Pachacamac

Today we visited the archaeological site, Pachacamac. It contains evidence from three separate historical periods and cultural groups. In Quechua, “Pacha” means land, or earth. Pachacamac means “Spirit of the Earth.” The name is pronounced pa•cha•ka•MAC in Spanish or pa•cha•KA•mac in Quechua.

Lima Culture

The oldest remains at the site date from the Lima Culture (100-650 CE). These early people built a temple for Pachacamac at the site. Little is known with certainty about their belief system, but much can be inferred from the later cultures that continued to venerate this nature deity. The map to the left shows the geographic extent of the Lima Culture within what is today Perú.

When the Wari Culture conquered the region around 650 CE, they continued the veneration of Pachacamac, but they built a new and larger temple near the location of the old one. The Wari culture also used the area for burials for their highest nobility. Many mummified remains have been found there. The Wari constructed what we now anachronistically call the Inca trail. That phenomenal feat of engineering was inherited by the later Inca Empire, not created by it.

Correction: In the original version of the following paragraph I mistakenly wrote “in the 1200s”. I should have written “in the 1400s,” not the 1200s. I have updated the text to reflect the appropriate date.

The expanding Inca Empire conquered the region in 1450 CE. Under Inca rule, the veneration of Pachacamac continued, but was subjected to the worship of the sun god, Inti. A much larger temple was constructed for Inti near the temple of Pachacamac. A portion of that temple is shown in the image below.

Entrance to the Temple of Inti (the sun god) at Pachacamac

This new building was constructed using materials readily available in the area. While Inca era construction in the highlands uses almost exclusively stone, here the majority of the building is made of adobe. The foundation was constructed of relative small stones from the area, but the enormous stones available in the highlands are simply not available on the coast, but the local people were quite adept at constructing with adobe.

As can be seen in this small image, typical Inca styles are present in this adobe construction from the late period. The double-jambed niches indicate an area of very high status.

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