Ancient Chan Chan in Peru

South America - Editor - 05 May 2011

Ancient Chan Chan in Peru

Chan Chan was a city ruled by the Chimú kings as the capital of the Chimú Empire. Years of tireless and continuous excavations on this archeological site have revealed a world of splendor and grandeur that was fit for kings of Chimor. The massive site covers an area of over seven square miles, or twenty square kilometers, and is also the biggest mud-brick, pre-Columbian settlement that can be found in the Americas. Archaeologists have discovered that this once was a bustling city with an urban centre that was approximately six square kilometers in size.

The entire city of Chan Chan was constructed by the Chimú Empire. It is estimated that the construction to the city took place in about 850 AD. The ancient city is located in what is now the La Libertad region of Peru, near the city of Trujillo. It has been estimated that approximately thirty thousand people lived in Chan Chan, and that the Chimú Empire ruled the city until they were overrun by the Inca Empire in 1470 AD.

What remains of the city today is a sight to behold and its significance was recognized by UNESCO, who declared Chan Chan a World Heritage Site in the year 1984. Due to the nature of construction, floods, earthquakes and the odd looter are the only devastating threats to the city at present. The Chimú were advanced in their design of the city, complete with irrigation canals in the city and out to the farm lands. The first feature of the site that grabs a visitor’s attention is the extremely tall walls, some that reach heights of up to twenty-six feet, surrounding the citadels of the city, of which there are eleven. The citadels and the pyramid of the city are considered to be the major monuments of the site and each of the palaces has been constructed fairly similarly. The characteristics that each palace features include lengthy corridors, burial chambers, reservoirs, store rooms, ceremonial rooms and temples. The way they were constructed also controlled the influx of people. Walls were first constructed with adobe bricks and after the surfaces were smoothed down, intricate designs were carved into the walls as decorative features, with some walls featuring detailed carvings of crabs, turtles, fish, birds and a variety of mammals.

A great number of artisans lived in Chan Chan, as evidence of textiles and other products were excavated. Other residents were farmers and fishermen. The lives of the community of Chan Chan are depicted on the walls of the citadels and buildings. Due to the location of the ruins of Chan Chan near the Pacific Ocean and the great condition the city is in, the Peruvian government has put plans and projects into place to preserve the site to the best of their abilities, as it is a part of their heritage and a popular attraction.


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