by Philip Coppens
from PhilipCoppens Website
In 1973, Erich von Däniken, at the height of his fame, claimed in his book “The Gold of the Gods” that he had found a gigantic subterranean tunnel system in Ecuador. It was a major claim - and one that seriously would tarnish his profile, for his source would soon deny he had done no such thing.
For many, the incident proved that von Däniken was a fabricator of lies - a much more damaging claim than being known to make outlandish claims that the gods were ancient astronauts.
The descent into the
Cueva de los Tayos during the first expedition
The story really begins in the Brazilian town of Manaus, on March 3, 1972, when a German journalist Karl Brugger met a local Amazonian Indian, Tatunca Nara, in the backstreet tavern Gracas a Deus.
The meeting would result in Brugger’s book, The Chronicle of Akakor. The title of the book was supposedly the same title as the chronicle that the Amazonian tribe of which Tatunca was a member (the Mogulala tribe) held sacred - or at least central - to their mythology and philosophy.
A second bombshell was that Tatunca claimed that the Year Zero of the Chronicle was 10,481 BC - very much outside accepted archaeological dates for human occupation of the Amazon, but perfectly within the “Atlantis and Deluge” theory that many alternative researchers favored as the anti-thesis to the science-wrought framework.
Thirdly, that the Gods came from
a solar system “Schwerta”, and built an underground tunnel system in
South America. Each element on its own and all together even more so
made for a stunning “revelation” - or lie.
The first, Akanis, was built “on a narrow isthmus in the country that is called Mexico”, at a place where the two oceans meet (Panama?).
The second was Akakor (apparently derived from Aka, i.e. fort, and kor, i.e., two - Fort Two) and lay far up the Purus river, in a high valley in the mountains of the border between Brazil and Peru.
Tatunca added that the city had a Great Temple of the Sun, that it contained documents, such as maps and drawings telling the history of the Earth.
Maps drawn in the 1970s, supposedly showing the two parts of Akakor,
on the left above
ground, on the right, below ground.
26 stone - the material not being a common commodity in the Amazon - cities were built around Akakor, including Humbaya and Paititi in Bolivia, Emin, Cadira in Venezuela, etc.
It meant that there was very little to check out on the ground. Tatunca’s claims seemed to be unverifiable. Still, Paititi was a known legend, held to be the last refuge of the Incas at the time of the Spanish Conquest, but no-one knew whether it was myth or real. Did Tatunca hijack it to “substantiate” his own legends?
Finally, Cuzco and Machu Picchu were genuine towns, but the latter’s history definitely did not stretch anywhere as far back as even 1000 BC and seemed void of any ancient astronaut.
Was Tatunca telling the truth or was he a con artist? It was a very tall tale, and with the stakes being very high, Brugger decided to investigate and see where the rabbit - or Tatunca - would take him.
Still, the two decided to go on an expedition in search of Akahim.
They set off on September 25, 1972, on a trip that would last six
weeks. Akahim, unsurprisingly, was not discovered.
He had taken von Däniken to a secret side-entrance, through which they could enter into a large hall of the labyrinth. Moricz claimed that the tunnels continued for hundreds of miles, across - or under - the Amazonian rain forest.
But when the book got published, journalists from the German Spiegel and Stern interviewed Moricz, who now denied ever having been in the cave with Erich von Däniken.
It undermined von Däniken’s credibility - though some would argue he had none to begin with - branding him a liar. No-one seemed to note that if von Däniken had been lying, he would not have left a trail to Moricz: he could have claimed he could not reveal his source and Der Spiegel and Stern would never have been the wiser.
Instead, it seemed that “something” was amiss with Moricz.
In Der Spiegel, March 19, 1973, we can read:
Moricz further stated that the library was guarded by a tribe.
So, in short, Moricz had claimed to von Däniken he had discovered caves and showed these to him. Now, he claimed to have seen the caves, led there by a guide whom he could not identify, but denied having taken von Däniken there.
The logical conclusion seemed to be that Moricz had shown something to von Däniken, was now caught by the fact that everyone seemed to know he had done so, and that he had to make sure that whoever showed him, did not bear any grudges against Moricz, no doubt because Moricz himself would most likely have been asked not to show anyone else the site.
That was Act One.
In 1976, The Chronicle of Akakor was published and the controversy was reignited, though von Däniken and Moricz seemed to be missing from the scene. Still, amongst the core message of the Chronicle was the statement that there was a network of tunnels, some of it still in existence today and used by the Indians.
On his part, during the summer of 1977, von Däniken traveled for a third time to Manaus, to meet with Tatunca Nara, in the hope that via Tatunca, he could produce evidence and vindicate himself - Moricz, it was clear, was a dead end for von Däniken.
But once recovered, he interested the Brazilian authorities in setting up an expedition of their own.
set out with six men. In its August 1, 1979 issue, Veja, a Brazilian
newspaper, reported the discovery of Akahim, including photographs.
That same year, Tatunca and Schmid claimed to have found Akahim too
- sort of. Early on, Tatunca had stated that Akahim had three large
pyramids and they claimed to have found these. Still, though seen,
they had not been visited the site and Schmid lost - or claimed to
have lost - his camera and film.
It was the timeframe when the Moricz and Tatunca stories merged - Tatunca stated that he knew Moricz, when he was staying in Venezuela in 1967. So two separate stories of underground tunnels were now possibly linked. Still, Moricz apparently found the hill system independently from Tatunca in Ecuador - and Tatunca was searching in Brazil.
Is the implied message that the Brazilian’s “1979 confirmation” should always carry parentheses and that we should no longer believe in the stories of Tatunca and Moricz - were they indeed conmen and did both Brugger and von Däniken (and Schmid) fall for their lies?
Cuzco, Plaza de Armas,
the central square of Cuzco
Akakor, Akahim and Akakis remain undiscovered - though on occasion the Internet is abuzz with the sound of rumors and unclear photographs.
But we note that Tatunca also spoke of Cuzco and Macchu Picchu. And it is in Cuzco that - totally unexpected - confirmation about the existence of a network of tunnels came. The man responsible for this is Javier Sierra, now best known as the author of the novel “The Secret Supper”.
He noted that at the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1533, several items of tremendous importance were hidden, including a solar disc, which has never been found since. It was labeled the “Treasure of Inca King Atahualpa”.
Rumors had it that it was secreted away in tunnels. This rumor was linked with stories about a tunnel leading from the Coricancha Temple - the main Temple of the Sun in Cuzco - and exiting near Sacsayhuaman, the fortress that towers above the city.
This exit was known as Chinkana
Grande (Big Cave - though it is also the Quechuan word for
“labyrinth”), which seems to be nothing more than a big hole a few
meters deep. In 1989, archaeologist Fernando Jimenez del Oso
tried to film the entrance of the cave, but failed in his efforts
due to the narrowness of the opening and the rubble inside. But…
In the 17th century, an effort was made to find the treasure supposedly hidden underneath the Inca capital.
After a team spent several days underground - “somewhere underground” - only one person came out alive. He emerged from an opening under the main altar of the church of Santo Domingo, the site of the Coricancha. Most importantly, the survivor brought with him an ear of corm made of solid gold.
He stated that when witnessing these treasures, he could hear the clock of the Cathedral of Cuzco ringing above.
It seems everyone in Cuzco was walking on gold, without knowing it.
Interior corridor of the ancient Temple of the sun,
now part of the
Convent of Santo Domingo, Cuzco
Javier Sierra worked with Vicente Paris, who drew a hypothetical line on a satellite map: he noted that the Coricancha, the convent of Santa Catalina, San Cristobal church and Sacsayhuaman were aligned; the tunnel would thus run perfectly straight.
They decided to undertake some work in 1993 to confirm the ancient accounts and their new hypothesis. They chose the main altar of Santo Domingo, to check whether an opening was indeed present there.
Father Benigno Gamarra, abbot of the Convent of Santo Domingo, confirmed:
Like Moricz, this person was thus claiming that the underground network extended for “hundreds of miles”.
Still, there was - no doubt unexpectedly - a problem: the main altar entrance to the underground system was partially closed after the earthquakes that hit the city in 1950. When work was carried out to strengthen the foundation of the church, a UNESCO report catalogued four crypts in the monastery. One Spanish explorer Anselm Pi Rambla claimed that he had entered the structure in 1982.
They also became convinced that the stated tunnel had a special function:
Gamarra added that the original walls of the Coricancha had been excavated. He found out that there was a stream originating in the main square, running to the old walls of the Coricancha, under the church.
To him, it showed that a natural passage connected the various structures.
The project revealed that,
The fourth crypt that had been
identified by UNESCO, but had since “disappeared”.
In 2005, Grist wrote:
Grist is not alone in his chase: Stanley Hall is chasing it too.
A Scotsman from Edinburgh, he created a document that was, according to Grist, apparently “secretly presented” to the Ecuadorian Congress in July 1997. This document lays out secret, never before revealed information about the contents of the "Cueva de los Tayos".
The origin of this information dates from when Hall was the leader of an Ecuadorian-British expedition in 1976.
Copy of the letter of
Stanley Hall to the Ecuadorian government
To his credibility, Hall can show that he knew Moricz in 1975 and that the following year, he took this expedition to the caves - an expedition which included the First Man on the Moon Neil Armstrong.
Hall claims that when Moricz died in 1991, he met with the mysterious missing person in the story, alluded to by Moricz though not by name.
During six years of questions and collaboration, Ecuadorian citizen Petronio Jaramillo A. was accepted by Hall as the true source and custodian of the treasure story.
The story, as usual, had an unhappy ending: In 1998, when Hall was in Britain initiating the plan for an official 'expedition of occupation', he received by telephone the sad news from the mother of Petronio that he had been assassinated. It meant that no members of the original expedition remained available as guides to enter the reputed miracle location.
In Cuzco, they have materialized. Elsewhere, they remain tall tales. Since the 1970s, the Amazon has become much more open to the world and parts where Brugger had great difficulty in getting to, are now less so. At the same time, did Tatunca merely drive Brugger in the jungle, knowing they would at some point hit an obstacle, which would necessitate their return home? The same cannot be said of Moricz.
He may have been a teller of tall tales, but seems to have definitely shown something to von Däniken and afterwards was always on the defensive. Still, even if a tremendous treasure lies hidden in the Ecuadorian cave - and this would make a monumental discovery in itself - can we truly assume that a network of thousands of kilometers of underground caves truly exists?
And whereas an underground network of caves in Cuzco is logical and not out of the ordinary, no evidence has been found they continue for hundreds of miles.
But it is equally clear that something
is out there… and we are only slowly able to reclaim it.