CHAPTER XVI. The Story of Tampu-tocco, a Lost City of the First Incas

It will be remembered that while on the search for the capital of the last Incas we had found several groups of ruins which we could not fit entirely into the story of Manco and his sons. The most important of these was Machu Picchu. Many of its buildings are far older than the ruins of Rosaspata and Espiritu Pampa. To understand just what we may have found at Machu Picchu it is now necessary to tell the story of a celebrated city, whose name, Tampu-tocco, was not used even at the time of the Spanish Conquest as the cognomen of any of the Inca towns then in existence. I must draw the reader's attention far away from the period when Pizarro and Manco, Toledo and Tupac Amaru were the protagonists, back to events which occurred nearly seven hundred years before their day. The last Incas ruled in Uiticos between 1536 and 1572. The last Amautas flourished about 800 A.D.

The Amautas had been ruling the Peruvian highlands for about sixty generations, when, as has been told in Chapter VI, invaders came from the south and east. The Amautas had built up a wonderful civilization. Many of the agricultural and engineering feats which we ordinarily assign to the Incas were really achievements of the Amautas. The last of the Amautas was Pachacuti VI, who was killed by an arrow on the battle-field of La Raya. The historian Montesinos, whose work on the antiquities of Peru has recently been translated for the Hakluyt Society by Mr. P. A. Means, of Harvard University, tells us that the followers of Pachacuti VI fled with his body to "Tampu-tocco." This, says the historian, was "a healthy place" where there was a cave in which they hid the Amauta's body. Cuzco, the finest and most important of all their cities, was sacked. General anarchy prevailed throughout the ancient empire. The good old days of peace and plenty disappeared before the invader. The glory of the old empire was destroyed, not to return for several centuries. In these dark ages, resembling those of European medieval times which followed the Germanic migrations and the fall of the Roman Empire, Peru was split up into a large number of small independent units. Each district chose its own ruler and carried on depredations against its neighbors. The effects of this may still be seen in the ruins of small fortresses found guarding the way into isolated Andean valleys.

Montesinos says that those who were most loyal to the Amautas were few in number and not strong enough to oppose their enemies successfully. Some of them, probably the principal priests, wise men, and chiefs of the ancient regime, built a new city at "Tampu-tocco." Here they kept alive the memory of the Amautas and lived in such a relatively civilized manner as to draw to them, little by little, those who wished to be safe from the prevailing chaos and disorder and the tyranny of the independent chiefs or "robber barons." In their new capital, they elected a king, Titi Truaman Quicho.

The survivors of the old regime enjoyed living at Tampu-tocco, because there never have been any earthquakes, plagues, or tremblings there. Furthermore, if fortune should turn against their new young king, Titi Truaman, and he should be killed, they could bury him in a very sacred place, namely, the cave where they hid the body of Pachacuti VI.

Fortune was kind to the founders of the new kingdom. They had chosen an excellent place of refuge where they were not disturbed. To their ruler, the king of Tampu-tocco, and to his successors nothing worth recording happened for centuries. During this period several of the kings wished to establish themselves in ancient Cuzco, where the great Amautas had reigned, but for one reason or another were obliged to forego their ambitions.

One of the most enlightened rulers of Tampu-tocco was a king called Tupac Cauri, or Pachacuti VII. In his day people began to write on the leaves of trees. He sent messengers to the various parts of the highlands, asking the tribes to stop worshiping idols and animals, to cease practicing evil customs which had grown up since the fall of the Amautas, and to return to the ways of their ancestors. He met with little encouragement. On the contrary, his ambassadors were killed and little or no change took place. Discouraged by the failure of his attempts at reformation and desirous of learning its cause, Tupac Cauri was told by his soothsayers that the matter which most displeased the gods was the invention of writing. Thereupon he forbade anybody to practice writing, under penalty of death. This mandate was observed with such strictness that the ancient folk never again used letters. Instead, they used quipus, strings and knots. It was supposed that the gods were appeased, and every one breathed easier. No one realized how near the Peruvians as a race had come to taking a most momentous step.