Prior to the Chavín culture are cultures that are either synonymous with the Chavín or on the horizon of the Chavín culture. Pacopampa (Quechua: paqu pampa) is an archaeological site located in the northern highlands of Peru, in the department of Cajamarca. It presents the remains of a monumental ceremonial center, made with cut and polished stone. It belongs to the Formative period, dating from 1200 to 500 BC. In the 1930s Rafael Larco Hoyle visited the area where samples were collected from the lithosculpture that he then brought it to his museum in Chiclín (Trujillo) and today it is found in the Larco Museum in Lima. He was the first to report, though in a brief manner, on such findings on the site. Pacopampa was related to the Chavin culture when Julio César Tello, the father of Peruvian archeology, made his theory about the origins of the Peruvian culture. By analyzing pottery they created a stage prior to the Chavin influence Pacopampa-called Pacopampa (1200 BC), different from the one that follows, entitled Pacopampa-Chavin (700 BC). This stone mortar represents the fusion of three sacred animals of Peru, the bird, the feline and the serpent.
This 3000 years old stone stele was found in Pacopampa, a temple in Cajamarca, in the northern highlands of Peru. To better understand the carved image, it is preferable to view the attached drawing. A personage with arms raised is portrayed, with flows that come out from its mouth, as if it were the production of a spider web. At the center of the body a spiral-shaped element resembles a snail-shaped mollusk. In the abdominal area a second face with feline traits is represented. This stone stele depicts a female anthropomorphic deity. Between her legs the vagina dentata (toothed vagina) can be distinguished which is a common feature of some goddesses of ancient religions around the world. This trait expresses the power of the terrible mother, one that gives life but is also presented as all-powerful and castrating. Religious art begins to have more importance in ancient Peru at the time when rulers, priests and priestesses strengthen their power. In the temples of the Formative Period in the Andes (1200 BC – 1 AD) such as Pacopampa, the anthropomorphic carved stone monoliths impersonate the huaca or sacred place.
An intact tomb containing the remains of two high priests has been discovered in the Cajamarca region of Peru by a team of Peruvian and Japanese researchers led by archaeologist Yuji Seki. Daniel Morales, co-director of the project, said that the 2,700-year-old tomb of the Pacopampa culture is being called the Tomb of the Serpent-Jaguar Priests because of a ceramic vessel in the shape of a serpent with a jaguar’s head that was found near one of the bodies. The other individual had been buried with a necklace of 13 oval-shaped gold beads engraved with figure eights. The tomb sits near a large square surrounded by stone walls accessed with two staircases. “Finding these remains in the same place where rituals and feasts were held, we assume they could have been priests in charge of ceremonies during this culture’s peak, between 800 and 500 BCE.
Archeology remains of the Pacopampa Temple. The first building (EPI) belongs to the Pacopampa I phase, it consists of 5 rectangular enclosures symmetrically articulated with respect to architectural axis of the site. Are organized in East – West as follows: three (one central and two lateral) adjacent enclosures; from the first accessed an elongated and narrow through a central entrance enclosure, then a last enclosure in similar ways, through two side income. Inside the Central Precinct they found several hearths or pits where various materials that were burned repeatedly in order to make some kind of ceremony were deposited.
In 2009 a team of archaeologists of the Pacopampa Archaeological Project, directed by Yuji Seki, announced the discovery of the tomb of a woman, presumably a person of great power in the area, from around 900 BC or so. The tomb, shaped like a boot, is very deep and had been in all that time free from looters or grave robbers. The woman, now named “The Lady of Pacopampa” measured 155 cm and when she died she must have been between 30 and 40 years of age. She had an artificially deformed skull and she was buried with rich grave goods composed by earmuffs, gold earrings, ceramic pots and seashell necklaces. It was also found that her skull was dipped in cinnabar. There are indications that she was buried before the construction of the ceremonial temple.
Although they were not on display, this is an example of Pacopampa pottery. It has geometric designs horizontal stripes, vertical lines, oblique lines and plants.
The religions of the Formative Epoch in Peru created gods in human form but with the supernatural powers of the feline. On Earth, the supreme leaders assumed the power of the feline. The great religious, political and economic powerthey accumulated enabled the development of moreefficient production methods.The faces of these figures are a combination of human features and those of the feline, such as teeth, whiskers andalmond-shaped eyes.
In early cultures like Cupisnique, the gods were represented as animals. In pre-Columbian art the feline is the symbol of power and strength. It shows its dominance by bringing down the deer, which symbolizes subjection to power. They also represented the owl, a nocturnal bird, and the condor in stylized designs which featured the fangs of felines and serpents. Birds represented the power of the skies, while the feline and the serpent represented the power of the earth and the subterranean world, respectively.
The relationship between Chavin and Cupisnique is not well understood, and the names are sometimes used interchangeably. Cupisnique was a pre-Columbian culture which flourished from 1500 to 500 BC along what is now Peru’s northern Pacific Coast. The culture had a distinctive style of adobe clay architecture but shared artistic styles and religious symbols with the later Chavin culture which arose in the same area at a later date. For instance, the scholar Alana Cordy-Collins treats as Cupisnique a culture lasting from 1000–200 BC, which are the dates some associate with the Chavin culture. Izumi Shimada calls Cupisnique a possible ancestor of Mochica (Moche) culture with no mention of Chavin. Anna C. Roosevelt refers to “the coastal manifestation of the Chavin Horizon, dominated by the Cupisnique style”. As always, please leave a comment.
Museo Larco: http://www.museolarco.org/en/
Pacopampa Lady: http://www.archaeology.org/news/3694-150917-peru-pacopampa-tomb
Pacopampa Lady: http://www.pacopampa.com/2011/08/la-dama-de-pacopampa/