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Borderland: Tunnels of the Titans - Vincent Gaddis
TUNNELS OF THE TITANS
By Vincent H. Gaddis
Where were the tunnels of the ancient megalithic master builders? Where
was the City of the Seven Caves?
Throughout all the Americas there are legends of archaic avenues,
racial memories of subteerranean passages stretching for miles. After
a great cataclysm the ancestral Amerinds lived in the vast cavern
complex until it was safe to return to the upper world. The story is
spread through many tribes from the kivas to the Pueblos to the lodges
of the Blackfeet, from the hogans of the west to the capfires of the
eastern woodland tribes before their dispersion.
To the Hopi this is the fourth world. Thrice the world on the
surface has been ravbaged while the Hopi escaped by living with the ant
people (ant totem) in an underworld beneath the ground. (1)
The Mandans of the northwestern states, some of whom had blue eyes
and silky hair, were almost wiped out by smallpox in 1830 with the
survivors being forcibly incorporated into the Rickaree tribe. Their
legend was linked with the Great Deluge. They said the first men to
emerge from the tunnels were the Histoppa or the "tattooed ones."
Having left safety too soon, they perished. The rest, who remained
below, waited unitl a bright light dispelled the darkness on the
surface. They found that the destruction was over, but the world above
was uninhabited. Each spring the Mandans had a dance celebrating their
deliverance from the flood.
The Apaches have a legend that their remote ancestors came from a
large island in the eastern sea where there were great buildings and
ports for ships. The Fire Dragon arose, and their ancestors had to
flee to mountians far to the south. Later they were forced to take
refuge in immense and ancient tunnels through which they wandered for
yearts, carrying seeds and fruit plants.
But it is in the south, in Central and especially South America,
that the tales of underground passageways and caverns are the most
widespread. Myths say that the Votans, who came from the east, were
kings of the snake (totem) people, a people of the Great Cataclyysm,
who through tremendous Atlantean tunnels journeyed to Central America
in a very remote time. (2)
"Before the time of the Great Flood," say the Zapotec sages of old
Mexico, "we lived in cave-cities. Our forefathers came out of the
caves of the Underworld where it was crowded. They came out by
trivbes, each led by the spirit of its own animal-totem."
"Our people long ago came through the places of the cavernous
openings," said the quippos readers of the Incas.
It is in the south that we have the legend of Chichomoztoc, the
City of the Seven Caves, but this city cannot be definitely identified
with any known city or ruin. And there too are the legends that
various ruined cities--Tiahuanaco, Campeche, Palenque and others--are
far more extensively built underground than upoon the surface. (3)
In the sixteenth century in Peru came Don Francisco Pizarro and
his greed-crazed conquistadores. They seized Atahualpha, last of the
Inca emperors of the sun, and promised to release him upon receivedng a
ransom--gold that would fill a room seventeen by twenty feet, and nine
feet in height. It is estimated that this ransom consisted of 600 tons
of gold and jewels. While awaiting this ransom the Spaniards busied
themselves stripping the gold-plating and water pipes from the Cuzco
The gold flowed into the capital city, arriving by caravans from
throughout the empire. Dazzled by the ever-growing display of
boundless wealth, Pizarro demanded to know the source. Rumors reached
him that the Incas possessed a secret and seemingly inexhaustible mine,
or enormous depository, which lay in a vast subterranean tunnel,
running many miles beneath the imperial dominions.
Soon gold filled the treasure room to the specified level, but
Pizarro refused to release Atahualpha. He announced that if he were
not given the secret of the gold's origin, he would take the emporor's
life. Since Pizarro had broken his first promise, the Inca queen
decided to consult the oracles of the priests of the sun. By this
mystical means, she learned that whether the secret was given to
Pizarro or not, the emperor was doomed. Orders were issued. Under the
directions of the hight priests, tunnel entrances were sealed and
hidden from view.
Beneath the brilliant light of a great comet that gleamed in the
southern skies, the empire of the sun came to its tragic end.
atahualpha was stangled and his queen committed suicide. As news of
the emperor's death spread throughout the empire, caravans en route to
Cuzco with treasure for their ruler's ransom stopped and quickly
concealed their burdens. Today these lost Inca hoards lie in forests,
on lake bottoms, beneath piles of earth and rocks in canyons below the
high cordilleras. They are hidden in fortress vaults, under hills and
sealed in caves.
But the greater treasure, the secret place that Pizarro vainly
sought, acording to legend, is in the strange subterranean tunnels,
thousands of years old, that lie locked in the earth. Only a few
decades after the conquest, Cieza de Leon wrote: "If, when the
Spaniards entered Cuzco they had not...so soon executed their cruelty
in putting Atahualpha to death, I do not know how may great ships would
have been required to bring such treasures to old spain, as is now lost
in the bowells of the earth and will remain so because those who buried
it are now dead." (4)
The Quichua Indians of today are the direct descendants of the
Incas of old, a gentle, quiet people with melancholy eyes.
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