Huaca Pucllana is located amongst the residential buildings of the Miraflores district of Lima and dates back to 500 AD where it served as the ceremonial and administrative centre for the Lima Culture, a society which habited the Central Coastal area of Peru between 200 and 700 AD.
Excavations and conservation work started in the middle of the 20th century when the top of the pyramid was exposed, but it wasn’t until 1981 that permanent work on the archaeological complex revealed the importance of Huaca Pucllana and led to it becoming a Historic Cultural Park. The work on the site discovered textiles, decorated ceramics, bones, stone tools and remains of alpacas, guinea pigs, ducks, fish and other molluscs; corn, pumpkins, beans and fruits, all of which provided information about the lives of the inhabitants. The houses were built near plantations or close to irrigation channels and were constructed of reed and adobe, the typical materials for this time.
The simple burial sites and absence of weapons among the burial objects indicated that the population lived a very basic and peaceful live. Their textiles were simple and made of wool from alpaca or vicuña. The pottery found included ceremonial jars decorated with snakes and fish, coloured in red, black and white.
Around 700 AD the arrival of the Wari people overthrew the other cultures in the area and along the coast of Peru. It was then that Huaca Pucllana lost its importance and was abandoned, although it was used by the Wari as a burial place for their nobility. This resulted in the destruction of many of the Lima buildings. The burials consisted of individual graves and those containing a number of bodies, including sacrificial child victims. A number of tombs have been found intact providing significant insight into the Wari culture. By the time that the Incas arrived, Huaca Pucllana was considered to be a sacred place.
Huaca Pucllana was an important religious centre of the Lima culture and was dedicated to a female deity linked to the sea. The site covers an area of more than 16 acres with the important buildings being located in the centre covering 6 acres. The site consists of two sectors; the administrative sector and urban zone which contained areas for public meetings and a number of small buildings and huts made of adobe (some of the walls of which are still standing). These function to enclose and act as the courtyards and patios. It also included ramps and storage rooms. The buildings were finely finished and plastered with mud; some of which have been found to have been finished with yellow paint.
The second sector was the ceremonial sector which contained a number of buildings including a temple,amongst the ruins of which were found vessels containing beans, corn and cotton mats, which were believed to have been offerings. This sector also contained the Great Pyramid. This was 500 metres long by more than 100 metres wide and reached a height of 22 metres. The construction is of adobe and filled with boulders, sand and materials obtained from previous demolished buildings. The Great Pyramid consists of seven levels and a number of smaller pyramids and buildings. Linking the Great Pyramid with the Northeast Complex is a large zigzag-shaped ramp with buildings located around it. The structure is surrounded by a plaza, or central square, and by a large wall dividing it into two separate sections. In this section there were benches and evidence of deep pits where offerings of fish and other marine life took place in order to seek the favour of the gods.
On the site is a museum which contains a collection of ceramics, textiles, tools, artefacts and remains of plants and animals that were found at Huaca Pucllana. It also depicts the way that it would have looked and have been used.
Although the site may appear to many as a collection of adobe ruins and does not present the magnificent buildings to be found at some of the other archaeological site of the later civilisations, it does represent an important stage in the development of civilisation in the area. The positioning of a number of effigies dressed as the Lima would have dressed are scattered around the site and this enhances the visit.
To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.
Copyright - All Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain