New findings confirm that the idol of Pachacamac was not destroyed by the Spanish

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Pachacamac is a Inca sanctuary which was in operation during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries on the Peruvian coast. I was dedicated to God of the same name (meaning ‘creator of the earth’), one of the main pre-Hispanic and oracle divinities of the central coast of the Ancient Peru. The Spanish conqueror Hernando Pizarro He took the place in 1533 and, according to the chronicles, would have destroyed the wooden idol in honor of the deity to replace it with a cross.

Pizarro found resistance to enter the temple, since only the priests had permission to access the building. His goal was to impose Christianity and appropriate the riches of the site, as they believed it was as sumptuous as the Vatican or Mecca. But when they found that the statue of Pachacamac Wood era were disappointed.


Pizarro found resistance to enter the temple, since only priests could access the building

In 1938, however, archaeologists made an incredible discovery. They found a carved pole that represented the Inca god of creation, which suggested that the Spaniards were mistaken for a totem pole during the occupation of this emblematic place of the Inca Empire in the Andes or that its destruction was not complete.

Researchers from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) from France and the Sorbonne University They have put light on the controversial debate. Their analyzes have confirmed that the Pachacamac idol was built during the period known as Middle Horizon (between 500 and 1000 years after Christ).

The Pachacamac temple was located on the Peruvian coast

This era of development of the Andean civilizations saw how the dominance of Culture emerged Wari, which flourished in the center of the Andes around the seventh century and which expanded to the current Peruvian departments of Lambayeque in the north, Moquegua in the south and the jungle of the department of Cuzco in the east.

Scientists have also determined the original polychromy of the statue. “Traces of colors were observed in their different sections using portable microscopy and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, which led to the identification of yellow, white and red mineral pigments, including the presence of cinnabar,” they write in a study published in the magazine PLOS ONE

Error or incomplete destruction

In 1938, archaeologists found a carved pole representing the Inca god of creation

“Dated between the eighth and ninth centuries, this sacred statue would have been worshiped for almost 700 years, from its creation until the time of the Spanish conquest, a time when Pachacamac became an important pilgrimage site,” they add The authors of the research.

Since the idol was found, archaeologists wondered without its intense red color due to blood spilled on the wood during some kind of sacrifice practices. What scientists have found now is that there is white in the teeth of a character and yellow in certain headdresses.

Analyzes have discovered traces of white and yellow paint (in addition to red) in the statue

Analyzes have discovered traces of white and yellow paint (in addition to red) in the statue

More interesting even. The researchers were able to determine the chemical composition of the pigments and show that red is not blood but mercury, probably derived from cinnabar, a mercury mineral known for more than 2,000 years in the region in this region of the Andes.

However, cinnabar sources in the Andean region are almost 400 kilometers away from Pachacamac, in an area located at altitude. “Therefore, the idol was painted with an intention, no doubt that of showing economic and political power by transporting a pigment from a distant region, discarding others that were available locally,” they point out.

The first analysis of carbon 14 conducted in the idol of Pachacamac allowed us to know that the object was designed, probably by the Waris, around 731 BC, about 700 years before the height of the Inca Empire. This detail confirms that the site was already of ritual importance before the arrival of the Incas, which later turned it into one of its main pilgrimage centers, to the point of housing an oracle that advised the emperor himself.


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