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.
I found these objects in the Larco museum and was fascinated by this culture. The Chavin were the first known pre-Columbian Andean civilization in the Andean highlands area of modern day Peru. They flourished from 900 (or 2000 BCE) to 200 BCE. They were likely refugees from the drought plagued coastal cities of the Norte Chico civilization in the Supe valley of Peru (3500-1800 BCE). Tenon-heads like these once hung high on exterior walls at Chavín, encircling the temple. They are thought to represent stages of a drug-induced human-to-feline shamanic transformation. The last tenon-head to remain embedded in place is located on the west wall of the New Temple. The feline figure is one of the most important motifs seen in Chavin art. It has an important religious meaning and is repeated on many carvings and sculptures. Eagles are also commonly seen throughout Chavin art. There are three important artifacts which are the major examples of Chavin art. These artifacts are the Tello Obelisk, tenon heads, and the Lanzón. The chief example of architecture is the Chavín de Huántar temple. The temple’s design shows complex innovation to adapt to the highland environments of Peru. To avoid the temple being flooded and destroyed during the rainy season, the Chavín people created a successful drainage system. Several canals built under the temple acted as drainage.