Pachacamac near Lima, Peru

(Last Updated On: February 24, 2021)

Able’s suggestion is that we visit the ancient ruins of the Pachacamac religious center near Lima. It is a place I have heard of, but know nothing about, thus I am shocked by the scale of this partially excavated site.

It reminds me a lot of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. There is something about it’s bleakness and the look of the sweeping expanse of empty landscape that is similar, not to mention similar problems with encroaching slums.

Although used and expanded upon by the Inca, most of the site pre-dates the Inca by several cultures, with the oldest going back to the Wari period of A.D. 500-900. Among other things, the ancientness of this site means it is comprised largely of mud brick walls finished with stone (and then plaster), rather than the massive, intricately cut and set stonework of Incan sites like those of Sacsayhuaman or Machu Picchu.

We start our tour at some smaller structures at the site, at first not really realizing the scale of what remains here.

The first is labeled “Pyramid with Ramp” and the sign tells us it included buried deposits, enclosed spaces, storage rooms probably used for both public rituals and administrative duties.

Ok, I have a hard time envisioning it as a functioning structure, but it’s massive and just one of a number of reconstructed structures.

There are also the partially excavated remains of major roadways. . .

(some with excavation work yet to be done)

and palaces.

The green fields and groves here make it clear that water is near. It makes me wonder what this site looked like when it was in use: was it too a green and leafy place?

(Later we come to an exhibit that includes both a restored building and examples of the springs and canals that were essential to life in this place.)

The Painted Temple give hints of the vibrancy of this site at the time of the Spanish conquest.

The largest structure on the site is the Temple of the Sun, a huge complex built into the side of the hill.

The temple faces the sea. It included terraces and platforms and niches that may have been used for offerings. Originally covered in red plaster, it was a grand building where valuable offerings – including human sacrifices – were given to the gods.

As in the past, the temple provides godlike views of the surrounding world.

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