Ancient Civilizations and Buried Kings of Northern Peru

lord of sipan trujillo
Intricate carving in the Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan

Intricate carving in the Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan

 

Ancient Civilisations of Peru

Chiclayo and Trujillo in Northern Peru was a blur of ancient civilisations, pyramids and royal tombs. Contrary to popular knowledge, Peru was not only about the Inca civilisation, there was a whole string of prior civilisations that left their own indelible mark on the history and culture of present day Peru. Amongst the long string of people who have lived in Peru since ancient times, the Chavin, Paracas, Moche, Nazca, Tiahuanaco, Wari and Chimu people all came and went before the arrival of the Inca.

Northern Peru is strewn with the remnants of their once great civilisations. Pyramids worn down into sandy lumps, impossibly elaborate royal tombs of ancient rulers like the Tomb of the Lord of Sipan, ancient temples and whole cities bear witness to the ingenuity of the ancient peoples. They also offer an insight into the lives, technology, beliefs and superstitions of these peoples.

At some point, I lost track of what was built by the Moche and what was built by the Chimu, or the characteristics of Wari pottery as it all blended into one great big historical slurry for me. What was absolutely fascinating to me however, was the fact that many of the ancient civilisations, many separated by vast geographical distances and sometimes hundreds or thousands of years, have in their building of monuments representing their gods and beliefs, resulted in pyramids of one form or another.

From the Egyptians, to the Aztecs of Mexico, the Mayans of Central America and the Norte Chico people in Peru, somehow, the unmistakable shape of the pyramid has featured in their significant constructions. Why this is so, I have absolutely no idea, perhaps a logical, technical answer exists, perhaps such a shape is the most stable and structure they were able to construct with ancient tools and material, or perhaps, there is some universal divinity associated with the pyramidal shape.

It might look like lumps of dirt now, but the Valley of the Pyramids in Tucume, near Chiclayo was once scattered with grand pyramids

It might look like lumps of dirt now, but the Valley of the Pyramids in Tucume, near Chiclayo was once scattered with grand pyramids

The beautiful carvings on the walls, preserved by the dry desert air

The beautiful carvings on the walls, preserved by the dry desert air

The stunning UNESCO listed complex of Chan Chan in Trujillo, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America

The stunning UNESCO listed complex of Chan Chan in Trujillo, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America

The fish carvings on the wall hint at people's connection to the sea during that time

The fish carvings on the wall hint at people’s connection to the sea during that time

Grand portal in Chan Chan, reserved for the nobility

Grand portal in Chan Chan, reserved for the nobility

Time and the elements have worn down the once great walls of the complex

Time and the elements have worn down the once great walls of the complex

I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.

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