The new Incas Sacred Valley (2009)

Hardly of these new data, I decide to return in France towards the end of January 2009 to go up a large-scale expedition, the main objective of which was to officialize the discovery of these immense Peruvian heritage which is also a big world heritage of the humanity. We are going to indicate this place under the name of code of "Red Zone".

It was about a relatively heavy operation technically and financially and we needed new partners to set up it. For several years already, we are lucky to be able to count on a certain number of industrial partners, in particular French, such as the Spot Image company (Toulouse), for the remote detection and the satellite imaging, or the Prodiris agency (Muret), which manages in particular the web sites of and

This time, thanks to the efficiency of my friend Fabienne Reschly, which is Public Relation of this project of search, we realize a partnership with the company Telespazio France (Toulouse E.U.), a subsidiary of Thalès. Iit is going to supply us a system of beacons of geography localization, radar images and a very successful system of telemedicine (the Medessat system). We also realize a magnificent partnership with the Municipality of Toulouse. And finally, the french channel TF1 will join to the project for the famous broadcast "Reportage". In brief, some weeks after my arrival in France, the operation "Antisuyu 2009" is set up and from the end of April, we are again ready for the departure.

The expedition had to take place in two time :

Mameria zone
The zone of Mameria and Piñi Piñi, new theater of the investigations of Thierry Jamin and his group.
(Photo : Courtesy, Spot Image, 2007)

The idea was at first to go to study a close region of the "Red Zone", situated in a dozen kilometers in the southeast. This zone included the sector of Mameria, discovered by Nicole and Herbert in 1979, but never studied in a scientific way. It was also our compromise with the Peruvian authorities.

Then, a helicopter had to come to get back us and to lead us towards our "Red Zone", where we thought of finding these famous ruins. We had had a little of evil to obtain all the necessary authorizations, because this zone is included in the territory of a native community in voluntary isolation, that of the Kuga Pakuris. It is about Indians who have a very bad reputation. We know very few things about them and most of the data which we possess comes to us Machiguengas. They live in a rather wild way, nudes and eat the raw meat. They also attack the Machis for their to steal their clothes and they would practise even still the anthropophagy. It was necessary to surround us of a great deal of precautions and to give many guarantees to the Peruvian authorities to bring them finally to authorize us to penetrate into this region. They dreaded that we are attacked, or that we contaminate them by a virus, as that of the flu. There had been the annoying precedent. (to see the section "SOS Heritage" and the affair CICADA).


To the forest of Manú
As during heroic time of the naturalists, our team gives up his 4X4 and begins, on foot and in back of mules, a length travel through the Andes, in the direction of the forest of Manú and of the archeological area of Mameria. In the foreground, our companion Melque.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, May, 2009)

And so on May 7th, 2009, the expedition "Antisuyu" leaves finally Cusco, aboard two 4X4, in the direction of the North and of the small village of Suyo. For the first time, we do not leave towards the Rio Alto Madre de Dios, but towards a zone of the department of still very badly known Cusco, and in which, for years, farmers of the place speak to me about the existence of important ruins, situated in a valley leading directly in the sector of Mameria and the "Red Zone", on the border of the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios.

After ten hours of road with 4X4 through the Andes and the Çera de Selva, we abandon our vehicles in a pueblo and charge the logistics on mules.


On the road of Mameria, Thierry Jamin and his group cross the valley of Lacco. In the bend of a road, they discover the lost city of Llactapata. They are not at the end of their surprises…
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, May, 2009)

The purpose, before reaching Mameria, was to list all the indications of archaeological nature showing the permanent presence of the Incas in this region. And indications of their presence, we detected it everywhere ! We meet an impressive quantity of completely unknown ruins. And then one day, we fall on a complete city ! A magnificent city, with its houses in walls stocked with niches, with his its triumph gates, its streets and its places. We do not return there ! This lost city, on the road of Paititi, is known by the inhabitants of the place, under the name of Llactapata, which means simply there quechua "the village in the mountain". There are tens of sites with this place-name. This city had to have another name. In any case, we are under the shock !

We stay a few hours to investigate this city, which we soon have to leave, to continue our road towards Mameria. But I promises me to return there as soon as possible !

We take for several days the magnificent inca roads, and totally unknown. Then we arrive finally in the zone of Mameria after one and a half week of exhausting march.

Mameria : archaeological sector of Chacopango
In the zone of Mameria, the exploration begins. Here a wall, in the archaeological sector of Chacopango.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, May, 2009)

USome words on Mameria. As said to me about it Nicole and Herbert Cartagena, it was about a small agrarian city of some tens of houses. In the time it is a very important discovery because it is the first material evidence of the permanent presence of the Incas in Amazonian forest. And the first really scientific indication of the possible existence of a big center of population, such as the being Paititi owed.

Indeed, the zone of Mameria is covered with square kilometers of terrace cultivations and gives the impression that it was about a center of agricultural production intended for the food of an important population, situated somewhere, not far from there.

Last May, we are going to realize the first scientific study of the region. We discover that really, there was not one "lost city" of Mameria, but several small villages, distributed in the valley of the Rio Mameria. The zone shows itself much more important than we thought it previously. It was a big agricultural zone. And certain terraces of culture still contain, five centuries later, plans of coca, intended for the time to the inca nobility !

The sector of the "oven", in the zone of Mameria
The sector of the "oven", in the zone of Mameria. The construction is very degraded today because of the action of the huaqueros. The nature takes back, too, little by little its rights on the inca ruins.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, May, 2009)

All in all, this first phase of the operation "Antisuyu 2009" is going to show itself of an extreme wealth and to allow us to gather in even unhoped-for and new data.

This zone seems to have constituted the main zone of contact between the region of Cusco, the capital of the empire, and that of Paititi, situated in the jungle. We detect the presence of ruins almost everywhere.

One fortnight after our arrival to Mameria, an helicopter the MI 17 of the PNP comes to get back us and has to lead us about fifteen kilometers more to the North, towards this famous "Red Zone".

The day of the transfer, the weather is not set fair. It is abundantly raining and the flight which had to last that about ten minutes are going to go on about forty minutes. In spite of the embarked GPS, we finally lose and we have to land on the banks of an unknown river to review. In the passage, we are bombarded with arrows by Natives hidden in trees.

The helicopter MI-17 of the National police force
On May 29th, an helicopter MI-17 of the National police force comes to get back the team to Mameria to take it 12 kilometers more to the North, in the famous "Red Zone"…
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, May, 2009)

We take off again some minutes later. And the copter finally poses to us in the place supposed by the "Red Zone", but I do not really recognize the glanced through place a few months earlier.

We install however a new base camp on the site. But the exploration which we shall realize the next days in the zone will show itself very disappointing. To my great surprise, we detect no indication of archaeological nature in the sector. Besides, the supposed zone to be occupied by Kuga Pakuris is really lived by Machiguengas.

After several days of exploration without result, it becomes clear that we shall find nothing there. We have the impression of a confusion of place.

At the beginning of June 2009, with a heavy heart, I decide to put an end to this second phase and to return to Cusco. Paititi is not there…

A few days later, to Cusco, the checks which we make on our maps confirm us that we did not go to the good place. We were not far, actually. But the foul weather played on us a trick. It will thus be necessary to return to this zone in the next dry season.

For all that, the campaign 2009 was not ended. As I had decided on it in May, on the road of Mameria, we left in July following towards this valley in which we had perceived so many inca rests and this city lost by Llactapata.

The incredible mirador of the fortress of Hualla
The incredible mirador of the fortress of Hualla, situated in the entrance of the first zone of the valley of Lacco.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, December, 2009)

This new expedition, which lasted three weeks, is going to show itself exceptional. Because not only we confirmed the importance of the city of Llactapata, but we have still discovered about ten totally unknown archeological sites. Five of them, are of the scale of Pisac or Choquequiraw. We do not believe our eyes !

We make every day of surprising discoveries. We discover one day an incredible necropolis, containing tens even hundreds of inca mummies. Question : where from are native the persons buried in this put off zone ? Certainly not of Cusco.

The valley where we are shows itself as a new Sacred Valley of the Incas. And the more we investigate it, in the direction of the jungle and of the "Red Zone", the more the met sites are of big scale.

The magnificent "yellow temple" of the city of Llactapata
The magnificent "yellow temple" of the city of Llactapata, localized in the first zone of the valley of Lacco.
(Photo : Thierry Jamin, May, 2009)

The inhabitants of the Valley assure us that all these ruins, all these inca roads, lead towards a "main city", lost somewhere in the jungle…

For more details of the last expeditions of Thierry Jamin and the discoveries of his team : to see his next book, to appear soon to the editions of Cherche Midi (Paris)...

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