Pachacamac

Day 1, and off I went to Pachacamac. Pachacamac, on the outskirts of modern-day Lima, was the main pilgrimage site in the coastal areas of Peru for more than 1000 years. It doesn’t get huge billing in the guide books, presumably as the structures were built using adobe bricks and so haven’t stood the test of time as well as a stone structure might/would/should have. We tourists are so fussy…. Having been doing some of the background reading before coming away, though, I couldn’t come so close without going to see it.

Pachacamac was associated with creation in the coastal regions (as none of these civilisations had written language, the creation myths told by different sources can be contradictory / somewhat confusing. The one I was told today as the version believed by the coastal peoples was that there was a Creator God Con who created the first people. Pachacamac then came along, decided they were no good, sent them into exile and created some new people instead). He’s also associated with destruction – apparently if you upset him and he shakes his head, an earthquake results. Best not to upset him…….

The earliest structures are from the Lima civilisation, dating from around 200-600AD.

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Then along come the Wari / Huari culture (different books use different spelling) from around 600-1000AD. The Wari expanded their region of control, centred SE of Lima around Ayacucho, to include this coastal area. Among their contributions to the Pachacamac site are the Painted Temple (shown below) and a cemetery (where there isn’t much to see).

You can still see the remains of some red and yellow paint on some sections of the Painted Temple (oddly enough the ones that are not particularly well covered by the roofing that’s supposedly there to protect them). The design on the hoarding is supposed to show what it would have looked like.

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The Idol of Pachacamac was found here and could be seen in the small on-site museum. It’s a carved wooden staff about a meter and a half long.

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After the downfall of the Wari came a local culture, the Ischma (from around 1100AD to the arrival of the Incas in 1470). They contributed a number of structures, including pyramids in which they buried their dead leaders. In a further parallel to Egypt, looting has been an issue over the centuries, so there is no treasure here to be gaped at 😦
Here are the remains of pyramid with ramp number 1:

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Then finally, along came the Incas. Pachacamac became the administrative centre for the surrounding area, requiring a palace to be built for the local Inca leader. One suspects it may have been slightly more luxurious than the modern day constructions to be seen in the background….

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Rather than destroying the existing constructions, the Incas kept them and hence incorporated the existing system into their own structure. That didn’t stop them, of course, from building their own Temple of the Sun on the highest part of the site overlooking the sea beyond (the Sun God, Inti, being particularly important to the Incas). This temple has a trapezoidal footprint (a shape beloved of the Incas), is about 200m long and has 4 levels. There were 2 entrances, one at one end for the servants and one at the other end for the priests.

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The niches on the first photo (showing the end of the Temple with the priests’ entrance) were for putting offerings into, textiles being the best offerings you could bring. The second photo shows the side of the Temple. Why is it that wherever you go in the World, whenever you visit an “original” ancient construction, you will at some point come across 2 blokes with a wheelbarrow and a bag of cement?

I suspect that the 2 blokes in question (or some of their co-workers; there were a lot of wheelbarrows in evidence at Pachacamac) had been gainfully employed for quite some time at the final building, Acllawasi. This is where young girls (from the age of around 11) were taken and taught tasks including making chicha (a drink made from fermented maize) and weaving. Some ended up as concubines for the Inca leaders; others ended up as human sacrifices. Frying pans and fires spring to mind…..

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On the way back into Lima, the bus did of course have to make an additional stop (don’t they always?). This was ostensibly to show a demonstration of Peruvian steppe horses. Here’s a photo of a Peruvian Marinera dance, which seems to involve a lot of make-up and vigorous hankie-waving. Oh, and a surprisingly white dress, given that she was stomping around barefoot in the sand…..

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More from Lima tomorrow…….

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