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Trujillo — ChanChan

Chan Chan is an enormous archeological site near Trujillo and right on the ocean. Archeologists believe its construction was begun around 1300 A.D. by the Chimu people, who developed one of the largest pre-Inka cultures. They were eventually absorbed by the Inka empire, but it didn't seem to change their lives much. Chan Chan was definitely built on for hundreds of years. Each time a new leader took power, he built a new palace and so now the site covers 20 square kilometers of prime beachfront real estate. Only one of the palaces is open to the public and the archeologists are still working on it. ChanChan is considered to be the largest complex of mud structures in the world, and we believe it. You would think that mud buildings wouldn't last long so near the ocean, but the weird weather of the Peruvian Pacific coast allows it, since it hardly every really rains here!

Our guide was very knowledgeable and had worked with archeologists on the site. And we literally found her by the side of the road! Later we came to realize that all of Perú's English-speaking guides were fabulous. Either that, or we were just very, very lucky.

At any rate, here she is explaining some details to Kathy and Brother Paul, our escort and translator while we were in Trujillo. You can tell by looking over our shoulders how gigantic this main plaza is... and it's just part of the whole palace complex. Here is also a closeup of the structure's mud walls.

ChanChan plaza ChanChan mud walls

Here are two views of parts of the complex away from the main plaza:

ChanChan ChanChan

Here are pictures of parts of the complex that the archeologists are currently working on. You can tell by the awnings for shade. On the right is the entrance to the tombs, where mummies have been found. The public isn't allowed to go down to the tombs.

ChanChan ChanChan Entrance to tombs

One particularly interesting area of the site was this space whose walls contained many niches, probably to serve as places for idols such as the restored one shown on the right.

Niches Idol in a niche

The Chimu had to have water in their city and there are several of these springfed ponds within the complex:

Pond with tourists

Here are two more views of the structures:

ChanChan ChanChan

The picture on the left gives you a good idea of the size of the walls in the plaza. (Henry is almost 6 feet tall.) That picture was taken before his "sacrifice," on the stone in the righthand picture. At least the archeologists think that's what the stone was for. The Chimu had no written language and so archeologists and tourists are left with many questions about their culture and artifacts.

ChanChan wall ChanChan

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All photos, unless otherwise credited, are © by Henry J. Amen III. Please do not use without permission.