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Chachapoyas of Peru • History • 2

by mythic44

Archaeologists have discovered a lost city carved into the Andes Mountains in Peru by the mysterious Chachapoya tribe, which is also known as the ‘cloud people’. The settlement covers some 12 acres and is perched on a mountainside in the remote Jamalca district of Utcubamba province in the northern jungles of Peru’s Amazon. The buildings, found on the Pachallama peak, are in remarkably good condition, estimated to be over 1,000 years old and comprised of the traditional round stone houses built by the Chachapoya, the ‘Cloud Forest People’.

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The area is completely overgrown with the jungle now covering much of the settlement, but explorers found the walls of the buildings and rock paintings on a cliff face. The remote nature of the site appears to have protected the site from looters as archaeologists found ceramics and undisturbed burial sites. The citadel is perched on the edge of an abyss. We suspect that the ancient inhabitants used this as a lookout point from where they could spot potential enemies, according to archaeologist Benedicto Perez Goicochea.

The ruins were initially discovered by local people hacking through the jungle. They were drawn to the place due to the sound of a waterfall. The local people armed with machetes opened a path that arrived at the place where they saw a beautiful panorama, full of flowers and fauna, as well as a waterfall, some 500 meters high, said the mayor of Jamalca, Ricardo Cabrera Bravo. Little is known about the Chachapoya, except that the mighty Incas had beaten them into submission in 1475. Spanish texts from the era describe the Cloud People as ferocious fighters who mummified their dead. They were eventually wiped out by small pox and other diseases brought by the Europeans.

The architectural model of the Chachapoyas is characterized by circular stone constructions as well as raised platforms constructed on slopes. Their walls were sometimes decorated with symbolic figures. Some structures such as the monumental fortress of Kuelap and the ruins of Cerro Olán are prime examples of this architectural style. Chachapoyan constructions may date to the 9th or 10th century; this architectural tradition still thrived at the time of the arrival of the Spanish until the latter part of the 16th century.

The presence of two funeral patterns is also typical of the Chachapoyas culture. One is represented by sarcophagi, placed vertically and located in caves that were excavated at the highest point of precipices. The other funeral pattern was groups of mausoleums constructed like tiny houses located in caves worked into cliffs.

Chachapoyan handmade ceramics did not reach the technological level of the Mochica or Nazca cultures. Their small pitchers are frequently decorated by cordoned motifs. As for textile art, clothes were generally colored in red. A monumental textile from the precincts of Pajáten had been painted with figures of birds. The Chachapoyas also used to paint their walls, as an extant sample in San Antonio, province of Luya, reveals. These walls represent stages of a ritual dance of couples holding hands.

Around the tenth century A.D. developed the present territoryof the department of Amazonas Chachapoyas culture most recognized manifestation of which is the impressive fortress of Kuelap. Although human presence in the region dates from; 7000 BC,are undoubtedly the construction of the Chachapoyas, which constitute the most representative monuments of local history. Architecturally dominated by circular constructions and walls decorated with friezes ornithomorphic. The mummies of the Lagoon of the Condors and the sarcophagus nestled in the cliffs such as Karajía are an example of the importance of thecult of the dead.

In the early years of Spanish colonization, Alonso de Alvarado founded the city of; San Juan de la Frontera of Chachapoyas (February 5, 1538) since become a very important point in the Marañón River region and income the jungle. In the years of independence, decided to support the cause Chachapoyanos emancipation and removed from office the deputy of the Spanish Empire and the bishop of Maynas. This generated a quick response which was crystallized in the battle of Figs Urco (June 6, 1821) with the victory of the patriots. The department of Amazonas was created by the government of Agustín Gamarra in 1832. Later, in 1866,when creating the department of Loreto, lost much of its original territory. Currently, the Utcubamba River Valley has the largest number of people in the department and the main productive activities among which, agriculture.

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The Chachapoyas of Peru   •   Locations & Activities


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