The Intriguing Pambamarca Archaeological Project

The Pambamarca Archaeological Project involves ongoing exploration and excavation of the Pambamarca Fortress Complex located at a height of close to 12,000 feet on the ridges and peaks of the extinct Pambamarca stratovolcano in Ecuador. This is one of Ecuador’s richest cultural landscapes from a prehistoric, historic and contemporary culture perspective. The project involves an international team of researchers and is backed by the government of Ecuador with an emphasis on conservation and prospects for future eco and cultural tourism.

The size and stature of the ancient fortresses at Pambamarca are a clear indication that the ruins represent a significant time period in Andean history. It has been established that the expansion of the Inca Empire came to a standstill in the Pambamarca region when the Incas were faced with societies of Northern Ecuador that fiercely resisted them for more than fifteen years. A period of Inca rule followed their victory over the Ecuadorian resisters, during which time the Incas constructed and occupied fortified settlements in the area.

It is not yet known why or how the resisters were overcome by the Incas and this is a facet of the Pambamarca Archaeological Project that is receiving much attention. It is hoped that discoveries at Pambamarca will give insight into the nature of domination and resistance along the northern border of the mighty Inca Empire. It is believed that this insight will be very beneficial in gaining a deeper understanding of imperial and colonial processes in the ancient world.

The pre-Inca settlements in the area also form part of the project, as well as the design and construction methods of the fortresses themselves and the road systems leading to and from the site, as well as within the region. These are all relevant to reconstructing a complete picture of ancient life in and a round Pambamarca. It is anticipated that the results of the research will contribute to the application to have the Pambamarca Pre-Columbian Fortress Complex moved from the tentative list, where it is currently recorded, to the permanent list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Certainly, as more and more of the history and culture of the area of Pambamarca unfolds, it is apparent that archaeologists today are playing an important role in bringing to light the past that has shaped the beautiful and mysterious country of Ecuador.