for National Geographic News
Ruins recently discovered in southern Peru could be the ancient "lost city" of Paititi, according to claims that are drawing serious but cautious response from experts.
The presumptive lost city, described in written records as a stone settlement adorned with gold statues, has long been a grail for explorers—as well as a lure for local tourism businesses.
A commonly cited legend claims that Paititi was built by the Inca hero Inkarri, who founded the city of Cusco before retreating into the jungle after Spanish conquerors arrived.
On January 10 Peru's state news agency reported that "an archaeological fortress" had been discovered in the district of Kimbiri and that the district's mayor suggested it was the lost city.
Mayor Guillermo Torres described the ruins as a 430,000-square-foot (40,000-square-meter) fortification near an area known as Lobo Tahuantinsuyo.
Few other details about the site were offered, but initial reports described elaborately carved stone structures forming the base of a set of walls.
The state media report quotes Torres as saying the area will be "immediately declared" a cultural tourism site.
Officials from the Peruvian government's Cusco-based National Institute of Culture (INC) met with Torres on Tuesday, according to Francisco Solís, an INC official.
"It is far too early to make any definitive judgments," Solís told National Geographic News. "We are going to dispatch a team to investigate."
Officials expect more details to emerge in the coming days, he said.
Legend of Paititi
Paititi is believed to have been located somewhere east of the Andes Mountains in the rain forest of southeastern Peru, southwestern Brazil, or northern Bolivia (see map).
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