for National Geographic News
Stone structures in Peru that were recently suggested to be the ruins of an ancient "lost city" are actually the result of natural forces, not Inca handiwork, officials say.
The announcement comes from archaeologists with Peru's culture ministry and clouds the prospects of one local politician to turn the site into a tourist attraction.
On January 10, Peruvian state media reported that a stone fortress had been discovered on the heavily forested eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains (see map). .
The story quoted the local mayor as saying the structures were discovered under heavy vegetation by villagers, who dubbed the site Manco Pata.
Guillermo Torres, the mayor of nearby Kimbiri, suggested that the complex could be the lost city of Paititi, described in local legend as a citadel built by the Inca hero Inkarri after the Spanish conquest.
After the initial report of the find, experts from the Peruvian government's Cusco-based National Institute of Culture (INC) arrived at the site and issued their findings in a February 12 report.
In the four-page report, the researchers deliver what one INC official described as "alarming news": Natural chemical and physical processes, including seismic activity, created the stone blocks found at the site, causing them to "appear to be walls or surfaces made by hand," the report states.
The team found "no evidence of archaeological structures or buildings that could suggest a human presence," it adds.
"Too Good to Be True"
Geological analysis identified the formations as sandstone, the report says.
"The stones do not show signs of wear or of intervention from the hands of men from the act of cutting stone," it states.
Scientists also found no mortar on the corners or sides of the stone blocks.
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES