|Chavín (Archaeological Site)*|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
The ruins of Chavín de Huántar
|Region**||Latin America and the Caribbean|
|Inscription||1985 (9th Session)|
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Chavín de Huántar is an archaeological site containing ruins and artifacts originally constructed by the Chavín, a pre-Inca culture, around 900 BC. The site is located 250 kilometers (160 mi) north of Lima, Peru, at an elevation of 3,150 meters (10,300 ft), east of the Cordillera Blanca at the start of the Conchucos Valley. Chavín de Huántar has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the Chavín relics from this archaeological site are on display in the Museo de la Nación in Lima.
Chavín de Huántar was initially built around 900 BC. While the fairly large population was based on an agricultural economy, the city's location at the headwaters of the Marañón River, between the coast and the jungle, made it an ideal location for the dissemination and collection of both ideas and material goods. This archeological site is a large ceremonial center that has revealed a great deal about the Chavín culture. Chavín de Huántar served as a gathering place for people of the region to come together and worship. The transformation of the center into a valley-dominating monument had a complex effect; it became a pan-regional place of importance, such that being at Chavin de Huantar had value in itself: for witnessing ritual, consulting an oracle, or entering a cult.
Findings at Chavín de Huántar indicate that social instability and upheaval began to occur between 500 and 300 BC, at the same time that the larger Chavín civilization began to decline. Large ceremonial sites were abandoned, some unfinished, and were replaced by villages and agricultural land. At Chavín de Huántar, no later than 500 BC, a small village replaced the Circular Plaza. The plaza was occupied by a succession of groups, and building stones and stone carvings were salvaged for use in house walls. Multiple occupation floors indicate the village was continuously occupied through the 1940s.
The Chavin civilization was centered on the site of Chavin de Huantar, the religious center of the Chavin people. The temple is a massive flat-topped pyramid surrounded by lower platforms. It is a U-shaped plaza with a sunken circular court in the center. The inside of the temple walls are decorated with sculptures and carvings. Chavin de Huantar consists of two parts, the old and new temples. The old temple was built around 900 BC and the new temple was added around 400 BC. Chavin de Hunatar was used as a religious center for ceremonies and events. It has also been suggested to have been a home for oracles. The site contains a number of major structures, including Temples A, B, and C, and areas and buildings designated as the Circular Plaza, the Old Temple and New Temple.
The architectural design of Chavín de Huántar changed over time through an old temple development into a new temple, although it is much more complex than one major renovation stage as this progression suggests the development would occur. Smaller renovations happened consistently over the Chavín horizon ending by about 500 BC when the new temple was completed. With the simpler design of the old temple, Chavín de Huántar followed the U-shaped ceremonial center design accompanied by a sunken circular plaza. After the new temple was complete, Chavín de Huántar still embodied a U-shaped ceremonial center design. Although the two phases may sound like the site remained similar, the renovations enlarged the site considerably and a larger sunken rectangular plaza was added. The main objective of the renovations would appear to be based in the idea of allowing more people to gather in one place as the site in general expanded.
Excavation of burial sites gave evidence of a small elite class whose tombs contained elaborate burial goods, consisting of precious metals, colorful textiles, and other valuables. Most burials were simpler, with bodies interred in shallow pits with cotton clothing and a simple tool kit.
Local style in art and decoration included scrolls, simple curves, straight lines, and images of wild animals. Chavín sculpture is usually of white granite and black limestone. Carved stone mortars and pestles, conch-shell trumpets, bone tubes and spatulas, and metal spatulas and spoons were found decorated in Chavín style as were various textiles including tapestries. Pottery was found in a wide variety of forms, including bottles and bowls, decorated with a wider range of distinctive elements.
This site holds a large amount of geographical and religious significance which may be one of the reasons why the location was used as a large ceremonial center and a center of power for the Chavín culture. Chavín de Huántar is located north of modern day Lima at the merging of two rivers: the Mosna river and the Huanchecsa river. As a result this is site allows for easy transportation and, at the same time, limited access to outsiders. Chavín de Huántar itself is located on a lowland valley where the two rivers merge and high altitude valleys are located nearby. Consequently, the people at Chavín de Huántar were able to cultivate lowland crops such as maize and high altitude crops such as potatoes. The people were also domesticating llamas in the high altitude areas for food and as a means to carrying heavy loads on the steep slopes of the hills.
The religious significance of Chavín de Huántar depends upon the geography of the site. The merging of two large rivers has shown religious significance in past cultures, and thus it makes sense that the location of Chavín de Huántar was utilized as a religious ceremonial center. The convergence of two rivers is referred to as tinkuy, which can be defined as the harmonious meeting of opposing forces. It has been suggested that Chavin de Huantar served as the meeting place of the natural and cosmic forces The area is known to have natural hot springs as well as an awe-inspiring view of the Huantsan peak which could both add to religious significance of the site.
"stabilizing primary monuments, repairing underground structures, documenting the site with high precision instruments, locating underground structures with non-intrusive technologies, revealing, assessing and when appropriate removing post-Chavín structures to reveal original architecture; cataloguing (sic) artifacts, and improving site interpretation facilities, while the local community is engaged through conservation and craft training, employment, tourism entrepreneurship and regular consultations regarding the management of the site and its environs."
|Pre-Columbian Civilizations and Cultures|
|Americas||Paleo-Indians · Archaeology of the Americas · Indigenous American Genetics · Indigenous peoples of the Americas|
|North America||North American pre-Columbian cultures|
|Mesoamerica||Mesoamerican pre-Columbian chronology – Capacha – Chichimeca – Cholula – Coclé – Epi-Olmec – Huastec – Izapa – Mixtec – Olmec – Pipil – Shaft tomb tradition&Teuchitlan – Tarascan – Teotihuacan – Tlatilco – Toltec – Totonac – Veracruz – Xochipala – Zapotec|
|South America||South American Indigenous people – pre-Columbian chronology – Cañaris – Chachapoya – Chancay – Chavín – Chimu – El Abra – Hydraulic culture of mounds (Bolivia) – Las Vegas – Lima – La Tolita (Tumaco) – Manteño-Guancavilca – Mapuche – Moche – Mollo – Muisca (Chibchas) – Nariño – Nazca – Norte Chico – Quimbaya – San Agustin – Shuar – Sican – Taino – Tairona – Tiwanaku – Tierradentro – Valdivia – Wari|
|The Aztec Empire||The Maya civilization||The Inca Empire
|Language||Nahuatl language||Mayan languages||Quechua|
|Writing||Aztec writing||Mayan writing||Quipu|
|Religion||Aztec religion||Maya religion||Inca religion|
|Mythology||Aztec mythology||Maya mythology||Inca mythology|
|Calendar||Aztec calendar||Maya calendar|
|Society||Aztec society||Maya society||Inca society|
|Infrastructure||Chinampas||Maya architecture||Inca architecture (road
|History||Aztec history||Inca history|
|Pacal the Great
|Conquest||Spanish conquest of
the Aztec Empire
|Spanish conquest of
(Francisco de Montejo)
Spanish conquest of Guatemala
(Pedro de Alvarado)
|Spanish conquest of the
|Portal:Indigenous peoples of North America – Columbian exchange – Mesoamerican writing systems – Native American cuisine – Native American pottery – Population history of American indigenous peoples – Pre-Columbian art – Painting in the Americas before Colonization|
Chavín de Huántar is an archaeological site from the pre-Incan Chavin culture of around 900BC containing ruins and other artefacts. The site is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The access point for trips to Chavin de Huántar is Huaraz, 3 hours away - on poorly maintained, unpaved road, clinging to the side of a mountain. From Huaraz' bus station there are occasional public buses, but most travelers choose opt to take the easier option, and go with one of the numerous tour groups offering a Chavin itinerary.
Several buses to destinations further afield does stop at Chavin around midnight, but then you'll need to have accommodation sorted out ahead.
Another option is to go for a beautiful 3 day hike, on a Inca trail, between Olleros (south of Huaraz) and Chavin, but make sure you hire a guide, from one of the many tour agencies.
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