Several destinations in the foothills of the Andes are within relatively easy reach of Lima. The impressive sites of Puruchuco and Cajamarquilla are typical of ruins all over Peru and make a good introduction to the country’s archeology.
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Puruchuco and around
Puruchuco and around
An 800-year-old, pre-Inca settlement, PURUCHUCO is a labyrinthine villa. Nearby is the small but interesting Museo de Sito Puruchuco, containing a complete collection of artefacts and attire found at the site (all of which bears a remarkable similarity to what Amazon Indian communities still use today). The name itself means “feathered hat or helmet”, and recent building work in the locality discovered that the Puruchuco site was also a massive graveyard, revealing greater quantities of buried pre-Incas than most other sites in Peru. The villa’s original adobe structure was apparently rebuilt and adapted by the Incas shortly before the Spanish arrival: it’s a fascinating ruin, superbly restored in a way which vividly captures what life was like before the Conquest.
Very close by, in the Parque Fernando Carozi (ask the site guard for directions), two other ruins – Huaquerones and Catalina Huaca – are being restored, and at Chivateros there’s a quarry dating back some twelve thousand years.
First occupied in the Huari era (600–1000 AD), CAJAMARQUILLA flourished under the Cuismancu culture, a city-building state contemporary with the better-known Chimu in northern Peru. It was an enclosed city containing thousands of small, complex dwellings clustered around a higher section, probably nobles’ quarters, and numerous small plazas. The site was apparently abandoned before the Incas arrived in 1470, possibly after being devastated by an earthquake. Pottery found here in the 1960s by a group of Italian archeologists suggests habitation over 1300 years ago.
Today the site is a vast and almost overwhelming labyrinth of cracked and weathered adobe-built corridors, rooms and small plazas, and feels almost as if it was only recently deserted after a massive earthquake.