Satellite Dispatch 9/13/96 Artifacts Found on Top!
Written and Photographed By Liesl Clark
As if an offering had been made to us by the mountain, several female-shawl pins have
been found on Sara Sara's summit. They are strewn on the surface,
most likely revealed by the melting snow. "This is a sure sign that
Sara Sara was a significant ritual site for the Inca," says Reinhard. "There is
now little doubt in my mind that sacrificial mummies are buried here." It has
been 13 years since Johan Reinhard climbed Sara Sara and found evidence of Inca
sacrifices up here. Now, having returned with a full archaeological team, he
hopes to uncover the mysteries buried on this high peak.
Summit Camp is Established
After a 3,000 foot vertical ascent from Base Camp, Johan Reinhard, Jose Antonio
Chavez, and their archaeological team have established the high summit camp on
Sara Sara. Just 30 minutes' walk from the sacrificial Inca platforms where the
excavation will begin, the camp sits on rock rubble just out of the wind.
BBC/NOVA cameraman Edgar Boyles "it's
always astounding arriving at a summit to see the incredible expanse before you
and to look out hundreds of miles in all directions. I can see some storm
clouds and lightning off to the east. Trying to imagine the idea of an Inca
ceremonial procession ariving at this place some 500 years ago is mind
boggling. This is certainly one of the truly sacred places on earth. Boyles is a veteran climber, but even so the danger is always there. Says Boyles, "I
brought a Tibetan prayer flag to fly from the summit pinnacle in memory of a
climbing cameraman, Jonathan Wright, who was killed some years before, on
another sacred mountain."
The summit is covered with snow and the sacred sites
will have to be dug out before the excavation begins. As loads continue to be carried up from Base Camp to supply the summit camp,
Johan and Jose Antonio begin plotting out the excavation plan.
Read all about the process of high altitude archaeology and learn more about
the shawl pins when we receive our next satellite transmission from the summit
of Sara Sara!