Pre-Columbian site in Río Abiseo National Park, Peru, occupied c. 450 bc–ad 1532. Gran Pajatén sits at 2850 m above sea-level in a highland rain-forest setting often compared to that of Machu Picchu. The site is a complex of stone terraces, stairways, platforms, and circular buildings extending over approximately 1 ha along a crescent-shaped ridgetop above the Montecristo River, a tributary of the Abiseo and Huallaga rivers. Ceramic evidence and radiocarbon dates of c. 420 bc and c. 250 bc (Church, 1994) place Gran Pajatén among the oldest known sites of the Andean highland rain-forest. The architectural style, however, may not pre-date the Late Intermediate period (c. ad 1000–1476).
Stone cornices divide virtually all of the 26 known circular buildings into two levels. Tenoned heads and an unusual variety of stone friezes featuring anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and geomorphic motifs structurally incorporated into the tabular slate masonry distinguish Gran Pajatén from similar highland rain-forest sites near ...