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W. Iain Mackay

Peruvian city and capital of the department of Cajamarca in northern Peru. It is also notable for being the site of a Pre-Columbian culture represented primarily by a localized pottery style dated c. ad 400–c. 1000. It is situated at an altitude of c. 2750 m in a fertile Andean valley and has a population of c. 70,000. Settlements dating back to the Early Horizon or Chavín period (c. 900–c. 200 bc), such as Huaca Loma and Layzón, have been discovered on the outskirts of the town. In the hills above the town, 14 km to the south-west, the Cumbe Mayo aqueduct, which is 7.8 km long and probably contemporary with Chavín culture, feeds the fertile Cajamarca valley. Also in the vicinity is the site of Otuzco, with its Middle Horizon cemetery, comprising mainly niches carved into the stone and an associated fortress. The modern city is a popular holiday destination for Peruvians....


Henning Bischof

Modern town, partially overlying a Pre-Columbian site in Ancash Department, Peru. Ancient Chavín de Huántar flourished between c. 1000 bc and c. 300 bc, and the ceremonial architecture and more than 200 stone sculptures of this period were used to define the Chavín culture and art style. Subsequent research has shown that they were the culmination of Chavín culture rather than its origins. The site was reoccupied, after a short break, in the Huarás and Callejón periods, from c. 200 bc to c. ad 1000.

The importance of Chavín de Huántar was never entirely forgotten during the Spanish colonial period, and the ruins attracted 19th-century travellers, including Charles Wiener and Ernst W. Middendorf. The first systematic study of the ruins (from 1919) was carried out by the Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello, who by the early 1930s had conceptualized the Chavín culture as the fountainhead of central Andean civilization. ...


José Alcina Franch

Pre-Columbian city that flourished c. ad 1450–1540, 28 km (by road) north of Cuzco, Peru; excavated by José Alcina between 1968 and 1970. The town centre is on a high plateau, 3720 m above sea level, near Lake Piuray on the old road from Cuzco to the Yucay Valley. Chinchero was ‘founded’ as an Inca imperial city at the beginning of the reign of Tupac Inca Yupanqui (reg ad 1471–93) and became the country residence of his panaka (lineage group). The proximity of Cuzco—15 km by the Inca road—meant that the architecture of Chinchero was heavily influenced by the imperial Inca style (see also South America, Pre-Columbian, §III, 2, (iii)).

The urban nature of the site is evident not only from the size and quality of its buildings but also from the way they are sited. There was an internal communication system and also a drainage system that catered for the whole area, ensuring the draining of all residual waters into the ravine adjacent to the site. The city-plan can be divided into three sectors: a residential and administrative sector, a religious sector and an agricultural sector. The first two evolved around two squares, that of the present village and the ...


Ann Kendall

[Huánuco Viejo]

Pre-Columbian Inca regional capital, 150 km from modern Huánuco in north-central Peru. The well-preserved city at Huánuco Pampa, which flourished during the late Imperial period (c. 1473–1534), consists of approximately 3500 visible structures covering an area of c. 2 sq. km. The city was planned according to Inca concepts of urbanism and was divided into four sectors (north, south, east, and west), each of which was further subdivided into twelve sections. The centre of the city comprised a large plaza (550×350 m) with a central ushnu (or usnu; Quechua: ceremonial platform). Roads (including those to Cuzco and Quito) met at the plaza. The ushnu comprises a main rectangular platform (32 × 48 × 3.5 m high) set on two lower platforms, all made of stone blocks dressed on their exposed faces. The main platform included a balustrade with two entrances and a flight of steps on its southern side. The entrances were flanked by stone blocks carved in high relief with what appear to be pumas. Two small buildings on the lowest platform face east....


José Alcina Franch

Village and site of Pre-Columbian Andean ruins 16 km from Cañar in the Sierra Sur, Ecuador. The site is in a rugged area between the River Silante and the village of Ingapirca, c. 3200 m above sea level. An early Cañari settlement, dating from the 10th century ad, was conquered by the Incas at the end of the 15th century. Its Inca name is believed to have been Hatun Cañar. The site had been known and visited since the 18th century but was not excavated until 1968, by G. J. Hadden. Further work was conducted by Juan Cueva in 1970, José Alcina in 1974–5, and Antonio Fresco in 1978–82.

The identification of architectural structures has proved difficult, as some are Inca and others earlier. The outstanding feature of the site is the Castillo complex, comprising a large oval building and a series of rectangular dwellings. The Castillo itself is a pyramidal structure in which the main platform is formed by a finely carved wall ...



Richard A. Diehl and Trent Barnes


Pre-Columbian city in Hidalgo, Mexico, that flourished as the capital city of the Toltec people between c. ad 950 and 1150–1200. Tula occupies a ridge overlooking the River Tula in the arid steppes 60 km north-west of Mexico City. Historically, Tula was the second of three major central Mexican urban polities (Teotihuacán, Tula, and Tenochtitlán) that exerted political, cultural, and artistic influence on other Mesoamerican societies. The Toltecs ruled a small ephemeral empire covering portions of central, north-central, and western Mexico, but their commercial and perhaps political influences extended southwards into Yucatán and Central America.

The community, first settled c. ad 800, grew into a city with a population of perhaps 10,000 by c. 950. Little is known of this early period or Corral phase, but Tula Chico, its largely unexcavated civic–religious precinct, has been identified. Tula Chico consists of platform mounds that once supported buildings arranged around an open plaza in a configuration similar to Tula Grande, the civic–religious precinct of the mature city. Tula Chico was replaced by the much larger ...



Natalia Vega


City in the central region of Colombia. Capital of the department of Boyacá, it is situated at an altitude of 2793 m and had a population in the late 20th century of c. 180,000. In Pre-Columbian times it was the site of the Muisca village of Hunza, whose wood and straw houses were decorated with gold rattles and hanging plates on the doors and windows. The area was notable for its production of fine cotton blankets. In 1527 the Spanish conquistadors arrived, and in 1539 Gonzalo Suárez Rendón took possession of the land and drew up a conventional Spanish grid plan for the city. The region attracted many Spaniards, who built their houses of lime and rock with clay roofs and decorated the entrances with escutcheons. Between 1541, when it acquired city status, and 1610 Tunja enjoyed similar status to Bogotá. A wide knowledge of humanistic and classical culture is evident in the ambitious ...