Chavin de Huantar Archaeological Site


Location: 19 mi (30 km) South-east of Huari; 0.6 mi (1 km) from Chavin village  Map

Open: 8am- 4pm daily

Existed: 1200-800BC


Chavin de Huantar Archaeological Site

 Chavin de Huantar is an ancient archaeological site located 19 mi (30 km) South-east of Huari and 0.6 mi (1 km) from Chavin village in Peru. Many of its buildings were constructed in 1200 - 800 BC. Chavin de Huantar Archaeological Site is one of the oldest ancient sites in Peru located in Ancash Region. It was constructed around 3000 BC and was inhabited until 400- 500 BC by the tribe of Chavin, hence the name. It was one of the largest civilization that predate the Inca Empire. It is located on top of a strategic mountain at an elevation of 3,180 meters (10,430 feet) above sea level a tthe entrance of the Conchucos Valley. Archaeological digs in the area revealed that it was a major religious ceremonial site. Thousands of Chavin people came here from different corners of the Andes range to pay their respect to their deities. Chavin de Huantar Archaeological Site was officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its cultural and historic importance.


Chavín lay at the intersection of the mountain-coast route and the north-south route. The site is a 2-hour drive (approx. 100 km) from the city of Huaraz, the capital of the Ancash region; from Lima it is about 430 km in a northerly direction.

purpose of the site
What Chavín actually was remains unknown to this day. It is believed to have been during its heyday between 400 and 200 BC. Chr. was an oracle and cult center of significant proportions, whose cultural activity was textile and ceramic production as well as metalworking. The Chavín complex is considered to be the oldest ensemble of stone structures in Peru. The granite boulders come from the Kahuish Pass and were rafted in during the rainy season.

The complex includes several buildings with various platforms and inner courtyards, some of which are connected to one another by underground passages. The main buildings are an "Old Temple" and a "New Temple" as well as a building erroneously called Castillo by the Spaniards, a three-storey, square pyramid, with a side length of 70 m and a height of about 15 m. To protect against earthquakes, the External walls designed as dry masonry or connected only by thin layers of earth are inclined by about 7 degrees. Inside is a labyrinth of small chambers, stairs and ramps connected by underground passages and horizontal ventilation channels.

The outer walls were decorated just below the upper edge with mask-like or grotesque stone heads, etc., some of which are well preserved or restored. Archaeologists believe they represent victims or captured enemies. The stone reliefs, on the other hand, show big cats (possibly jaguars) in connection with snakes and condors.

At the center of the building is the 4.5 m high monolith "El Lanzón", a human-shaped god with claws on hands and feet, located at the intersection of cruciform galleries. The figure, in the form of a knife with the handle up, shows a predatory face with numerous snakes between its teeth. Snakes hang from the ends of the hair and even from the belt. The monolith is the oldest figure found in this area.

Although the motifs depicted are similar, the Raimondi stele and the Tello obelisk, now in the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Antropología e Historia in Lima, are dated much younger.

A stone tablet bears witness to the ethnobotanical use of Echinopsis pachanoi.

Julio Tello, a Peruvian archaeologist, held that Chavín united different cultures in one religious ideology up to the time of the Incas.
The Chavín culture knew simple goldworking techniques. Snake-shaped pieces of jewelry and gold plates with stylized big cat motifs were found. Ceramics and textile products also feature predatory motifs.
Similar motifs were found in the subsequent Moche culture, but also in the area around Tiahuanaco.