Cave of Tayos
The Cave of Tayos is a natural cave located on the eastern slopes of the Andes mountains in the Morona-Santiago province of Ecuador.
The cave was popularized by Erich von Daniken¹s 1973 book The Gold of the Gods, in which he wrote that Juan Moricz had claimed to have explored Cueva de los Tayos in 1969 and discovered mounds of gold, unusual sculptures and a metallic library. These items were said to be located within artificial tunnels that had been created by a lost civilization with help from extraterrestrial beings. Von Däniken had previously stirred public imagination by suggesting that extraterrestrials were involved in ancient civilizations in his popular book Chariots of the Gods?.
As a result of the claims published in von Däniken¹s book, an investigation of Cueva de los Tayos was organized by Stan Hall from Britain in 1976. One of the largest and most expensive cave explorations ever undertaken, the expedition included over a hundred people, including experts in a variety of fields, British and Ecuadorian military personnel, a film crew, and former astronaut Neil Armstrong. The team also included eight experienced British cavers who thoroughly explored the cave and conducted an accurate survey to produce a detailed map of the cave. There was no evidence of Von Däniken¹s more exotic claims, although some physical features of the cave did approximate his descriptions and some items of zoological, botanical and archaeological interest were found.
In the 20th century, a Roman Catholic missionary named Father Carlo Crespi helped the local Indians, the Shuar culture, who gave him some unique gifts that often took the form of elaborately carved artifacts some made of gold or other precious metals. Many of these artifacts feature elaborate carvings and symbols not know to be associated with the Shuar people. One of the presents was metal tablet with 36 symbols that no one could translate.
In 1991, an Ecuadorian manned named Patronio Jaramillo who claimed to have entered the cave through a secret entrance back in 1946 as a teenage boy. He claimed that he had to dive into the water, swim through an underwater tunnel then came up. He described wandering through chamber after chamber of ancient relics, including a vast room of books made from gold and other metals – books with unrecognizable writing possibly like those in Father Crespi’s collection – symbols of unknown origin. Jaramillo died before he could show anyone where the cave was located.