Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Rise & Fall of an Ancient Civilization: An Article by Jason Nesbitt

January 14th, 2016

From the School of Liberal Arts newsletter by Jason Nesbitt.

“Situated high in the Andes Mountains lies Chavín de Huántar, one of the most iconic archaeological sites in Peru. Dating between 1100 and 500 BC, Chavín de Huántar was both a pilgrimage center and one of the earliest urban settlements- think Jerusalem or Mecca- in the Andean highlands. The core of Chavín de Huántar is characterized by a temple complex dominated by a truncated platform that is honeycombed with internal subterranean galleries meant for priests who had access to esoteric ritual knowledge. Fronting the temple is an enormous plaza meant for the throngs of pilgrims, likely from different parts of the Peruvian highlands, coast and tropical forests, who gathered at Chavín de Huántar for ceremonial purposes.”

“Yet, Chavín de Huántar was not a vacant religious center. It has been known since the 1970s that the site also contained a residential sector that was populated by thousands of inhabitants, making it the principal highland centers of its time. Where did all of these people come from and how was this ancient city supplied? To gain perspective on this issue requires the excavations of the rural communities that surrounded Chavín de Huántar. However, because of the “humble” nature of small-scale archaeological sites they have not received the attention that they deserve.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Peru + People
Jason S. Nesbitt
Assistant Professor - Anthropology