Located high up in the Peruvian Andes approximately 250km north of Lima and to the east of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, they belong to one of the oldest known civilizations in South America and offer an intriguing insight into an ancient culture that ruled for over a millennium.
The historical site is thought to have been constructed around 1500BC and served as a base for the Chavin people until their reign came to an end in 300BC, many years before the first Inca was born. It enjoyed its most vibrant period from 800BC – 300BC during the Early Horizon period, making such an impact over this time that it is now commonly described as the Chavin Horizon.
The ruins are set amongst the towering peaks of the adjacent mountain range at an altitude of 3,180m above sea level. The site covers an area of 12,000 square meters and is formed by a combination of terraces and sunken squares set within a perimeter wall. It also hosts a fairly complex drainage system that leads in and out of a labyrinth of underground chambers. Above the main square stands a castilla, a tall pyramid structure overlooking the whole site. The foresight of its founders saw them build the majority of the site from stone, enabling it to stand the test of time in the face of a variety of natural hazards. It has successfully withstood both landslides and earthquakes at random points over the course of its existence.
Visitors will be able to observe various clues cultura chavin resumen held within these ruins and others from the Chavin as to the principals that lay behind this ancient culture. Artifacts, such as shells with holes drilled into them in order to be used as horns, suggest that religious ceremonies played an important role within Chavin society. Significant strides were made in techniques for metallurgy and textiles over this period, with materials such as camel hair being dyed to make cloths, as well as the practice of joining together pre-shaped metals to make items of artistic or practical value. Chavin culture worshiped three important deities, the serpent, condor and feline (jaguar or puma) and many of its artifacts can be found to depict one or more of these animals.
However, its durability as a 3000 year old legacy comes at a cost. Preservation of the site requires significant funding that has, on occasion, stretched beyond the capability of the Peruvian government. The Institute for National Culture were forced to ask for emergency assistance in recent years in order to protect the site from threats such as the El Nino climatic phenomenon. Income generated from tourism and visitors to the area obviously helps this process considerably, as well as being an important source of income for the local community.
The travel company Escaped to Peru offer vacation packages throughout South America and are specialists in putting together trips that incorporate such archaeological treasures. Whilst the majority of tourists in Peru head for the better known archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu in the south, the Chavin de Huantar ruins still draw reasonable crowds throughout the year, holding just as many mysteries as other archaeological sites around the country and running out clear winners in terms of longevity. The nearest major town to Chavin is Huaraz, and many tourists choose to make the day trip by bus, which takes about 4 hours passing by some stunning mountain scenery along the way. The more adventurous tourist can choose to carry on round the valley from Chavin, coming to the small market town of Huari prior to arriving at Chacas, a mountain village famous for its carpentry.