba the gold was gone. He believes the Inca may have dumped into one of dozens of nearby lakes to prevent it from falling into Spanish hands. But Guillen discovered a treasure nevertheless. His was the treasure of satisfaction and achievement. The treasure of writing a new chapter to history of a proud and brilliant people called Inca."

I enjoyed this episode despite the complete lack of creepiness. It seems that "In Search Of... " is not entirely sure what it wants to be. Is this a show that is built around evidence and mainstream science, or is it going to take leaps into conjecture? Not much creepy here, but I liked how they used history and the quest for knowledge. It was also really cool that they were present when Guillen discovered Vilcabamba. This was much better than the last episode on Voodoo. Yet this is not the kind of story I remember seeing in syndication. I think in syndication, decisions were made to only show the creepy episodes or at least the ones that were a little more weird.

You can watch this episode "Inca Treasures" below.

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