It is November 15, 1532...at Cajamarca, Peru. Atahualpa, leader of the Incans, and his army of eighty thousand warriers are facing Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish explorer, and his army of 169 men.
Despite the vast difference in armed strength, Pizarro defeated and captured Atahualpa, sending the latter's army running away in fright. The difference: Pizarro had firearms and a calvary involving 69 horses.
In captivity, Atahualpa offered a ransom to the Spaniards: Enough gold to fill his rectangualar cell (23 foot by 16 feet) as high as he could reach (which on tiptoes was 9 feet)....plus, enough silver to fill the cell twice within the next two months.
Your Task: What would be the value of this ransom in terms of today's market value for gold and silver?
Note: The standard gold bar found in bank vaults and traded by dealers has a volume of 722 cm3 and a weight of 12.4 kg. The standard silver bar (assume of same volume) has a weight of 1.81 kg.
To end the story, Pizarro and the Spaniards first accepted Atahualpa's offer, but then declined...and tried him on made-up charges then sentenced him to death (by garrotting).
Source: Adapted from Reader's Digest Book of Facts, 1987, p. 29.