Quintoloma – Incan Empire Fortresses

The history of the Incan Empire has long intrigued historians and archeologists, with fascinating aspects of their rise and fall still being discovered today. The latest discovery has been a series of Incan fortresses along an extinct volcano in Ecuador, believed to date back some five centuries. Archeologists working on the site, named Quintoloma, have concluded that there are up to twenty Incan fortresses forming a frontier from which they defended their territory and launched attacks on the forts of the Ecuadorian Cayambe people, located at a site now known as Pambamarca.

Evidence suggests that these battles took place in pre-Columbian times, lending credence to Spanish folklore that tells stories of conflict between the Incans and the Cayambes at the time the Spanish were exploring , and conquering, South America during the 16th and 17th centuries. According to a book called History of the Inca Empire, written by 17th century Spanish missionary Bernabe CoboIncan, Incan emperor Huayna Capac attempted to conquer the Cayambe using a very powerful army. With the Cayambe being hopelessly outnumbered, Huayna Capa anticipated a quick victory. But the Cayambes withdrew into their large, virtually impenetrable, fortress and the battle dragged on for seventeen years before the Incas withdrew. Determined to conquer the Cayambes, the Incas engaged them in battle numerous times, eventually succeeding in forcing them out of their fortress stronghold and onto the shores of the lake, where they were mercilessly slaughtered.

The Quintoloma Incan fortresses are constructed out of stone and located around 3,000 meters above ground, allowing a panoramic view of the surrounding area. There are around one hundred structures to accommodate the Incas who had lived there, and the amount of weaponry found within the structures indicates that they were well prepared for battle. In comparison, the two Cayambe forts are much larger and constructed from volcanic rock. There is evidence that people lived both inside the fortresses and outside its walls.

Discoveries in the area have led researchers to question the popular belief that the Cayambes were annihilated by the Incas. It seems that they may have reached a truce and cooperated with one another to an extent against the invading Spanish. Much of the indigenous population died as a result of smallpox carried into the area by the invaders. The Incas retreated to Vilcabamba and were conquered by the Spanish in 1572, while the Cayambe became their slaves. Researchers believe that there are still more discoveries to be made in the wilderness areas of Ecuador and it remains to be seen what these will reveal about the history of this fascinating South American country.