Category Archives: PERU

Archaeologists find a 3,000-year-old megalithic temple in Peru

Archaeologists find a 3,000-year-old megalithic temple in Peru

A 3,000-year-old megalithic ‘water cult’ temple used for fertility rituals has been discovered in Peru by a team of Peruvian archaeologists.

3000-year-old megalithic temple in Peru.

The religious monument is over 131ft long and is located in the springs of the Zaña Valley river about 500miles from Lima, the modern capital of Peru.

Inside the temple archaeologists found a square with an alter that was likely used to offer important fertility rituals with water taken from the Zaña Valley river.

It should be noted that this is the first megalithic temple made from large stones discovered in this area. It was situated between two rivers and joined together to give rise to the current Zaña River, which is currently dry most of the year.

A cult that worships water

As per the archaeologists, it is an interesting find as it is the only known megalithic architecture in the Lambayeque region, which is known for desert landscape as well as dry forests. Secondly, it’s built by the earliest “great religion of ancient Peru.”

It should be mentioned that the water cult, whose members used to worship the water, built this megalithic temple in an area where a new river rises as a kind of “territorial symbolism.”

Archaeologists from Peru, seen here, found stunning walls surrounding the monument as well as a central alter likely used for fertility rituals
The temple was discovered by Walter Alva – pictured – who also discovered the tomb of the Lord of Sipan in 1987 in northern Peru.
They found a staircase on the site that was 32ft wide and 49ft long

Edgar Bracamonte, an archaeologist with the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum in Peru and one of the researchers involved in this excavation program said that this ancient temple dates back 3,000 years, to the Formative period, which was generally seen as the beginning of about 2000 BCE and lasted until about 200 CE.

Ancient inhabitants used to predict rains

Bracamonte stated that the location of the temple, between the rivers and the presence of the surrounding “pocitos,” or small wells indicate that ancient inhabitants of this region used to predict rainy seasons.

In addition, he also mentioned that the location also shows the importance of water to the people of the Formative period, which is an era of spectacular social transformation marked by the development of social stratification and monument building.

The archaeologists revealed that the 3000-year-old temple was built by using different sizes of large, carved rocks, which were moved to the area from mountains located over three kilometers away. It is believed that the temple has been abandoned around 250 BC.

Used as a burial ground by Chumy people

Later, the site was used by Chumy people as a burial ground. Archaeologists found 20 tombs belonged to the Chumy people, while one belonged to a man buried during the Formative period. Bracamonte said that the adult male was buried with a ceramic bottle that had two spouts and a bridge handle.

Scientists found metal and ceramic objects in the graves discovered on the site – pictured here – however, most of the graves date from the later Inca period

Pre-Inca civilization

The team of archaeologists found that the megalithic temple was occupied in three stages, while the first stage is between 1500 BC and 800 BC, when people built the structure’s foundations from clay, the second stage is when the temple was built with influences from the pre-Inca civilization known as the Chavin, between 800 BC and 400 BC.

The third stage is when people added circular columns that were used to hold up the temple’s roof, between 400 BC and 100 BC.

City of Gold: The lost city of Paititi may be the Most Lucrative Historical Find

City of Gold: The lost city of Paititi may be the Most Lucrative Historical Find

Many explorers have died searching for Paititi: the Lost City of Gold and many became convinced that the city was hidden in the last undiscovered regions of the Amazon. The infamous journeys to discover Paititi was also what inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write “The Lost World.”

Much has been documented about the divine sense of quest to discover this magical kingdom. From treasure hunters to archaeologists and explorers, Paititi has until now remained the subject of lore and tribal legend spread through generations. But now, a remote location in the Peruvian Amazon thought to be the legendary Lost City has been discovered and is the target for a professional expedition taking place this summer.

Inca traditions mention a city, deep in the jungle and east of the Andes area of Cusco which could be the last Incan refuge following the Spanish Conquest. The Spanish conquistadors pillaged Cusco for its gold and silver, they only discovered a small amount of bounty in the capital, and the bulk of the mass treasure has never been found. Just recently a Spanish Galleon that sunk over 300 years ago, was discovered off the coast of Columbia and possibly holding billions of dollars worth of treasure looted from Peru.

Uncharted Incan terraces found at Choquecancha on a possible path to Paititi.

In 2001, Italian archaeologist Mario Polia discovered the report of a missionary named Andres Lopez in the Vatican archives. In the document, which dates from 1600, Lopez describes in great detail, a large city rich in gold, silver, and jewels, located in the middle of the tropical jungle called Paititi by the natives. Lopez informed the Pope about his discovery and the Vatican has kept Paititi’s location secret for decades.

Paititi: Last City Of The Incas

To understand the research, we must first know what Paititi is. Paititi is most commonly believed to be the last refuge of the Incas. After substantial research, scientists believe Paititi may have been home to the Chachapoyas, warriors and skilled builders ruled by the Incas in the north Cusco region.

Until the arrival of the Spaniards in South America in 1532, there was the Inca Empire , Tavantisuyu (“Four Corners” in Quechua), which was the most potent political structure on the continent. Governed from its capital, Cusco, it controlled vast areas covering parts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The Inca civilization , although very developed in political, administrative, and urban respects, lacked the use of horses, armor, and firearms for war. Armed with just bows and arrows, the Inca warriors were no match for Francisco Pizarro , the brutal Spanish conquistador. With only two hundred followers, Pizzaro was able to capture the Inca emperor, Atahualpa, and force his warriors to retreat. The remnants of Inca royalty escaped to Vilcabamba, situated in the jungle-covered lowlands northwest of Cusco.

But after a few decades, their small state fell, and the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru, was captured and executed. Thus, the final chapter of the Inca story came to an end. In the following centuries, the ruins of Vilcabamba and its whereabouts slipped into oblivion with the forest gaining the upper hand.

Meanwhile, various legends and testimonies began to appear, pointing to the existence of another significant undiscovered center of Incan civilization — Paititi.  According to some of the legends, it should be located in the wild, uncharted region northeast of Cusco. Over hundreds of years, many explorers have tried to find Paititi by exploring the region with old maps and accounts. However, the harsh environment, wildlife, and terrain have so far prevented any relevant discoveries regarding where Paititi actually is.

This is where Paititi Research is changing the game. Instead of blindly venturing into uncharted territory, we have first completed extensive research. This scientific approach to exploration is already yielding many positive results.

The Science Used To Narrow Down Where Paititi May Be Hidden

The difficult part about searching for Paititi is that the region is mostly uncharted, many parts of the terrain are impassible, and the vegetation is thick and obstructive. Due to these conditions, Paititi Research used remote sensing and geo-information systems (GIS) for their research. The first provides up-to-date information about the most inaccessible areas from artificial earth satellites. The second provides tools for the organization of data and a thorough geospatial analysis .

Based on specialized software, such as PostGIS, Earth Engine, and QGIS, Paititi Research created a multi-user GIS and a dedicated database that melted together all sorts of data concerning Paititi. It includes satellite and aerial images (e.g., GeoEye-1, RapidEye, and UAVSAR), old and modern maps, written and verbal testimonies, results of other expeditions, authentic documents, and legends. This conglomerate of information resulted in unprecedented outcomes and allowed Paititi Research to perform sophisticated geographic analyses. For example, the team assessed the morphometric characteristics of the terrain, modeled water flows, calculated incoming solar radiation, explored landscapes in 3D, etc. The analysis of all this data was essential in order to narrow down the area that could contain Paititi.

Creation of river network map in a target region using a digital elevation model (left) and georeferencing from old maps (right).

A map of the river network in the target region was crucial to finding Paititi. The literary sources, old maps, and verbal accounts mentioned rivers as landmarks. Therefore, to study and apply the information in these sources, a map with river names was needed. By using a digital elevation model (DEM), Paititi Research built a river network and labeled the river names. The screenshot above shows the process of georeferencing old maps with the distinct meanders of known rivers.

Another important feature needed in the maps was the morphometric relief characteristics of potential areas. Mountainous environments constrain movement, so settlements cannot be made on terrain with certain slopes. Several studies in the Alpine Region already confirmed this idea. Therefore, the surface steepness of ancient and modern settlements in the area of interest, such as the ruins of Vilcabamba and settlements in the valley of the Yavero River, were studied. It was found that all places that were settled had a slope grade of less than twenty degrees. This significantly reduced the areas that could contain Paititi.

In addition, a solar radiation map was also created. Areas with too little solar radiation are unfavorable for life. Therefore, Paititi Research created a solar radiation distribution map. The team used the radiation levels of modern settlements and existing ruins to narrow down the possible areas containing Paititi even further. To be able to interpret all of these maps better, Paititi Research used three-dimensional modeling.

Finally, from the maps discussed above, thematic maps were created. These maps include the Passability Map and the Settlement Suitability Map. The Passability Map was created using surface slope and tree density. This map shows areas where people can and cannot walk on foot and was used for planning the Paititi Research team’s expedition routes. Dark green areas in the map correspond to highly passable areas, while red means “impassable.”

Furthermore, Paititi Research created the Settlement Suitability Map using the slope steepness, and solar radiation maps explained earlier. This map shows flat and well-lit areas that are suitable for human activities which could contain Incan archaeological sites. The picture below demonstrates a Fragment of the Settlement Suitability Map in the area around Machu Picchu.

Fragment of the Settlement Suitability Map in the area around Machu Picchu.

As you can see, the famous Incan site is situated in a “green” zone, which means that the area is suitable. Red corresponds to highly unsuitable regions. The initial area of our research was approximately 1300 km 2 (502 square miles). After mapping settlement suitability, we reduced the research area dramatically. Focusing on highly suitable zones, the team studied high-resolution imagery in different spectral ranges: visible, near-infrared, and microwave. This revealed patterns and structures that were interpreted as potential archaeological sites. Some of them are indicated below. These three pictures cover the same area but highlight different aspects: multi-spectral optical image, settlement suitability map, and a radar image.

A single area highlighting three different aspects (from left to right): multi-spectral optical image; settlement suitability map; radar image.

Another exciting result of the Paititi Research team’s work was the Potential Inca Road Network map. Using terrain parameters, satellite imagery, and already known ruins and Inca trails, the team managed to reconstruct the ancient Inca road system for the region of their study. This map can also be explored and investigated for archaeological sites. The GIS screenshot below shows a fragment of the map with discovered Inca trails (continuous orange lines) and reconstructed paths (dashed lines), overlaid on a high-resolution satellite image.

A GIS screenshot showing a fragment of the map with discovered Inca trails (continuous orange lines) and reconstructed paths (dashed lines), overlaid on a high-resolution satellite image.

Paititi Research’s Expedition to Find The Lost Incan City

Since the beginning of 2017, Paititi Research has collected, analyzed, and evaluated a considerable amount of materials originating from their research. The team found some potential sites and considered six of them as Paititi Candidates. In June 2019, they organized a land expedition to obtain new information, refine the digital research model of Paititi, and examine their possibilities and equipment. The expedition started in Cusco, Peru. From Cusco the expedition team traveled to Choquecancha and finally, Rio Yavero. Throughout the journey, the team was faced with injuries, wildlife, and the harsh environment of the Andes. In Choquecancha, uncharted Incan terraces were found, shown earlier in this report, thus demonstrating that there are many Incan sites yet to be found.

The expedition route (left) and four of the expedition members (right).

As a result of this expedition, Paititi Research selected one of the six Paititi Candidates, on which they are now focusing all their efforts. To consolidate the outcomes of their research, the Paititi Research team is working on a paper for a peer-reviewed journal. At the same time, they are establishing relationships with Peruvian universities to get support for the final expedition, which will confirm or disprove their findings.

The Ancient Ruins On and Beneath the Sacred Lake Titicaca

The Ancient Ruins On and Beneath the Sacred Lake Titicaca

Marine archaeologists have discovered an ancient ceremonial site identified as exceptional in the Andes, recovering ritual offerings and the remains of slaughtered animals from a reef in the centre of Lake Titicaca.

The extraordinary haul points to a history of highly charged ceremonies in which the elite of the region’s Tiwanaku state boated out to the reef and sacrificed young llamas, seemingly decorated for death, and made offerings of gold and exquisite stone miniatures to a ray-faced deity, as incense billowed from pottery pumas.

The Kingdom of Tiwanaku emerged between the 5th and 12th Centuries A.D. in the Titicaca Lake Basin, near the border of modern Bolivia and Peru, and became one of the strongest and most powerful in the Andes.

Formed by a natural fault that divides the Andes into two mountain ranges, the basin is a unique ecosystem with an “inland sea” set 3,800m above sea level. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the basin was home to an estimated 1 million people.

Marine archaeologists decided to explore the Khoa reef after amateur divers found a number of ancient items at the site. The reef is submerged in more than 5m of water about 10km off the northwestern tip of the Island of the Sun, a central feature of Lake Titicaca.

The researchers excavated a trove of artefacts including a lapis lazuli puma figurine and other miniature stone animals, ceramic puma incense burners and gold ornaments including engraved sheets, a medallion, and an L-shaped piece marked with puma and condor silhouettes.

Perforated gold leaves still attached to fragments of leather may have been used to make ear tassels and another regalia to dress young llamas killed in the ancient ceremonies, the researchers believe.

Taken together, the items reveal how the lavish ceremonies displayed and disposed of the most prestigious materials that money could buy in the ancient Andean empire. Besides the gold and the carved and polished stones were spiny oyster shells from the warm waters off the Ecuadorian coast, nearly 2,000km away. They could only have been obtained through trade.

“What is great about these artefacts is that, beyond their beauty and the quality of manufacture, they were discovered in an undisturbed context,” said Christophe Delaere, a marine archaeologist at the University of Oxford and the Free University of Brussels.

“This is one of the advantages of underwater heritage. Lake Titicaca protects its ancient material culture from time and man. Never before have so many artefacts of this quality been discovered. The history that these objects tell us is exceptional.”

Found alongside the artefacts were llama bones and the remnants of burnt fish, the latter of which is thought to have been eaten during the ceremonies.

Carbon dating of charcoal and bones at the site found that the offerings were made throughout the 8th and 10th centuries AD, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The ancient offerings are not the first riches to be recovered from Lake Titicaca, but the exceptional quality and abundance of the items put the reef at the heart of the Tiwanaku people’s beliefs and ritual landscape.

One of the major questions surrounding the Tiwanaku state is how it expanded so effectively across the Titicaca basin in the first millennium. Charles Stanish, an anthropologist on the team from the University of South Florida, said that pilgrimages leading up to elaborate ceremonies were a crucial part of the state structure. Through ritual, religion and “supernatural punishers”, the state encouraged cooperation and deterred freeloaders and other rebels.

“What we’ve discovered in the Titicaca basin are pilgrimages and ritual processions and these are part of the state apparatus. As you participate in them you are reinforcing the power of the state,” Stanish said.

“Combined with what’s been found of other islands in the 1990s, the discovery of these items on the reef shows us there was probably a series of pilgrimages or precessions around the lake and I find that to be extremely exciting.”

More than a dozen Tiwanaku sites have been found on the Island of the Sun. One, near the north-west shore, is a puma-shaped ceremonial complex.

But from Khoa reef, those taking part in a water ceremony would have a panoramic view of the lake and the spectacular surrounding mountains. “It is not surprising that the Tiwanaku elite appropriated this space for costly and highly charged ceremonies,” the authors write.

“Ritual and religion were profoundly important in ancient states. It is not some new age-y thing,” said Stanish. “Ritual and religion structured people’s lives, it structured the economy and the whole of society. This is how these people were able to create spectacular ways to get along and have a very successful society.”

Archaeologists Find 5,500-year-old Plaza in Peru

Archaeologists Find 5,500-year-old Plaza in Peru

A team of German and Peruvian archaeologists says they have discovered the oldest known monument in Peru: a 5,500-year-old ceremonial plaza near Peru’s north-central coast. 

Carbon dating of material from the site revealed it was built between 3500 BC and 3000 BC, Peter Fuchs, a German archaeologist who headed the excavation team.

A circular plaza built 5,500 years ago has been discovered in Peru, and archaeologists involved in the dig, carbon dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas.

A circular plaza unearthed at the ruins of Sechin Bajo, 230 miles north of Lima, may have been a site for gatherings and ceremonies, archaeologists say.

“It’s an impressive find, the scientific and archaeology communities are very happy,” said Cesar Perez, the scientist at Peru’s National Institute of Culture who supervised the project. “This could redesign the history of the country.”

Prior to the discovery at Sechin Bajo, archaeologists considered the ancient Peruvian citadel of Caral to be one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, at about 5,000 years.

Scientists say Caral, located a few hour’s drives from Sechin Bajo, was one of six places in the world — along with Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, and Mesoamerica — where humans started living in cities five thousand years ago.

“The dating done by the German archaeologists puts it at about 5,500 years, but other parts could be older depending on what else is found,” Perez said.

Earlier finds near Sechin Bajo had been dated at 3,600 years.

“They had a highly-developed understanding of architecture and construction. This can clearly be seen in the fact that the materials they used survived for so long,” Peter Fuchs, one of the archaeologists, told the El Comercio newspaper.

The social gathering space that Fuchs and his colleagues found was built with rocks and adobe bricks.

Hundreds of archaeological sites cover Peru, and many ruins were built by cultures that preceded the powerful Incan empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century, just before Spanish conquerors arrived in what is now Peru.

Ancient city discovered deep in Amazonian rainforest linked to the legendary white-skinned Cloud People of Peru

Ancient city discovered deep in Amazonian rainforest linked to the legendary white-skinned Cloud People of Peru

A lost city discovered deep in the Amazon rainforest could unlock the secrets of a legendary tribe. Little is known about the Cloud People of Peru, an ancient, white-skinned civilization wiped out by disease and war in the 16th century.

An ancient Chachapoyas village located close to the area where the lost city was found

But now archaeologists have uncovered a fortified citadel in a remote mountainous area of Peru known for its isolated natural beauty. It is thought this settlement may finally help historians unlock the secrets of the ‘white warriors of the clouds’.

The tribe had white skin and blonde hair – features that intrigue historians, as there is no known European ancestry in the region, where most inhabitants are darker-skinned.

The citadel is tucked away in one of the most far-flung areas of the Amazon. It sits at the edge of a chasm which the tribe may have used as a lookout to spy on enemies.

The Chachapoyas also called the Warriors of the Clouds, were an Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonian region of present-day Peru

The main encampment is made up of circular stone houses overgrown by the jungle over 12 acres, according to archaeologist Benedict Goicochea Perez.

Rock paintings cover some of the fortifications and next to the dwellings are platforms believed to have been used to grind seeds and plants for food and medicine.

The Cloud People once commanded a vast kingdom stretching across the Andes to the fringes of Peru’s northern Amazon jungle, before it was conquered by the Incas.

Named because they lived in rainforests filled with cloud-like mist, the tribe later sided with the Spanish-colonialists to defeat the Incas. But they were killed by epidemics of European diseases, such as measles and smallpox.

Much of their way of life, dating back to the ninth century, was also destroyed by pillaging, leaving little for archaeologists to examine.

Remains have been found before but scientists have high hopes of the latest find, made by an expedition to the Jamalca district in Peru’s Utcubamba province, about 500 miles north-east of the capital, Lima.

Until recently, much of what was known about the lost civilization was from Inca legends. Even the name they called themselves is unknown. The term Chachapoyas, or ‘Cloud People’, was given to them by the Incas.

Their culture is best known for the Kuellap fortress on the top of a mountain in Utcubamba, which can only be compared in scale to the Incas’ Machu Picchu retreat, built hundreds of years later.

Two years ago, archaeologists found an underground burial vault inside a cave with five mummies, two intact with skin and hair.

Chachapoyas chronicler Pedro Cieza de Leon wrote of the tribe: ‘They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas’ wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple.

‘The women and their husbands always dressed in woollen clothes and in their heads they wear their llautos [a woollen turban], which are a sign they wear to be known everywhere.’

Secret civilisation: a map of the region where the settlement was found

The Chachapoyas’ territory was located in the northern regions of the Andes in present-day Peru.

It encompassed the triangular region formed by the confluence of the Maranon and Utcubamba rivers, in the zone of Bagua, up to the basin of the Abiseo river.

The Maranon’s size and the mountainous terrain meant the region was relatively isolated.

Chachapoyas Children’s Cemetery Found in Peru

Chachapoyas Children’s Cemetery Found in Peru

Archaeologists reported on the unique culture of the Chachapoyan people, a society of Andean people living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas region of present-day Peru, otherwise known as the ‘Warriors of the Clouds’.

The Chachapoyas are known for their incredible sarcophagi, known as purunmachu.

The sarcophagi were made of clay and carefully decorated and painted with faces and bodies before being lined up precariously on cliff edges, like sentinels guarding the dead.

Chachapoyas Sarcophagi

Now archaeologists have made a rare discovery of 35 more sarcophagi belonging to the Warriors of the Clouds. However, uniquely, these sarcophagi are only about 70 centimeters tall which leads researchers to believe that they hold the remains of children and that this collection of purunmachu was a cemetery that was exclusively for those who died young.

The purunmachu were first discovered in 1928 when a powerful earthquake shook the hills surrounding the Utcubamba valley in Peru, revealing a seven-foot-tall clay statue, which came crashing down from the cliffside.

Researchers were stunned to find that the figure was in fact a sarcophagus, and inside it were the remains of an individual carefully wrapped in cloth.

Since then, hundreds more have been found, however, it was not thought that any more sarcophagi remained, especially untouched and intact.

But in July of this year, archaeologists working in the Amazonas region spotted the collection of purunmachu with a long zoom lens camera.

Researchers have now been able to reach the site to confirm the finding, however, the sarcophagi have not yet been opened or analyzed.

In addition to the small size of the sarcophagi, another unique feature is that they were found facing west, which is not typical for the Chachapoyas cemeteries.

“Because of the magnitude of the find, we’re dealing with a discovery that is unique in the world,” said Manuel Cabañas López of the regional Ministry of Exterior Commerce and Tourism.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the Warriors of the Clouds began settling the region at least as early as 200 AD, but the Incas conquered their civilization shortly before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century.

Their incorporation into the Inca Empire led to the complete decimation of their culture and traditions, and less than a century after the arrival of the Spanish, they had been effectively wiped out.

The purunmachu sarcophagi remain as memory and legacy of this once flourishing culture of the Andes.

Mass Child Sacrifice Discovered in Peru May Be World’s Largest

Mass Child Sacrifice Discovered in Peru May Be World’s Largest

In Peru ‘s coastal plain, archeologists who excavated what is believed to be the world’s largest children’s sacrifice site have extracted the skeletons of 227 young victims.

Ever since last year teams have been digging at the sacrificial site of Huanchaco, a tourist town on the beach near Trujillo, the third-largest city in Peru.

The children aged four and 14 years of age have been sacrificed by experts to the Chimú culture in order to displace the gods as the rains and floods caused by the weather pattern of El Niño have reached the coast of Peru.

Archaeologists say more bodies could still be discovered

“This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found,” chief archaeologist Feren Castillo told to AFP. “There isn’t another like it anywhere else in the world.”

He said the children had been sacrificed to appease the El Niño phenomenon and showed signs of being killed during wet weather.

Castillo, an archaeologist at the National University of Trujillo, said that there may still be more to be found. “It’s uncontrollable, this thing with the children. Wherever you dig, there’s another one,” he added.

The children’s remains were found in a position facing the sea. Some still had skin and hair and had been found with silver earrings.

Huanchaco was a site where many child sacrifices took place during the time of the Chimú culture, whose apogee was between 1200 and 1400.

Archaeologists first found children’s bodies at the dig site in the town’s Pampa la Cruz neighborhood in June 2019, unearthing 56 skeletons.

Pampa la Cruz is a short distance from Huanchaquito, where the remains of 140 sacrificed children and 200 llamas were found in April 2019.

The discovery comes after more than 200 child sacrifices were found last year

Excavation work at Huanchaquito started in 2011, but the findings were first published last year by National Geographic, which helped finance the investigation.

Researchers there found footprints that had survived rain and erosion. The small footprints indicate the children were marched to their deaths from Chan Chan, a huge, ancient adobe city a mile from the burial site.

The children’s skeletons contained lesions on their breastbones, which were probably made by a ceremonial knife. Dislocated ribcages suggest whoever was performing the sacrifices may have been trying to extract the children’s hearts.

The Chimú civilization extended along the Peruvian coast to Ecuador but disappeared in 1475 after it was conquered by the Inca empire, which in turn fell to the Spanish conquistadors.

The region still suffers the devastating effects of El Niño. In March 2017, 67 people were killed and thousands more forced to evacuate by intense rains which damaged 115,000 homes and destroyed more than 100 bridges in Peru.

In 1998, a “super” El Niño hit Peru, killing more than 300 people and causing billions of dollars of damage.

Gigantic 2,000-Year-Old Geoglyph of an Orca Is One of the Earliest in Peru

Gigantic 2,000-Year-Old Geoglyph of an Orca Is One of the Earliest in Peru

A giant geoglyph of the killer whale, carved to a desert hillside in the remote Palpa region of southern Peru after being lost to science for over 50 years, has now been rediscovered by archeologists.

The rediscovered orca geoglyph lies on a desert hillside in the remote Palpa region of southern Peru.

According to the researchers, the 230-foot-long (70 meters) orca figure – considered a powerful, semimythical creature in ancient Peruvian lore — may be more than 2,000 years old, according to the researchers.

It is said to be one of the oldest geoglyphs in the Palpa region, older than those in the Nazca region known for its vast collection of ancient ground markings– the Nazca lines – which include animal figures, straight lines, and geometric shapes.

Archaeologist Johny Isla, the head of Peru’s Ministry of Culture in Ica province, which includes the Palpa and Nazca valleys, explained that he saw a single photograph of the orca pattern for the first time about four years ago. He’d seen it while researching studies of geoglyphs at the German Archaeological Institute in Bonn.

The photograph appeared in an archaeological catalog of geoglyphs printed in the 1970s, which was based on research carried out in Palpa and Nazca by German archaeologists in the 1960s, Isla said.

But the location and size of the orca geoglyph were not well-described in the catalog, Isla told Ancient Origins in an email.

As a result, he said, the glyph’s whereabouts in the desert hills of the Palpa Valley, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Lima, were by then unknown to local people or to scientists.

After returning to Peru, Isla looked for the orca geoglyph on Google Earth and then on foot. “It was not easy to find it, because the [location and description] data were not correct, and I almost lost hope,” he said. “However, I expanded the search area and finally found it a few months later,”

Orca art

After documenting the rediscovery, Isla led a team of six specialists from Peru’s Ministry of Culture in an effort to clean and restore the orca geoglyph in March and April this year.

Before the restoration, the geoglyph was disappearing due to erosion and the passage of time. “Being drawn on a slope, it is easier [for it] to suffer damage than [for] those figures that are in flat areas, such as those of the Nazca Pampa,” he said.

Until the restoration this year, time and erosion had almost obliterated the ancient orca geoglyph to untrained eyes.

The creators of the orca drew it on the hillside in negative relief by removing a thin layer of stones to form the outline of the figure. This is similar to the technique used by the people of the Nazca culture to create geoglyphs from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 800.

But some contrasting parts of the rediscovered pattern, such as the eyes, were created out of piles of stones, the researchers said. This technique was used by people of the older Paracas culture, who occupied the region from around 800 B.C. to 200 B.C.

Soil tests have indicated that the orca geoglyph dates from around 200 B.C. The style of the pattern and its location on a hillside, rather than on a plain, suggest that it may be one of the oldest geoglyphs in the region, said one of Isla’s colleagues, Markus Reindel of the German Archaeological Institute, in an interview in a German newspaper.

Isla said that before the restoration earlier this year, it would have been hard for a layperson to see the orca. “With the eyes of an archaeologist, and after having seen the photo in the catalog and later in Google Earth, it was not very difficult,” he said. “However, [for] the eyes of a person without these advantages, it was a bit difficult.”