Sarmiento de Gamboa and the Atlantic Island




Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa (1532-1592) author of the  "History of the Incas" is equally as colourful a character as the myths he reproduces. Considered one of the most outstanding personalities of the Spanish 16th century, he was a navigator, cosmographer, mathematician, soldier, historian and scholar of classical languages well versed in Plato's Atlantis which he mentions in detail in his account of the History of the Incas.

   In 1555 he arrived in America where he was subjected to the Inquisition on account of his scientific and astrological activities. In 1567 he discovered the Solomon Islands, an archipelago in the Western Pacific.  In 1569 he was ordered by Don Francisco de Toledo, Viceroy of Peru to write a compendium of the customs, daily life and political organization of the Incas which became his "History of the Incas" and which was sent to Philip II of Spain  from Cuzco in 1572.

   He fortified the Strait of Magellan as a defence against Francis Drake, founded two cities, was captured by the English on his way home to Spain, ransomed then recaptured by Hugonauts and finally disappeared with the squadron carrying him to New Spain.


   Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa considered the world to be divided into five parts. The first three parts were the three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe. The fourth part was Catigara, an "extensive land in the Indian Ocean now distinct from Asia being separated by the Strait of Malacca." The fifth part was called "The Atlantic Island" which exceeded all the others and "is the land of these western Indies of Castile."

   He goes on to mention the name of the continent as "the floating islands which they afterwards called the Atlanticas, (editor’s note: spelled as Atlanticus by Gamboa).

 and now the Western Indies of Castile or America", bearing in mind that he is writing shortly after the "discovery" or rediscovery of the great continent and the name "America" was not then as firmly established as it is today.

   It is clear that he thought of Atlantis as a continent beginning immediately to the west of Spain and which continued west and included what is now South America, with the sunken part being between Brasil and Cadiz. He deduced this based upon the statement that Atlantis was "larger than Africa and Asia combined" so he figured Atlantis measured 2,300 leagues in width. Subtracting 1,000 leagues for the distance from Cadiz to Brasil, he concluded that Atlantis "includes from Brasil to the South Sea which is today called America."


    So his account of the "History of the Incas", begins with a history and substantial overview of Atlantis, or "the Atlanticas", which he considers to be the original name of the continent lately called America and on which the Incas are located.


As a mathematician, astrologer and navigator who was also a scholar of classical languages he also had a clear idea of when the missing part of Atlantis disappeared.


"debió suceder en el tiempo que Aod gobernaba el pueblo de Israel 1320 años antes de Cristo. Según todas las crónicas Solón fué en el tiempo de el rey Tarquinio Prisco de Roma, siendo Josias rey de Israel o Jerusalén, antes de Cristo 610 años. Y desde esta plática hasta que los Atlánticos habían puesto cerco sobre los Atenienses, habían pasado 9000 años lunares, que referidos a los solares suman 869 años. Y todo junto es la suma dicha arriba."


This according to Sarmiento de Gamboa took place "when Aod governed Israel in 1320BC." "According to all the chronicles Solon lived in the time of King Tarquinius Priscus, King of Rome, Josiah being King of Israel at Jerusalem in 610BC. And from this period to the time when the Atlanteans put the blockade upon the Athenians was 9,000 lunar years, which referring to solar years comes to 869 years. And both added together is the aforementioned date."

   i.e. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa specifically spells out 1320BC as being the date for the end of Atlantis using a calendar of lunar months and I am completely surprised that of all the many investigators and Academics who have studied the subject, none to my knowledge has picked up on this before. In fact, Gamboa does not even discuss the possibility that Plato might really mean 9,000 solar years since it is so obvious to him that lunar years are intended and I think it is important to give him credit as an astronomer and classical historian who, living in the Renaissance age, knew the difference between solar and lunar years and what was intended in Plato's text.


Sarmiento de Gamboa was also of the opinion that "Ulysses after Troy sailed West to Portugal then to the West Indies, Yucatan and Campeche, the territory of New Spain leaving vestiges of Greek culture in clothing and vocabulary.  Therefore the territories of New Spain were first colonised by Greeks, those of Catigara by Jews, while those of the rich and powerful kingdoms of Peru were colonized by Atlanteans who themselves first of all came from Mesopotamian or Chaldea, populators of the World."  This later interpretation of the origins of the people of Peru being from Atlantis is also based upon his deduction that "South America" and  "Atlantis" were one continuous island.



   Sarmiento de Gamboa took great pains to record as faithfully as possible the original stories given to him by the indigenous people and noted how the Incas themselves had a tradition of oral historians whose job it was to faithfully remember their Histories as well as some painted records which were kept in a sacred temple in Cuzco, the Poquen-cancha.


   We must remember though his motivation. In the time of Emperor Charles V, some doubt was cast on the Spanish titles to these lands since it was considered the Inca "were and are the true and natural lords of this kingdom of Peru."

     It seems Sarmiento de Gamboa sought to justify for Philip II the acquisition of these conquered lands and he views the Inca rulers as upstart tyrants who seized the valley of Cuzco and all the rest of the territory from Quito to Chile by force of arms, making themselves Inca overlords without the consent or election of the natives. Moreover, the fact that the Inca indulged in human sacrifices, in Sarmiento de Gamboa's eyes gave the Spanish an indisputable right to the territories, bearing in mind also the theological issues of the time and whether in Spanish eyes, natives had any rights at all.


   But considering that Sarmiento de Gamboa also defined America as Atlantis it may seem strange that his book ever got published at all. In fact the original manuscript was lost and its existence only known about through examination of correspondence between Sarmiento de Gamboa and Phillip II.

   An inventory of all manuscripts existing in public libraries was ordered by the German government at the end of the 19th century and the original manuscript finally found in the University of Gottingen (Germany) in 1893 and first published in 1906.





History of the Incas






 Plato said that in Atlantis the first kings were born in pairs.


    "He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children; and dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions, he gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother's dwelling and the surrounding allotment, which was the largest and best, and made him king over the rest; the others he made princes, and gave them rule over many men, and a large territory. And he named them all; the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic."


    We have already mentioned Tunupa as the Aymara god of the sea, water, lakes and rivers and the "Bolivian" equivalent of Poseidon.

   We should mention also the Inca or Quechua name for this deity which was originally Pachacamac, Creator of the Universe, "earth maker" originally from Yungas also known as Viracocha or Wiracocha in Quechua, like Poseidon a friend and teacher of mankind.

   So, Poseidon was the Greek name for Tunupa, also known as Pachacamac or Viracocha, god of the seas, metallurgist, friend and benefactor to mankind.

   Just as in Greek mythology the god of the sky hurling thunderbolts was Zeus, in Andean mythology – in the version of the "Legend of the Desaguadero" published by the University of La Paz, this position was occupied by Kon, god of wind and rain also known as Kjuni. Tunupa or Pachacamac walks amongst the people to try and dissuade them from their evil ways and it is Kon or Kjuni who punishes them and destroys their city just like Zeus in the Atlantis legend. He is said to have destroyed a race of giants in a great flood before mankind existed.

   But then Viracocha is also said to have destroyed a race of giants in a great flood before mankind existed.

   When it comes to the Andean pantheon the picture is somewhat confusing due to the differing names for the same deities and the versions that existed at different epochs and in different places. It is difficult therefore to give a definitive version but the following account, from "History of the Incas" written by Spanish historian Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa and translated by Sir Clements Markham K.C.B. of Cambridge (The Hakluyt Society 1907 pp22-59) is fascinating in itself.


THE NATIVES OF THIS LAND affirm that in the beginning, and before this world was created, there was a being called Viracocha. He created a dark world without sun, moon or stars. Owing to this creation he was named Viracocha Pachayachachi, which means "Creator of all things." And when he had created the world he formed a race of giants of disproportioned greatness painted and sculptured, to see whether it would be well to make real men of that size. He then created men in his likeness as they are now; and they lived in darkness.

   Viracocha ordered these people that they should live without quarrelling, and that they should know and serve him. He gave them a certain precept which they were to observe on pain of being confounded if they should break it. They kept this precept for some time, but it is not mentioned what it was. But as there arose among them the vices of pride and covetousness, they transgressed the precept of Viracocha Pachayachachi and falling, through this sin, under his indignation, he confounded and cursed them. Then some were turned into stones, others into other things, some were swallowed up by the earth, others by the sea, and over all there came a general flood which they call uñu pachacuti, which means "water that overturns the land." They say that it rained 60 days and nights, that it drowned all created things, and that there alone remained some vestiges of those who were turned into stones, as a memorial of the event, and as an example to posterity, in the edifices of Pucara, which are 60 leagues from Cuzco.

   Some of the nations, besides the Cuzcos, also say that a few were saved from this flood to leave descendants for a future age. Each nation has its special fable which is told by its people, of how their first ancestors were saved from the waters of the deluge.

    That the ideas they had in their blindness may be understood, I will insert only one, told by the nation of the Cañaris, a land of Quito and Tumibamba, 400 leagues from Cuzco and more.

   They say that in the time of the deluge called uñu pachacuti there was a mountain named Guasano in the province of Quito and near a town called Tumipampa. The natives still point it out. Up this mountain went two of the Cañaris named Ataorupagui and Cusicayo. As the waters increased the mountain kept rising and keeping above them in such a way that it was never covered by the waters of the flood. In this way the two Cañaris escaped. These two, who were brothers, when the waters abated after the flood, began to sow. One day when they had been at work, on returning to their hut, they found in it some small loaves of bread, and a jar of chicha, which is the beverage used in this country in place of wine, made of boiled maize. They did not know who had brought it, but they gave thanks to the Creator, eating and drinking of that provision. Next day the same thing happened. As they marvelled at this mystery, they were anxious to find out who brought the meals. So one day they hid themselves, to spy out the bringers of their food. While they were watching they saw two Cañari women preparing the victuals and putting them in the accustomed place. When about to depart the men tried to seize them, but they evaded their would-be captors and escaped. The Cañaris, seeing the mistake they had made in molesting those who had done them so much good, became sad and prayed to Viracocha for pardon for their sins, entreating him to let the women come back and give them the accustomed meals. The Creator granted their petition. The women came back and said to the Cañaris--"The Creator has thought it well that we should return to you, lest you should die of hunger." They brought them food. Then there was friendship between the women and the Cañari brothers, and one of the Cañari brothers had connexion with one of the women. Then, as the elder brother was drowned in a lake which was near, the survivor married one of the women, and had the other as a concubine. By them he had ten sons who formed two lineages of five each, and increasing in numbers they called one Hanansaya which is the same as to say the upper party, and the other Hurinsaya, or the lower party. From these all the Cañaris that now exist are descended.

   In the same way the other nations have fables of how some of their people were saved, from whom they trace their origin and descent. But the Incas and most of those of Cuzco, those among them who are believed to know most, do not say that anyone escaped from the flood, but that Viracocha began to create men afresh, as will be related further on. One thing is believed among all the nations of these parts, for they all speak generally and as well known of the general flood which they call uñu pachacuti. From this we may clearly understand that if, in these parts they have a tradition of the great flood, this great mass of the floating islands which they afterwards called the Atlanticas, and now the Indies of Castille, or America, must have begun to receive a population immediately after the flood, although, by their account, the details are different from those which the true Scriptures teach us. This must have been done by divine Providence, through the first people coming over the land of the Atlantic Island, which was joined to this, as has been already said. For as the natives, though barbarous, give reasons for their very ancient settlement, by recording the flood, there is no necessity for setting aside the Scriptures by quoting authorities to establish this origin. We now come to those who relate the events of the second age after the flood, which is the subject of the next chapter.



   IT IS RELATED that everything was destroyed in the flood called uñu pachacuti. It must now be known that Viracocha Pachayachachi, when he destroyed that land as has been already recounted, preserved three men, one of them named Taguapaca, that they might serve and help him in the creation of new people who had to be made in the second age after the deluge, which was done in this manner. The flood being passed and the land dry, Viracocha determined to people it a second time, and, to make it more perfect, he decided upon creating luminaries to give it light. With this object he went, with his servants, to a great lake in the Collao, in which there is an island called Titicaca, the meaning being "the rock of lead," of which we shall treat in the first part. Viracocha went to this island, and presently ordered that the sun, moon, and stars should come forth, and be set in the heavens to give light to the world, and it was so. They say that the moon was created brighter than the sun, which made the sun jealous at the time when they rose into the sky. So the sun threw over the moon's face a handful of ashes, which gave it the shaded colour it now presents. This frontier lake of Chucuito, in the territory of the Collao, is 57 leagues to the south of Cuzco. Viracocha gave various orders to his servants, but Taguapaca disobeyed the commands of Viracocha. So Viracocha was enraged against Taguapaca, and ordered the other two servants to take him, tie him hands and feet, and launch him in a balsa on the lake. This was done. Taguapaca was blaspheming against Viracocha for the way he was treated, and threatening that he would return and take vengeance, when he was carried by the water down the drain of the same lake, and was not seen again for a long time. This done, Viracocha made a sacred idol in that place, as a place for worship and as a sign of what he had there created.

   Leaving the island, he passed by the lake to the main land, taking with him the two servants who survived. He went to a place now called Tiahuanacu in the province of Collasuyu, and in this place he sculptured and designed on a great piece of stone, all the nations that he intended to create. This done, he ordered his two servants to charge their memories with the names of all tribes that he had depicted, and of the valleys and provinces where they were to come forth, which were those of the whole land. He ordered that each one should go by a different road, naming the tribes, and ordering them all to go forth and people the country. His servants, obeying the command of Viracocha, set out on their journey and work. One went by the mountain range or chain which they call the heights over the plains on the South Sea. The other went by the heights which overlook the wonderful mountain ranges which we call the Andes, situated to the east of the said sea. By these roads they went, saying with a loud voice "Oh you tribes and nations, hear and obey the order of Ticci Viracocha Pachayachachi, which commands you to go forth, and multiply and settle the land." Viracocha himself did the same along the road between those taken by his two servants, naming all the tribes and places by which he passed. At the sound of his voice every place obeyed, and people came forth, some from lakes, others from fountains, valleys, caves, trees, rocks and hills, spreading over the land and multiplying to form the nations which are to-day in Peru.

   Others affirm that this creation of Viracocha was made from the Titicaca site where, having originally formed some shapes of large strong men which seemed to him out of proportion, he made them again of his stature which was, as they say, the average height of men, and being made he gave them life. Thence they set out to people the land. As they spoke one language previous to starting, they built those edifices, the ruins of which may still be seen, before they set out. This was for the residence of Viracocha, their maker. After departing they varied their languages, noting the cries of wild beasts, insomuch that, coming across each other afterwards, those could not understand who had before been relations and neighbours.

   Whether it was in one way or the other, all agree that Viracocha was the creator of these people. They have the tradition that he was a man of medium height, white and dressed in a white robe like an alb secured round the waist, and that he carried a staff and a book in his hands.

   Returning to the subject of the fable, Viracocha continued his journey, working his miracles and instructing his created beings. In this way he reached the territory on the equinoctial line, where are now Puerto Viejo and Manta. Here he was joined by his servants. Intending to leave the land of Peru, he made a speech to those he had created, apprising them of the things that would happen. He told them that people would come, who would say that they were Viracocha their creator, and that they were not to believe them; but that in the time to come he would send his messengers who would protect and teach them. Having said this he went to sea with his two servants, and went travelling over the water as if it was land, without sinking. For they appeared like foam over the water, and the people, therefore, gave them the name of Viracocha which is the same as to say the grease or foam of the sea. At the end of some years after Viracocha departed, they say that Taguapaca, whom Viracocha ordered to be thrown into the lake of Titicaca in the Collao, as has already been related, came back and began, with others, to preach that he was Viracocha. Although at first the people were doubtful, they finally saw that it was false, and ridiculed them.


So the salient feature of this creation myth relevant to our story is that it names Viracocha as the creator of all things who created a race of giants at a time when there was no sun or moon. Then because the first people would not amend their ways being guilty of  "pride and covetousness" Viracocha destroyed them in a flood the  uñu pachacuti, or "water that overturns the land."

     It then goes on to describe the creation of a second race of men who became the present inhabitants and the creation of the sun and moon while Viracocha is the great teacher who wandered throughout South America until he finally disappears into the sunset over the ocean to the west.


    But here is an interesting detail. After the flood there emerges a survivor who ends up with a wife and a concubine from both of whom he has ten sons who form two lineages of five each. How many “co-incidences” does it take before people realise that these are not mere “co-incidences” but the original origins of Plato’s story, it would be impossible for Plato to invent, along with all the other geographic details, the specific details like Orichalcum and the 10 sons of Poseidon born in pairs then to find “just by co-incidence” orichalcum right here in the Andes and Viracocha also raising 10 sons in five pairs.


   In the above version, it is Taguapaca, one of the rebellious servants of  Viracocha who is tied and bound then cast adrift on a balsa in Lake Titicaca to be carried down the river Desaguadero and Taguapaca, or Tunupa as we otherwise know him makes a comeback, claiming to be Viracocha himself.

   Markham has this observation to make on Tunupa. "This servant of Viracocha is also mentioned by Cieza de Leon and Yamqui Pachacuti. Cieza appears to consider that Tuapaca was merely the name of Viracocha in the Collao. (The southern Altiplano). Yamqui Pachacuti gives the names Tarapaca and Tonapa and connects them with Viracocha. But he also uses the word Pachacca, a servant. These names are clearly the same as Tahuapaca of Sarmiento”.

   Sometimes Tunupa is said to be a son of Viracocha, or  to be Viracocha IV and with all these different versions of Andean history and mythology it is not surprising that Plato should have a slightly different version to the one above.


The next part of Gamboa’s treatise concerns the Inca creation myths...four brothers and sisters who claimed to be sent by Viracocha to "rule the world".

   They said that they were the sons of Viracocha Pachayachachi, the Creator, and that they had come forth out of certain windows to rule the rest of the people. Emerging from "the house of windows." they knew no father nor mother, beyond the story they told that they were created and came out of the said window by order of Ticci Viracocha, and they declared that Viracocha created them to be lords. For this reason they took the name of Inca, which is the same as lord. They took "Ccapac" as an additional name because they came out of the window "Ccapac-tocco," which means "rich," although afterwards they used this term to denote the chief lord over many.

   The names of the eight brethren were as follows: The eldest of the men, and the one with the most authority was named Manco Ccapac, the second Ayar Auca, the third Ayar Cachi, the fourth Ayar Uchu. Of the women the eldest was called Mama Occlo, the second Mama Huaco, the third Mama Ipacura, or, as others say, Mama Cura, the fourth Mama Raua.

   The eight brethren, called Incas, said--"We are born strong and wise, and with the people who will here join us, we shall be powerful. We will go forth from this place to seek fertile lands and when we find them we will subjugate the people and take the lands, making war on all those who do not receive us as their lords."


This being agreed upon between the eight, they began to move the people who lived near the hill, putting it to them that their reward would be to become rich and to receive the lands and estates of those who were conquered and subjugated. For these objects they moved ten tribes or ayllus, which means among these barbarians "lineages" or "parties".

   To be prepared for war they chose for their leaders Manco Ccapac and Mama Huaco, ......they divided the sites among themselves, and thus the city was peopled, and, from the heap of stones of Ayar Auca it was called Cuzco.

Another version talks of the Inca Manco Ccapac carrying a gold staff and leading ten ayllu (tribal or political units or clans) from the region of Lake Titicaca to Cuzco where testing the soil by plunging the staff into the ground, he henceforth carried out his foundation of the Inca empire. Again, like Plato's Atlantis, founded with ten lineages.

   Returning to the story of Viracocha, also formerly called Kon-Tiki, researchers such as Maria Rostworowski have identified four beings called "Viracocha", namely Viracocha I, sometimes called Pachayachachi (Maker of All Things); representing wisdom and world order he is also associated with the creation of water and navigation techniques. "Cocha" derives from the Quechua word "qucha" meaning lake, or sea and Viracocha is said to mean “spume of the sea” so it would surely be fair to translate Viracocha as Poseidon. In one legend his wife was Mama Cocha, the "sea mother" and patroness of sailors and fishermen, mother of Inti and Mama Quilla.

   Viracocha II, Imaymana Viracocha, is associated with plants’ medicinal properties as well as agricultural labor.

   Viracocha III, Tocapo, is seen as connected with textiles. Finally, Viracocha IV, Taguapaca or Tunupa is seen as responsible for the propagation of ocean beings, but he is also linked with disobedience and rebelliousness.


   In the second version of the origins of Viracocha, he is said to have emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca after a period of storms and floods when the earth was plunged into darkness and mankind nearly destroyed. He then went to the Island of the Sun from where he created the sun, moon and stars before continuing to Tiahuanacu where he fashioned men from stone before sending them off into the four corners of the world to re-populate the world.

   But in the earlier version of the origins of Viracocha, after the flood he saves two people of whom one dies and the other goes on to have 10 sons in two lineages so we have not only the original five pairs of twin sons mentioned earlier, but in the subsequent legend of the origins of the Incas we have also four pairs of brother-sisters or twin offspring, like Plato said, they were born in pairs

Insula Atlantica by Muller
Insula Atlantica (The Atlantic Island) by Sebastian Muller 1540

Atlantis Insula
Atlantis Insula by Guillermo Sanson 1661

Atlantis Island
The island opposite the Pillars of Hercules as photographed by NOAA, Google Earth.
Formerly known as the Atlantis Island, the Atlanticas or Atlantic Island, at one time called "the western Indies of Castile"
then latterly, "America".

Atlantic Island
Atlantic Island opposite the Pillars of Hercules

Atlantis Island Continent
Atlantis: the continent opposite the Pillars of Hercules

sailing to Atlantis
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