Thursday, 30 April 2009

Huacas in Lima, a journey through time

Lima has an incredible rich prehispanic heritage. The fertile valleys of the rivers Chillón, Rimac and Lurin have been inhabited since time immemorial. The first city of the Americas – Caral – is located a bit to the north of Lima in the valley of the river Supe and dates more or less from the times of the pyramids in Egypt, i.e. 5,000 years ago.

A very brief historical context. The first urban settlements in the three valleys date from around 2,000 till 1,000 years before Christ. This culture built big U-shaped temples, of which El Paraiso in Ventanilla, Huacoy in Carabayllo and Garagay in San Martín de Porres are examples. With irrigation channels they transformed the desert between the rivers in fertile agricultural lands. In the period 150 till 650 after Christ the Lima culture flourished in the valleys. These people built temples with little adobe blocks ´adobitos´. You can find their temples in Cajamarquilla, Cerro Culebras, Maranga, Pucllana and Pachacamac. After that these areas were part of the Huari empire. In the 11th and 12th century the valleys were invaded by Aymara speaking peoples who founded two lordships; Colli in the valley of the river Chillón with their capital on top of a mountain in the present district of Comas, and Ichma in the valleys of the rivers Rimac and Lurin. They made Pachacamac their capital. The Ichma did not use adobitos but big blocks of adobe. They built large pyramids with ramps. Examples are Mangomarca in San Juan de Lurigancho, Huallamarca in San Isidro, Mateo Salado in Lima Industrial and Puruchuca in Ate. When the inca´s arrived around 1430, the Ichma surrendered peacefully and their god Pachacamac became integrated in the Inca religious system. The Colli resisted and were exterminated. Their valley was settled by the so called mitimaes from other parts of the empire. The Ichma lordship was divided in several smaller administrative units ruled by curacas; Late (Ate with center Huaquerones), Lima, Huatca, Malanca (Maranga), Sulco (with center Ichmatambo/Armatambo) and Lurigancho (with center Mangomarca). The dynasty of the caciques of Maranga and Surco in the colonial times was the last personal link with these times. They died out around 1800.

In all districts of Lima you can find huacas. A lot have disappeared. First because the Spanish built on top of them, as in the center of Lima, where the cathedral, government palace and Casa Aliaga are built on top of the huacas of the curacazgo of Lima. Casas haciendas were as well built on top of huacas. Examples are the casa hacienda Cueva, nowadays museum Larco Herrera, and the casa hacienda Santiago de Punchauca in Carabayllo. With the expansion of Lima since the 19th century until now huacas are in the way of urbanizations and highways. The important religious center Limatambo disappeared because of this. Just a few huacas are protected and even less are museums that can be visited; Pachacamac, Pucllana, Huallamarca and Maranga. Especially in Lima Emergente the huacas are unprotected and have become dumping grounds for garbage. With the enormous number of archeological sites in Peru the governmental organizations have their limitations. It helps if people visit the places and show the value and importance of them.

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