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T.Chan Chan. Tschudi Complex. Defensive wall and Entrance to Ceremonial Complex

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T.Chan Chan. Tschudi Complex. Defensive wall and Entrance to Ceremonial Complex
L. 13th-14th c B. 17th -20th c L. Pre-Columbian: Andean P. Chimu (Late Intermed

CHIMU Anonymous (active Late Intermediate c. 1000 - 1450) Primary
CHIMU Anonymous (active Late Intermediate c. 1000 - 1450)
L. 13th-14th c B. 17th -20th c
Chimu (Late Intermediate)
B. Chan Chan. North Coast. Peru. B. Trujilllo. Peru

Tiahuanaco had been constructed in the high Andes mountains where stone was available as a building material. Cultures like the Chimu which were centered on the Peruvian coastal plain did not have easy access to stone. Instead they constructed their cities out of adobe, using scarce stone only for the foundations. The adobe constructions have survived thanks to the fact that it rains so little on the Peruvian coasts. However, a surviving legend tells of a king who so angered the gods that they sent rain for thirty days which ruins the crops. This rainfall was probably the result of one of the "el Niño" periods when the usual ocean currents reversed causing warming and widespread climactic changes. When I visited Chan Chan the staff was attempting to weather proof some of the more important adobe monuments to protect them from anticipated rains for the 1997-98 el Niño. The rulers of CHAN CHAN inherited and maintained irrigation systems established by earlier cultures on the Peruvian plain. Like the desert of the Imperial Valley of California the ancient Peruvian plain became extremely fertile when regularly irrigated. The rich production of the land, coupled with utilization of the abundant resources of the sea, allowed for buildup of large populations. The population of Chan Chan, which was at its height between 1000 and 1400, has been estimated to be between 40,000 and 200,000 people, which would make it larger than contemporary London, Paris or Rome. Archaeological exploration of the eight square mile site of Chan Chan has identified nine different compounds, each enclosed by a high adobe wall that in some cases rise as high as 30 feet. Each compound contained a royal tomb, administrative buildings, residential areas for both administrators and retainers, kitchens, and many storage rooms. The high surrounding walls are undoubtedly the result of security necessitated by the wars between rival kingdoms that were common at this time. Study of the royal tombs have shown that the nine compounds were built over a period of time. Archeologists have concluded that a new compound was constructed by each of the nine Chimu kings whose names are known from Inca oral tradition. It is hard to get a sense of the life of the inhabitants from the remains of these vast compounds. However, excavations have revealed that the walls of the vast plazas, which formed the center of each compound, were covered with reliefs that were most likely created by the use of molds. The decorations depicted both geometric patterns and stylized animals. You can see both in the upper image which shows a small portion of the plaza with the defensive wall behind. This image is quite bland and colorless, but traces of pigments have been found. It is quite likely that the walls and buildings of Chan Chan were painted with vivid colors like those still used in the nearby colonial city of Trujillo. The lower photograph was taken in the large central plaza of the city, and it is quite probable that the spacious plazas that form the core of most modern Latin American cities derive from the Pre-Columbian layouts. Colonial towns like San Jose constructed by Mexican settlers in what is now California and the Southwestern states all had a central plaza around which the life of the community revolved. The Commons or common areas derived from the English tradition have an irregular structure that is quite different from the symmetrical squares inherited from Pre-Columbian cultures.

Caption: T. CHIMU B. COLONIAL | T.Chan Chan. Tschudi Complex. 30 foot high defensive wall and Entrance to CeremoniAL Complex B. Trujillo| T.1200-1400 B. c. 16th-20th c-| T.Pre-Columbian: Andean B. Colonial| T.Chimu Late Intermediate B. Colonial

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