Huaca Pucllana: When Human Sacrifices Were Hip

Growing up in California, I had no real first-hand experience of things that were OLD. The thought that people had been going to Disneyland since 1955 blew my mind, and there was a neighborhood in the next town that was built in the 1920s that seemed simply ancient, because by California standards, it was.

When I traveled to Europe for the first time and saw REAL history, it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that people built what I was seeing hundreds and in some cases thousands of years ago. I suspect that if you have been exposed to this type of history your whole life, you may take it for granted, but this California girl sure doesn’t. I wonder about the people and their lives and their personalities. Who did they love? What was their favorite food? Were they kind?

On one of our first trips together, we were standing on the bulwark of the Fort San Cristóbal in San Juan and I said to Brett, “Don’t you just want to know everything about the people who built this fort?” “Nope”, was his succinct reply, “but I’d like to shoot one of those canons.”

In the heart of the Miraflores district in Lima, Peru, there is the strangest juxtaposition I’ve ever seen. Sixteen hundred year old Huaca Pucllana is surrounded by the modern city. It is a clay and adobe brick pyramid built by the pre-Inca Lima Culture, who lived between 200-700 AD. It was an important ceremonial site where human sacrifices were made and ritual banquets were held. After the Lima Culture died out, the Wari Culture converted the pyramid into a tomb for its elites. Following the Wari Culture’s disintegration, the Ichma Culture took over until they were conquered by the Incas in 1470, who were then conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors. It’s a miracle this pyramid has survived.

We took a guided tour and learned details about their lives. Shark and other sea-food was the staple of the Lima Culture’s diet, although they did have gardens, and developed irrigation systems. They also raised llamas, alpacas and guinea pigs for meat. Textiles were an important status symbol and were made of cotton and animal fur, which were very colorful and sophisticated. They also made beautiful ceramics. It all seemed very “modern day” until we got to the human sacrifices. They were all young women, and we were told it was a great honor and they went willingly. Rather than being distraught, their families would have been very proud.

Delving into the fascinating history of this culture was right up my alley. Brett had enjoyed it too, but after the tour was over, I felt like I wasn’t done talking about the people who had lived here so long ago. As our guide and I continued discussing the people of the Lima Culture, Brett was looking around for a canon.IMG_6457

19 Comments on “Huaca Pucllana: When Human Sacrifices Were Hip

  1. Ancient history indeed. I’m amazed at the precise way the bricks were cut to build structures which have survived even up to today!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t that incredible?! For many years after it was discovered it wasn’t taken care of so a lot of it was destroyed. But now the conservation efforts are restoring many of the sections that didn’t make it, and they are protecting the original bricks that have survived.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s good. At least now we understand the value of preservation and have some of the technology to do it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Mayan codices are one of the greatest losses I think. To imagine the burning of hundreds of texts…. so much we could have learnt from those recordings.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. In spite of having born in a land which has history as old as history itself, I am still intrigued by their ways of life. The various excavations have brought to light their class of living. The irrigation system, the utensils they used, their houses, their tools, their ways of communication etc was so wonderful. Am in awe of everything ancient as much as I am of everything new.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very interesting, especially raising guinea pigs for food…yowza! I bet there are a lot of husbands who would have been more interested in playing with the cannons than in the history 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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