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 Other Ruins in Peru

(This is taken from John D. Baldwin's Ancient America, originally published in 1871.)

Ruins at Pachacamac

The ancient Peru conquered and robbed by Pizarro is now divided into Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chili as far down as the thirty-seventh degree of south latitude. Its remains are found to some extent in all these countries, although most abundantly in Peru.

The ruins known as “the Palaces of Gran-Chimu” are situated in the northwestern part of Peru, near Truxillo. Here, in the time of the first Incas, was an independent state, which was subjugated by the Inca set down in the list of Montesinos as the grandfather of Huayna Capac, about a century before the Spaniards arrived. For what is known of these ruins we are chiefly indebted to Mariano Rivero, director of the National Museum at Lima. They cover a space of three quarters of a league, without including the walled squares found on every side. The chief objects of interest are the remains of two great edifices called palaces. “These palaces are immense areas surrounded by high walls of brick, the walls being now ten or twelve yards high and six feet thick at the base.” There was in each case another wall exterior to this. Within the palace walls were squares and dwellings, with narrow passages between them, and the walls are decorated. In the largest palace are the remains of a great reservoir for water, which was brought to it by subterranean aqueducts from the River Moche, two miles distant. Outside the inclosures of these palaces are remains of a vast number of buildings, which indicate that the city contained a great population. The Spaniards took vast quantities of gold from the huacas or tombs at this place. The amount taken from a single tomb in the years 1566 and 1592 was officially estimated at nearly a million dollars.

Remarkable ruins exist at Cuelap, in Northern Peru. “They consist of a wall of wrought stones 3600 feet long, 560 broad, and 150 high, constituting a solid mass with a level summit.” Probably the interior was made of earth. On this mass was another, “600 feet long, 500 broad, and 150 high.” In this, and also in the lower structure, there are many rooms made of wrought stone, in which are a great number of niches or cells one or two yards deep, which were used as tombs. Other old structures exist in that neighborhood. Farther south, at Huanuco el Viego, or Old Huanuco, are two peculiar edifices and a terrace, and near them the faded traces of a large town. The two edifices were built of a composition of pebbles and clay, faced with hewn stone. One of them is called the “Look-out,” but it is impossible to discover the purpose for which it was built. The interior of the other is crossed by six walls, in each of which is a gateway, the outer one being finely finished, and showing a sculptured animal on each of the upper corners. It has a large court, and rooms made of cut stones. Connected with this structure was a well-built aqueduct.

Seven leagues from Lima, near the sea, are the much-dilapidated ruins of a large city of the Incas, which was built chiefly of adobes or sun-dried bricks. It is called Pachacamac. Ruins of towns, castles, fortresses, and other structures are found all about the country. At one place, near Chavin de Huanta, there are remarkable ruins which are very old. The material used here was like that seen at Old Huanuco. From the interior of one of the great buildings there is a subterranean passage which, it is said, goes under the river to the opposite bank. Very ancient ruins, showing remains of large and remarkable edifices, were seen near Huamanga, and described by Cieça de Leon. The native traditions said this city was built by “bearded white men, who came there long before the time of the Incas, and established a settlement.” It is noticed every where that the ancient Peruvians made large use of aqueducts, which they built with notable skill, using hewn stones and cement, and making them very substantial. Some of them are still in use. They were used to carry water to the cities and to irrigate the cultivated lands. A few of them were very long. There is mention of one which was a hundred and fifty miles long, and of another which was extended four hundred and fifty miles across sierras and over rivers, from south to north.








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