|Lost Treasure of the Inca
written by Peter Lourie
The Inca crafted many of the world’s most beautiful objects, including golden masks, plates, vases and jewelry. Most of that treasure has been lost to history, plundered by the conquistadors.
But more treasure does exist. Tons of golden objects may be buried in the mountains of Ecuador. There is strong evidence that over four hundred years ago an Inca general hid the treasure—perhaps the largest in the world—from the gold-hungry Spaniards.
Although expeditions over the centuries have failed to find the gold, adventurers continue to search the haunting, cloud-forested mountains of Ecuador.
Peter Lourie's account of his own search for lost gold draws readers into the mysterious realm of the Inca. As the author follows his guides up into these eerie mountains to what seems like the top of the world, he discovers there is more than gold hidden in Ecuador. There is adventure-and history.
“Think of 750 tons of gold and silver—literally a king's ransom intended as barter for the life of a god-king. Think of an ancient treasure guide, and ponder whether it was intended as a true map or as cunning misdirection. Think of swirling fog, quicks and bogs, treacherous crevasses, and dense overgrowth that frustrate treasure hunters. This isn't R.L. Stevenson, but the real-life adventure of author Lourie, who followed the tantalizing path suggested by centuries of Inca and Spanish lore, a guide written by Spanish solder Valverde who claimed to know the location of the hidden cache, and an old Swiss treasure hunter who boasted that he simply needed "the Ecuadorian Army to help him dig the gold out from under tons of mud." Lourie recounts how he employed the services of three seasoned guides to lead him high into the Andes; plagued by mosquitoes, biting ants, and doubts concerning the reliability of Valverde's directions, he finally succumbed to altitude sickness and had to descend without discovering a glimmer of the gold. But he did return with a ripping good yarn to tell (in which he portrays himself as part heroic adventurer, part possible dupe, and part outlander who's clearly not fit for the rigors of mountaineering) and some breathtaking photographs of the mist-shrouded volcanic peaks. This should be a hot pick for armchair travelers, and it could make a terrific tie-in for a unit on Amerindian culture.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)
“A revisit to the locale years later prompted this fascinating book, an Indiana Jones-mix of history, lost treasure, and visions of wealth. The readable text is accompanied by color photos on almost every page. Team this with Tim Wood's pictorial The Incas (Viking) and Johan Reinhard's remarkable Discovering the Inca Ice Maiden (National Geographic) for a marvelous look at a vanished civilization.” (School Library Journal)
“Armchair adventurers with a taste for gold will be quickly drawn into a modern-day search for hidden treasure. Double-crossed by Pizarro after he murdered their king, the Incas hid an estimated 750 tons of gold high in the Llanganati mountains of Ecuador. Armed with the deathbed testimony of a sixteenth-century Spaniard who claims to have seen the gold, Lourie and three guides set off to find it. The description of the difficult terrain, complete with photos, is evocative. Dense jungle opens onto a boggy desert, the air is desperately thin, and there's disorienting fog, which one man calls "liquid sunshine." Lourie never finds any gold, but he considers himself just as rich for the experience: "I knew I was in the presence of the ancient Incas. Indeed, I had been given a gift greater than gold." Readers may not agree; they'd probably rather see the loot. Still, Lourie's tale is guaranteed to generate interest in the still-unsolved mystery, and it offers teachers the chance to connect an ancient culture to our own.” (Booklist)
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