Pre-Inca ruins abound!
22.08.2008 - 29.08.2008 23 °C
After our trek in Huaraz, Josh and I felt the need for a little culture -pre-incan culture that is! Boy, did we get what we asked for!
First, we took another long night bus to Trujillo. Trujillo is one of the richest cities in Peru so the hotel prices reflected that. We pounded the streets for a while until we found a place that was not TOO grungy and within our price range. Because the night buses arrive so early in the morning, by 10am we were showered and ready to explore. We hopped a local bus to some HUGE near-by ruins called Chan Chan. Chan Chan was a large adobe city that was inhabited by the Chimu people who occupied the northern shores of Peru from about 850-1470 AD. Most of the city now just looks like huge piles of sand but archeologists have worked hard to uncover the palace section of Chan Chan. Because the Chimus lived in a desert close to the ocean, they relied VERY heavily on the sea for life. This is obvious in their artwork. The walls of the palace are decorated with carved reliefs of fish, pelicans and other sea birds, octopi and fishing nets. The was very different from inca ruins that we have seen,
mostly because the incas did not seem to decorate their walls much.
The next day we hopped on another local bus (always an adventure) to the Huaca de la Luna. This is another huge archeological site, but this time from the Moche peoples who lived from about 200 BC-850 AD. The Huaca de la Luna was suspected to be a temple. The Moche worshipped first and foremost a creature called the be-header. To appease their god, they frequently performed ritual be-headings. These were illustrated clearly in their wall paintings and on pottery. Prisoners were tied up and led into the main square of the temple. The priest would cut their throats and a priestess would catch the blood. The priest would then show the blood to the crowd and drink it. All very brutal and grapically depicted in the artwork. I guess their be-headings didn't appease the god enough because they were all eventually wiped out, most likely by an el niño. The temple construction was quite interesting. It was built in an inverted pyramid form and every 80-100 years the people would built a whole new, bigger and better, temple on top of the old one. They would replicate almost the same artwork each time. In some places, the different layers were exposed so you could compare the older temples with the newer ones. On the same site, there was also a huge pyramid called the Huaca del sol as well as a Moche village but we could not look at them closely as they are still being uncoverd. The sand moves in quickly in a desert.
After Trujillo, we headed to Chiclayo. Chiclayo is home to the richest scientific discovery ever made. In another former Moche settlement, they discovered many tombs near a huge pyradmidal structure. Some had been plundered by grave robbers but some remained uncovered. Most contained pottery, gold and silver but the tomb of a King held the motherload. There was so much gold and other riches in his tomb that the weight actually pulverised his bones. He was also burried with three women, his army general, a boy, a dog, two be-headed llamas and two men to act as guardians to the tomb (their feet were amputated so they couldn't run away). The next day, we went to the museum where most of the artifacts found in the tombs are held. The intricate decorations were amazing! My favourite was a necklace made of big, gold and silver peanuts!
Because we still hadn't gotten our fill of old, crumbly ruins, we headed to Chachapoyas -further inland and into the jungle. Here we got to explore a village, high on a hill top that belonged to the Chacha peoples. They were eventually conquered by the Incas but in turn, helped the Spanish fight the Incas later on. The Chachas built their houses of stone and they all had a circular shape. Each house also had a low, hallow stone wall running through it where they raised guinea pigs for dinner.
The next day we hiked to the Gocta waterfall. It is thought to be the third highest waterfall in the world at over 700m. There wasn't much water volume, so that nearly all that reached the bottom was mist.
All three towns were an archaeologists dream! They were pretty cool for two science geeks too...