Today, Wednesday, February 27, 2008, Mary and I took a tour to Pachacamac which is about 25 miles south of Lima.
Pachacamac means Lord of the World in the Peruvian native language of Quechua. This religious center was the leading pilgrim center in the central coast region and it had the most feared oracle in the Andes.
The oracle was housed in the only colored building in the compound. Today you can just barely make out that the stones were painted red. The idol is no longer there but housed in one of Lima’s many museums.
We saw the original road that was used to enter the compound. It was also the road that the Spanish used to invade Pachacamac. Originally, there was a gate, but it is no longer there.
We saw another ruin that had the bricks set up in a “book case” style. This was from the Lima era (200-700 AD). This book case design was used to allow movement during earthquakes and prevented the buildings from falling. Also, at this site, there were the remains of trees. There were very few trees in the area. The trees were pulled up by the roots and planted root side up. Then, mats were placed over the roots to make a terrace.
Another site at the ruins was the Temple of the Sun. This was the area that sacrifices were made of virgins for fertility and young children. It was an honor to be sacrificed and often young children were immortalized after the sacrifice. There were several skulls and bones found at the Temple of the Sun during its excavation.
From the Temple of the Sun we had an amazing view of the ocean and San Pedro rocks. We also looked down on a bull arena. As our tour guide said, it wasn’t where they killed the bull…only play with him. Hmmmm…..do you think the bull thinks it is play??? There was a beautiful row of palm trees not far from the arena. Our tour guide pointed out that behind the palm trees, there was a cock fighting ring…..oh, lovely! Yes, it is legal in this country. May I never see one!
The final stop was the Temple of the Moon…pictured here. This is where the young children were brought to live. People from Pachacamac would search the country for young girls who were “perfect” in proportion and without any type of blemish on their body. It was an honor for the girl to be accepted. Upon arrival to Pachacamac, they would live in the Temple of the Moon. Not all of these girls would be offered as sacrifices. Some were given as gifts to other tribes to keep peace and some were trained to teach new girls who arrived. This position was sort of like a nun today.
The Spanish conqueror, Francisco Pizarro, heard about Pachacamac in 1532 and ordered an expedition to go and sack the area. They seized large amounts of silver and gold. It was basically the demise of Pachacamac.
On the way to Pachacamac, we passed through Reserva Pantanos de Villa. This was a wetland area where several birds migrate to from the north during the winter months. It is a major bird watcher’s attraction. It was interesting to see this in the middle of the arid landscape!