Lost City of Gold: Mystery Investigator, Discovery UK, Monday 7th June, 10pm 6Jun10

Exploring the mystery of El Dorado — its very name has has become synonymous with a legend of a mythical city of gold lost in the wilds of South America. For hundreds of years explorers have mounted expeditions to find it… and as strange as it seems, I am a strong believer that there is lots still to be found… large chunks of unmapped, unexplored regions of the Amazon and the Andes, makes it technically possible.. and we actually find something new to add to the debate… From the golden churches of the Incan capital Cusco, we follow the trail of El Dorado (aka Paititi) along a road of ruins deep into the remote Andes Mountains….

More Video links:
Inca Bridges
Lost Inca Road
Conquisador Gold Theft
Inca Master Builders
Coca Leaf Pit stop

Dispatch: Could a lost city still be out there waiting to be found? Read why I think so….

Could a lost city still be out there waiting to be found?

The Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1532, lead by Francisco Pizarro – 182 men, mainly independent freeloaders and mercenaries, motivated by the greed for gold and carrying out their invasion in the name of God and the Crown. They set about ripping out the golden heart of the Inca monuments described in part by Ciezo de Leon:
“In of the one of the houses, which was the richest, there was the figure of the sun, very large and made of gold, very expensively worked and enriched with many precious stones. They also had a garden, the clods of which were made of pieces of fine gold, and it was artificially sown with golden maize, the stalks as well as the leaves and cobs, being of that metal…”

The Spanish famously kidnapped the Inca Atahualpa and ransomed him, unsurprisingly for gold – the Inca bought gold from across the empire, including Prince Choqe Auki. En route, he heard that Pizarro hadn’t kept to his end of the bargain and had strangled Atahualpa. Legend has it, he hotfooted it through Calca, Lores, Choque, and Kancho Lago with 200,000 llamas with gold and Inca treasures. The Spanish went after him but never found him, nor his gold. Whether this is true or based on legend, we don’t know; but it is just part of the origin of the mystery of a lost city of gold. What we do know is that the Spanish stole so much gold that it altered the whole European economic system.

A Peruvian economist Virgilio Rool tallied up the value of the gold and silver they stole (what the Inca called the ‘Sweat of the Sun’ and ‘The tears of the moon’), estimated the destruction and damage they inflicted, and reckoned it to be around $600billion. He lodged a demand for compensation with the Spanish government who instead replied with an offering to upkeep the Spanish churches – a deliberately tactless move I imagine, as in the eyes of some locals and others, the churches are seen as monuments to the genocide the Spanish carried out in the name of God. Whilst this figure of $600billion may seem high at first, it cannot of course come close to compensating for the cultural and moral damage inflicted upon the Andean people and the effect that this has even today. Whilst it’s true the Conquistadors did not intend to kill so many people (two thirds were unintentionally killed by smallpox brought in by the Spanish that the Andean people had no immunity to), and I’m not one to be an apologist for the Inca (who were not the most savoury crowd in history), what occurred was simply genocide motivated by the greed of gold. Sadly it seems we have not learned these lessons of history as the idea of raping a country of its wealth, often killing its inhabitants for the benefits of others, continues.

Gold was not in short supply and even to this day, the Andes and the Amazon are mined for gold. During our expedition up in the high Andes, we saw countless streams of white quartz, one of the key indicators of gold. Since the initial invasion, The Spanish, British and others have mounted expeditions in search of into the unmapped regions of South America usually motivated by one of a number of factors: 1) searching for routes to the south seas; 2) Hope of finding hidden kingdoms of fabulous wealth (El Dorado, Patiti, City of Z (the latter made famous by British Explorer Percy Fawcett of which a film is scheduled for release this year starring Brad Pitt); 3) Hope of discovering mineral deposits or fertile land for settlement. For centuries explorers have believed there could be a lost city of the Inca, El Dorado, Patiti, City of Z or whatever else you may call it, but is it is nothing more than a metaphor for hidden wealth rather than a real place?

There are still large chunks of the Amazon and high Andes that remain unmapped and largely unexplored by the outside world, so is it not possible that within these unchartered areas, there could still be something waiting to be found? Machu Pichu is still the most famous lost city to be found recently, and that was only discovered (or revealed to the outside world, as presumably the locals always new it was there) in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. The amusing, and oft-neglected part of this tale, is that he only spent a few hours at the site when he discovered it, took some pictures, made a rough sketch map, jotted down a few laconic lines in his journal, only afforded the site 7lines in his expedition report (whilst writing 2 pages on some old bones he found in a glacier) and took a year to return to it. Bingham was actually looking for Hatun Villacamba, the lost city of the Inca and he was initially convinced Machu Pichu wasn’t it. But Machu Pichu is not alone and the great Inca sites of Gran Pajaten and Espiritu Pampa (Vilacamba – rediscovered in 1964) should be considered among the pantheon of important archaeological discoveries in the 20th Century. But history continues to be revealing itself.

In the last few months, explorers using satellite technology have detected giant mounds over 155 miles, that seem to point to a sophisticated pre-Columbian culture near Brazil’s border with Bolivia (read more). These rediscoveries at the very least should stimulate the possibility that more sites, and possibly cities remain hidden.


Read here for a discussion on this dispatch and questions raised and answered

Further Research on previous expeditions in search of El Dorado and Paititi (and some more questions previously posed and answered)

More Video links:
Inca Bridges
Lost Inca Road
Conquisador Gold Theft
Inca Master Builders
Coca Leaf Pit stop

13 Responses to “Lost City of Gold: Mystery Investigator, Discovery UK, Monday 7th June, 10pm”

  1. Venus Day Says:

    Hey Olly – Did you get a new umbrella/brolley this year for Christmas or do you still use the same one from the show? Like I you, I used to traipse all over the world – maybe not to solve mysteries but helping folks through my work or my foundation. Then I got really sick, abandoned at a hospital, and on my own recovering ever since. I caught your first episode while I was flat on my back and feeling awfully low, and got inspired. Decided to start back up writing about people and places (my first love, and actually just got a new job doing it) and taking photos, not modeling again, but trying to capture moments with the camera. Anyhoo – thanks for being an inspiration. AND if you ever need a sidekick for comedy relief – I have a knack for the bizarre situation or two – or maybe some slight ineptitude for finding the easy solution. Maybe you should hold a contest like Bear… :-) Thanks for all the episodes! Those of us seaching for new adventures ourselves, salute you. PS – saw a clip of you on Youtube ignoring a man dancing with his llama on a train in Peru by keeping your head fixed on your laptop watching your own show. Ha! I guess I would too…

  2. Ashley Knibb Says:


    Good work fella ! The mysterious cities of gold eh ! Personally I beleive they are out there, maybe not in the form that we have been lead to believe, but perhaps a kind of Inca Fort Knox!

    Perhaps its location it harder to find as you wouldn’t rightly advertise the location with the usual visual representations. Perhaps some kind of development built into a mountain side or hidded deep underground.

    I know this doesn’t exactly fit the bill of the Inca and their usual representation of their gold, but whos not to say they got wise !

    Anyways I look forward to catching the show tonight.

    Keep up the good work, you are indeed an inspiration and I am gonna step my work in the paranormal up a notch because of it.

    Check out my website and online show at http://www.farsightfiles.co.uk, sorry had to plug !


  3. Ashley Knibb Says:

    Good show Olly!

    From the looks of things a return visit is in order on this one to further follow that road!

    Where do I sign up lol!


  4. Anonymous Says:

    How are you not married when you are a perfectly handsome man with a wonderful personality? Just curious! ; )

  5. Michael Says:

    Hi Olly!!

    I am a great fan of yours!
    Do you have like an apprenticeship or something?
    I can work as your cameraman for less than half of
    what they are getting paid for :)

    very interested in the opportunity to join you in
    your investigations!


  6. Amanda Says:

    Hi olly!!
    I’m very excited for the sucess of your show over in the UK! Just wanted to let you know, I am now a writer and photographer for a teen newspaper in Miami called Teenlink that is run by a Florida newspaper, the Sun Sentinal! It’s my new claim to fame, I can us my journalistic skills and I get paid, which is not half bad! Also, I’m leaving for Europe on Monday and I’m going to London, could you maybe point out some good resturants or secret local hangouts? I’m going with my history teacher, the one who made us watch your show for an assignment, she doesn’t like to consider herself a tourist, she hates tourists. :D thanks for all the tips!!

  7. Ben Jennings Says:

    I have to admit that before seeing your programme on Discovery I didn’t know much about what you did, but now my 7 year old daughter & I are both completely rivited to the sofa when your programe comes on, I love learning about new things, and find the idea of going exploring a dream that I will most definatly follow. & as my children are home schooled it is something that we will do as a family.
    I just wanted to say thank you for bringing archaeology & exploring to the young generation.

    My daughter & I are both big fans.

    if you ever get a chance to email please do.

  8. Reena Says:

    Hi Olly,

    Hope you had a great time in Asia, when you get a chance please post all the press you had there.
    DC was advertising the DVD for your show which was to be released in August so I thought I would buy it now.
    To my surprise I could not find your show until I looked at past show. Can you please find out why they would put your show in past shows.
    I am hoping the reason why they did that is because your show is being shown everywhere now and they did not want
    to give away the episodes in advance.
    For next season the DC should have the same type of PR they had in Asia, an ideal you can give them. I have to admit it would weird to see you in person but hey weirder things have happened.
    Enjoy the ride of Solving History for a long time to come.

    Wishing all health, happiness, love & wealth.

  9. Tan Says:

    Hi, Olly
    Hope you doing well and have load of fun in Asia. Just check-in to see if you post any pictures from all the travel you did lately, but on your gallery, you do not have any picture post it at all. I mean, none, not even one picture of you in it. Just want to let youn know; don’t know if you are aware that all you pictures has disappear from you gallery. Anyway, don’t forget to fill us in, we in the US do miss your show and of cause we miss you too. Take care and stay safe, Tan

  10. Severin Endresen Says:

    High Olly when are going to tell the story about how Winston Churchill wanted to donate my part of Norway, nothern Norway, to Stalin. You should realy make program about it . You know the dictator who killed more Jews than Hitler. You`re fat ass pill eating, brandy suckling primeminister who thought the japanese had airplanes made of paper was a rasist and came from the most rasist country in europe. slaves, slave trade does it ring a bell? Make a show about that. You make one mans insane idea, seem to be a answer to all SS soldiers and officers. Trough is rasist ideals were sweeping europe in that era, you even had one walking Britain. Please don`t twist history.

  11. Kehrin Says:

    Wait, so you get all this way to see something that’s supposedly one of the greatest mysteries of all time, and you turn back because you ran out of clif bars?? I mean, I understand getting more supplies, watching out for the crew, absolutely. But at what moment in your exploratory zeal did you stop and think, well, I mean, we COULD go back but I diiiiid use up my whole hour… MAKE A SECOND TRIP!

    Honestly though I think the fact that you didn’t – and you’re clearly not the type to make such a shallow silly decision to walk away from something like that – is answer enough. The road probably led to another crest of another mountain and on and on and on until you end up having gone through the range and not found anything (which any video editor worth their salt could splice into an hour show), but that’s not good TV.

    Either way, I *did* enjoy the show immensely; just a little frustrated at the ‘cliffhanger’ that paid absolutely no compliment to the intellect of your loyal educated viewers. I’m sure the situation was out of your hands so I’ll just say thanks again – but even if the road only leads to an ancient port-o-potty, inquiring minds want to know!

  12. Phillip Anderson Says:

    Mr. Steeds,

    Have you ever heard of the Lost Adams Diggings? It’s supposed to be one of the biggest mysteries in northern America where a man named Adams went with over 20 other men to find a small canyon full of gold and were led by a young Mexican boy they called Gotch Ear who they paid him with gold coins, horses and a rifle to take the men to the canyon which is a true story. I followed a writer who claimed he found the canyon and the coffee pot full of gold nuggets I discovered he used to purchase 300 gold mining claims then he seems to have vanished shortly afterwards leaving behind a website he paid for ten years in advance that discribes his journey and betrayals and shows the map of the Sno Ta Hay Canyon where the expidition of the 20 men were all masacred by Chief Nana and his warriors. This really is a very amazing story and the canyon is supposed to be an actual burial grounds for Apache Chiefs going back over a thousand years and may be the burial location of some of the most recent chiefs. The term Sno Ta Hay means Chiefs buried under this place. Well I found this place after many years of my own research and it looks as though there are a burial mounds and very interesting earth works that even look as though there were unearthed burial chambers that eroded over time in the burial mounds. The writer I mentioned made the website http://www.lostadamsdiggings.com and shows his research and map he found in Army records of the surgeon who saved his life the map of the canyon. I found this place and am wondering if you are interested in checking it out. I am afraid to go to the canyon myself without other people and plenty of communication devices besides maybe a camera crew, but this place according to legend has the biggest gold viens ever found buried under rubble after a large earthquake that was recorded took place burying the gold viens that are supposed to be the largest in the world by far. I’ll be more than happy to show you the location if you can allow me to be part of any expidition or at least give me some credit for finding this place. Or at least contact me and we can work something simple out. Once you see the maps I have compaired to the one Adams drew to give to the surgeon you will see there is no doubt the place I found is in fact the LAD, Canyon Del Oro, Sno Ta Hay canyon. I would like to see whatever gold may still be there used to preserve this place legally so others can learn from the horrors that went on in this place over the years. It’s said even the earliest Spanish Explorers may have found this place but vanished after being attacked by the Natives as the LAD expidition crew was as well. Please let me know one way or another. Thanks, Phil Anderson lovefishn@hotmail.com

  13. Ian Says:

    There was a cliffhanger at the end because they probably did find the city of gold. They are probably excavating it at the moment which could take years and when thats all complete they will show it off to the world.

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