Who Stole the Gold? Part 3: Blow Smoke and Look the Other Way…
This is the thrilling conclusion to the investigation on the true mystery regarding the Tayos Caves – what has happened to the pure, prestigious, and lustrous golden ore?
Stanley Hall: Have Gun Will Travel
Based on the telegram in part two of this investigation, we know that British explorer Stanley Hall was as interested in mining for gold as Móricz. Móricz and Hall were organizing an expedition to the Tayos Caves together, but after squabbling about who would be in command and who would have exclusive rights to any discoveries, Móricz withdrew from the business partnership, and Hall became the head of the largest expedition to enter the Tayos Caves, the famous joint British-Ecuadorian expedition of 1976. The expedition included more than 120 people and penetrated more than 16 km (9.94 miles) into the Caves. According to Hall himself (p. 42), sixty-five British soldiers and scientists arrived in Quito on July 1, 1976 and joined up “with an equally large group of national and international scientists and Ecuadorian military personnel . . . amid a public outcry over the secrecy surrounding the operation.” According to D. Golding, Hall thought a joint operation would allow the explorers to “apply for a different permit while still maintaining the title deed to any discovered artifacts.” We should ask what the presence of armed soldiers on an archaeological/mining expedition suggests about the true nature of this operation. We should also note that the expedition was supported by one “Puma” helicopter, one “Alouette” helicopter, and one military “Arava” airplane.
Left to right, contemporary versions of the Puma, Alouette, and Arava aircraft. Photo credits: forcesmilitary.blogspot.com, nehandaradio.com, and airliners.net.
What did Stanley Hall’s expedition find in the Tayos Caves? According to Ancientalienpedia, “the expedition found no treasure and no trace of anything that looked like the artifacts in Father Crespi’s collection.” However, they “did find a tomb chamber with items dating to 1500 BCE.” More credibly, Guillermo Aguirre reports that the 1976 expedition encountered several anthropomorphic ceramic figures in the Caves’ interior, which were “brought to Quito by the delegation from the Archeological Research Center of the Catholic University of Ecuador,” under the direction of Father Josefino Pedro Porras Garcés. In a video interview made by the Spanish investigator, Jaime Eduardo Rodríguez Tanguay, Hall holds up a photograph of a necklace and identifies it as one of the pieces taken from the Tayos Caves under the direction of Father Porras. (See photo below.) Hall also confirms that the expedition found a skeleton dating to 1500 BC. Hall also adds that PUCE Professor Patricio Moncayo Echeverría has additional photos of artifacts taken from the Tayos Caves.
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Necklace of unknown material taken from the Tayos Caves now in the PUCE collection, according to Stanley Hall. Photo credit: Jaime Eduardo Rodríguez Tanguay (2011).
There is one more piece of evidence indicating that Stanley Hall found and retained something very valuable from the Tayos Caves. Numerous investigators have reported that the Stanley Hall expedition left the area with several sealed wooden crates. Zavalla’s biography of Crespi indicates that between seven and eleven boxes with either “artifacts from the cave” or with “unknown contents even until today” were originally packed, and that four final boxes were taken away. Zavalla cites an article called “Middle of the World,” written by Pablo Villarrubia Mauso, that details the following: “Finally, the expedition took from the Ecuadorian jungle four sealed, wooden boxes that they did not permit the Shuar Indians to open, who then felt deceived and cheated.” The Villarrubia article continues, “It seems that the boxes contained archeological remains consisting of figurines and small plates of great value to the Indians.” The video, The Tayos Cave and the Vatican Conspiracy corroborates this story, indicating that Gerardo Peña Matheus, Móricz long-time lawyer, stated in 2015 that, “The 1976 expedition took out 4 sealed wooden boxes out of the caves: the Shuar protested and were shot at by Ecuadorian and British soldiers.” According to Rosario de Aurora, interviewed in the same Tayos Cave video, the expedition “carried off four enormous wooden boxes packed with all manner of objects, which the Shuar tried to repossess from the Ecuadorian and English soldiers, and that tangle ended literally with the soldiers firing shots at the indigenous people.”
Guillermo Aguirre remains mum on the final deposition of any artifacts from the 1976 expedition to the Tayos Caves. However, he relates the following interesting commentary (bolding is mine):
“The entrance to the Cave by which the British expedition in 1976 would enter was sealed by the Ecuadorian government, despite the fact that they say that it has been broken into [. . . ] Julio [Goyén] thought there was no way for one to reach the inner chambers, and much less to take out any object whatsoever. The guardians—whoever they are or whether they even exist—have known how to preserve their secrets . . . And, on the other hand, there’s no way to buy off the Shuar. The despoiling of any material goods and their ancestral mandate to preserve what was given to them in custody, would impede any attempt to carry such a thing out.”
On the basis of this statement, as well as our prior review of the Shuars’ autonomous rights to their territory, we are on firm ground to classify any removal whatsoever of objects from the Tayos Caves as looting. It is true that in 1968 Juan Móricz sought and obtained a permit in the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana (Cultural Center of Ecuador), signed by one Fernando Tinajero, to carry out “archeological investigations” in Ecuador. However, the Shuar were never consulted regarding this permit. Hence the guns.
Photo credit: ProtectEcuador.org (2012-2013)
As a final note, in the interview recorded by Rodríguez, Hall denies that the 1976 expedition took away four boxes, reasoning that, since he was surrounded and escorted by armed members of the Ecuadorian special forces, that would have been impossible. However, if the Ecuadorian military were in on the looting, such reasoning fails to hold up. And that brings us to the final suspect: shadowy accessories to the crime that we can loosely identify as the Ecuadorian armed forces or government, perhaps acting on behalf of other interested private parties.
“I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends”
The Ecuadorian as well as the Argentine and British militaries were clearly involved in logistics and support operations for both the Juan Móricz (1969) and Stanley Hall (1976) expeditions, including the use of helicopters. There is no proof that Crespi had military contacts, although Ancient Origins reports a rumor that some of the Crespi collection may have been sold to military personnel. Nor is there any evidence that military personnel were recipients of any archeological objects or mining products removed from the caves. However, it is very clear that the Ecuadorian military had direct knowledge of what was going on during these operations, and they would be a good source for further inquiries.
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This investigation can establish that the the Ecuadorian military maintained reconnaissance operations in the region surrounding the Tayos Caves. Guillermo Aguirre reports that Coronel Victor Proaño from the military base in Macas, capital of Morona Santiago, found an entrance to the Caves. After that, military personnel from that base carried out “subsequent expeditions of their own personal initiative.” Sources, such as Skeptoid, that trace the mythological components of the Tayos mystery to rumors spread by Pedro Jaramillo should note that Jaramillo served in the military in this region, eventually rising to the rank of captain.
After Móricz’ deal with the Mormons fell through, he solicited military support to complete his third expedition. In a letter sent to Coronel Carlos Zavalla from the Continental Hotel in Guayaquil, dated May 26, 1968, Móricz states he had contacted the Major General of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, and that they “express great interest in organizing an expedition to the Caves,” which was subsequently undertaken. According to Aguirre, the 1969 Móricz expedition included members of the Ecuadorian Department of Defense and Communications, including Capt. Carlos Guerrero Guerrón, and Second Lt. Ortiz. Móricz also maintained contact with the head of the military zone in Cuenca, General Antonio Moral, who commanded the expedition troops involved in jungle operations. General Carlos María Zavalla, a retired Argentine officer and member of Argentina’s intelligence services, was also informed about the expedition. A Corporal Guevarra is also mentioned. The 1976 Hall expedition included General Bolívar López Herrmann, Major Francisco Sampedro V. of the Office of History and Geography of the Department of Defense, several military reporters, and Lt. Ortiz. Again, nothing more specific can be said here in regards to their operations.
Ecuadorian Special Forces at the Cave Site. (bibliotecapleyades.net)
In regard to the fact that the Shuar attribute the helicopters to neither Hall nor Móricz but to Crespi, this investigation suggests that the Shuar may have confused the protagonists of this story, and that further details should be requested from them regarding their account of the Tayos robberies.
The Fog of Time
Gold is the hidden subtext of the Tayos mystery, but what about to the more fabulous elements of this story? Many investigators, such as Manuel Palacios Villavicencio, are still perpetuating the rumors about golden tablets with ancient inscriptions, underground giants who lived in subterranean chambers, and especially lost civilizations with roots in the Americas, and they are using Móricz’ linguistic claims to defend their opinions. This investigation, therefore, will briefly analyze Móricz’ claims that the Tayos Caves were linked to evidence proving that the ancestors of the Magyar people were indigenous Americans.
In his book, The American Origin of the European People, Móricz states, “in Ecuador – as elsewhere in the Americas – the Cayapos, JIbaro-Shuar, Tshachis [sic], Saragurus, Salasakas, and others speak a version of the old Magyar tongue, that place-name and dialects of Ecuador, although many have been eroded by acculturalization, or eliminated by force, are numerous.” In addition to the Magyars, or Hungarians, Móricz also claimed that the Sumerians are descendants of ancient Americans, equating the name “Sumer” with “Zumer, Shumir, Sumir, and Zhumir,” place names he claims are from the Azuay, Cañar, and Loja Provinces of Ecuador.
There are numerous problems with this type of linguistic analysis. First, place name comparison is an extremely weak form of evidence to prove linguistic affinity. Second, Móricz is comparing ancient Magyar with contemporary indigenous language, thus denying that indigenous languages have evolved over time. Third, Móricz ignores the grammatical structure of languages in his claims, and fails to compare commonly used words, which are the ones that are most likely to show relationship.
Móricz is also coy about his assertions. As Guillermo Aguirre relates, Móricz passed through the Tsáchila territory around 1965, accompanied by Corporal Juan Pérez. He supposedly “exchanged a mutually understandable greeting in Magyar” with the Tsáchilas—but this greeting is never recorded.
Indigenous languages of Ecuador’s Orient (Amazon region). Photo credit: Santiago Ortega Haboud (2008)
Móricz claims are sketchy, at best. Magyar is an agglutinative language mostly using affixes. It has noun declension, with up to 35 case endings, depending on the noun. Its neutral word order is SVO (subject-verb-object). In comparison, for example, Shuar has no noun declension, and its preferred word order is SOV (subject-object-verb). Shuar uses suffixes to express person, number, and tense. Magyar is classified as a Finno-Ugric language, and Shuar is in the Chicham language family. Here is a comparison of number words between Magyar and other language that Móricz claimed are related to it:
Words for numbers are some of the common words most likely to show linguistic affinity; think of the word for “one” in various Romance languages. Clearly these languages are not only not related to Magyar, they are not related to each other! To this counter-evidence, we can add the fact that DNA testing shows no relationship whatsoever between the Magyars and the Shuar or Tsáchilas.
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There is the possibility that Móricz, overtaken by a spirit of enthusiasm and nationalism, actually believed his claims. Therefore, it is worthwhile to analyze the origins of Móricz’ claims. Julio Goyén noted that Móricz was influenced by several Hungarian scholars, including Ferenc Csérep, author of The Ancestral Patrimony of the Magyars is Amerika ( A Magyarság öshazája Amerika). However, Csérep’s theory was so discredited by fellow Hungarian scholars that he was expelled from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Another influence, according to Aguirre via Goyén, was Florencio de Basaldúa y Elordigoytiá, an Argentine-Basque engineer and historian. Basaldúa believed that the “red race” are the descendants of the sunken continent of Lemuria, as documented in his work, Statement on the Red Race in Universal History, and Prehistory and History of the Indigenous Civilization of Amerika and of its Destruction by the Barbarians of the East. To corroborate these beliefs, Móricz nitpicked evidence from the colonial literature of the Americas. For example, in his The America Origin, Móricz refers to a vowel shift (“o” to “u”) identified by Juan de Velasco, author of Modern History of the Kingdom of Quito and Chronicle of the Province of the Society of Jesus in that Kingdom ( Historia Moderna del Reyno de Quito y Crónica de la Provincia de la Compañía de Jesús del mismo Reyno). He also refers to Origin of the Indians of the New World and West Indies ( Origen de los indios de el Nuevo Mundo e Indias Occidentales), a work by Gregorio García published in 1607, noting that García says that the “Scythians” populated the West Indies—a long stretch for explaining Magyar (Skythian?) connections to indigenous Ecuadorians! A more careful reading of Garcia’s work shows that García also claimed that the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Chinese, and 12 Hebrew tribes, among others, populated the Americas!
Conclusion: Blow Smoke and Look the Other Way
So what do we make of the strange stories revolving around the Tayos Caves: the fabled library of metal tablets, the convoluted linguistic puzzle, and the ancient underground civilization? This investigation concludes that they were nothing more than an elaborate and impromptu smokescreen to justify the archaeological looting and illegal mining activities whose real purpose was the acquisition of gold. These strange tales served two important purposes: 1) to distract attention from the real intentions of Crespi, Hall, and Móricz; and 2) to attract necessary funds and logistical support to undertake difficult expeditions in remote, undeveloped territory. Hall’s and Móricz’ stories inflamed the curiosity and pride of Ecuadorians; extravagant claims justified extreme measures.
As for Crespi, he was clearly dealing in commerce of antiquities. He may well have acquired gold artifacts at some point in his collection efforts. And as for the Shuar, they have both a legal and customary right to any gold in any form, and for any other resources and/or artifacts, taken from the Tayos Caves, and they are rightfully outraged about the injustice of any robberies committed.
View of the Pastaza River from a hill at Tayu Jee. Photo credit: the author (2016)
Top Image: A corridor in the Tayos Caves. Source: MezzoforteF/CC BY SA 3.0
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