Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ruins of Huaca Pucllana and Weekend Explorations

I spent some time exploring this weekend with my coworkers and on my own. I've been so thankful for all I've gotten to see in Lima in the short time I've been here. Today was another such day. I stayed pretty close to Miraflores where I am staying, but found my way toward the district of Isidro where I visited some very old ruins amongst the middle of the city.

The place I visited is called Huaca Pucllana. According to my guide book over 10,000 years ago people began building camps in this particular area of Lima which led way to building a pyramid for ceremonial and administrative purposes of the many people who lived here. As I approached the entrance to this historic site, I first noticed hundreds of thousands of bricks stacked row after row in mass, growing ever so higher above the surrounding modern buildings of the city. I joined an English speaking guided tour that lasted 45 minutes to learn more. The Lima people around 500 BC worshiped a God of the sea. Elaborate costumes and celebrations honored the sea and its fertility and life. Ceremonies focused on these themes involving human sacrifices. Human remains are found in many areas on the site. Our tour guide went into elaborate detail about this, which was interesting and horrifying. Young woman from the ages of 15 to 25 were the subjects of sacrifice (giving their lives was considered the highest honor to their God). These women were symbols of fertility. They were given a hallucinogen substance before their offering and then stoned to death by men. They were then decapitated and their limbs were cut off and buried. Horrifying, right? If only I had the photo snapshot of the faces of everyone on the tour after hearing this!

Lima is a desert city. It rarely rains here. The only form of moisture comes from coastal fog, thus this ruin is still preserved well over time. Bricks for the structure were constructed one at a time, shaped by hand, and baked in the sun. They were stacked like books in a bookshelf in a way that prevents collapse during an earthquake. The architecture of it all was really quite amazing. After the Lima people abandoned this site, most likely a result of new religions and ideas, Huaca Pucllana was used to burry the elite of the Wari civilization. The name Huaca means shrine. Today, archeologists are still working on the site and continue to uncover new artifacts.

Yesterday I spent the morning in a local market that sells Peruvian crafts and in the afternoon and early evening I explored Central Lima. Plaza Mayor, where we began, is a bustling city square that is home to government buildings, the cathedral, old churches and catacombs, and buildings with colonial style architecture. See below for a few more pictures of my weekend explorations...

Above. Hundreds of thousands of bricks make up Huaca Pacllana

Above. Mercado Indio, Peruvian crafts

Above. Butterfly collection for sale at Mercado Indio

Above. La Catedral in Plaza Mayor, Central Lima

Above. Guinea pigs are a common source of protein in Peru. Guinea pig anyone?

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