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date: 12 November 2019

Chan Chanlocked

  • John R. Topic
  •  and Trent Barnes


Pre-Columbian site at the juncture of the Moche and Chicama valleys in northern coastal Peru, and capital city of the ancient kingdom of Chimú, flourishing 850–1470. The ruins of Chan Chan overlook the Pacific Ocean from a bluff near modern Trujillo. Watercolours of c. 1789 commissioned by Bishop Baltazar Jaime Martínez de Compañon y Bujanda include plans of Chan Chan and some drawings of artefacts from the site. In the 19th century further plans and drawings were made by Mariano Eduardo Rivero, Ephraim George Squier, and Adolph Bandelier. Extensive archaeological work was conducted between 1969 and 1975 under the direction of Michael E. Moseley and Carol J. Mackey; the collections resulting from these excavations are held by the Instituto Nacional de Cultura in Trujillo.

The core of the city covers approximately 6 sq. km, but its walled fields, isolated pyramids, and cemeteries extend over more than 20 sq. km. High walls subdivide the site into isolated units that are often repetitive in their internal organization; at ground level this gives the impression of a vast maze, but from the air the unity and order of the overall site plan can be appreciated. At the centre of the city is a rectilinear area measuring ...

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