Chavin Archaeological Site
Chavin de Huantar developed between 1,500 to 500BC in the highlands of the southeast of the Cordillera Blanca in the department of Ancash, 186 miles (300 km) north of Lima. Chavin is one of the earliest known pre-Columbian civilizations that developed in the Early Horizon. Chavin de Huantar was the economic, social and political center of the region. Chavin was designated UNESCO Heritage Site in 1985.
The entire site is about 12 square kilometers and contains the main architectural complex of buildings, plazas, galleries, dwellings and other structures as well as agricultural zones, terraces and irrigation canals.
The Chavin people built large stone temples and plazas decorated with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic carvings. Its buildings contain an internal network of galleries and a system of vents and drains that required advanced knowledge of engineering.
The Chavin built this center as a place of worship that attracted people from far away regions unifying and consolidating its presence in the Central Andes. They came so see the Shamans who were priests believed to communicate with the deities. In their honor they built stone sculptures such as the carved heads, Chavin Lanzón, Tello Obelisk and Raimondi Stella. Shamans were at the top of the social hierarchy and used astronomy to predict climate used in deciding which crops to plant. People venerated them and thought they had special powers.
The Tello Obelisk is a lithic sculpture measuring 8.27 feet (2.52 meters) tall in trapezoidal shape and sculpted on four of its sides. This sculpture represents the union of two caimans complemented by the representation of other elements such as birds, humans, felines, plants and serpents. This is the most complex sculpture of the Chavin culture due to the complexity of its iconographic form.
The Raimondi Stella is a monolith or a granite rock sculpture that represents God Wiracocha. It measures 6.5 feet (1.98 meters) in height, 24 feet (7.4 meters) in length and 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) in width.
The Stella is sculpted only on one side. Wiracocha is represented as a anthropomorphical feline with two extended arms holding a pole. The Raimondi Stella is currently at the National Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Lima.
Carved Heads are a representation of a deity represented by the Jaguar. All the heads are of different sizes. Some faces have anthropomorphic features, others feline characteristics. They were placed around the exterior walls guarding the complex against invaders.