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.

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