Archive for February 21, 2019

Lima, Peru–Day 2 (2019)

     We got up bright and early on January 16 for our second Lima excursion.  Our first visit was to the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology & History of Peru.  It was Peru’s first public museum and has the biggest collection, although the items we saw on display weren’t all that numerous. The museum is housed partly in an 18th century mansion where Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin both stayed (but not at the same time). In front is a huge bust of Bolivar, a gift from former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and the courtyard has many colorful flowers.

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     The museum’s collection contains many thousands of artifacts reaching back before recorded history, to at least 10,000 BC.  It includes textiles, a great deal of pottery and even a recreated burial site.

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    Most of the rooms we visited contained collections of pottery from the Incas and several pre-Inca cultures.  Each is listed separately below.

Nasca Pottery

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Amazingly realistic Moche Pottery (this is the culture that built the Temples of the Sun & Moon in Trujillo):

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Recuay pottery:


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Wari (or Huari) pottery:

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Inca pottery:

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Chimu pottery (this is the culture that built Chan Chan in Trujillo):

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    This was a very interesting museum and we wished we had a good bit more time here to explore it in greater depth.  But our time was limited because we had to proceed to our next stop, the ancient ruins of Pachacamac.  This is an important archaeological site & the main reason we chose this excursion.  On our last visit here in 2012 we were on a private excursion that was supposed to include this site but when we reached the gates they were locked because an important automobile rally was scheduled to pass nearby.  So better late than never!

     Pachacamac apparently began around 200 AD and was dedicated to the local creator god Pacha Kamaq.  It was a site of pilgrimage & was occupied by a succession of cultures until 1470, when the Inca took over.  The Inca incorporated Pacha Kamaq into their pantheon, subordinate to the sun god, and built several new buildings at the site, including the massive Temple of the Sun.


     Francisco Pizarro sent his brother Hernando with 14 horsemen to pillage Pachacamac of all the gold and silver he heard was kept there, but none was found.  Legend has it that the priests received advance warning and hid a great deal of gold and silver objects, but they were hidden so well they have never turned up.  Anyway, a disappointed Hernando and his men trashed the place and it lay fallow until the end of the 19th century when archaeologists showed up (and found a lot of it had been plundered by looters).  As at so many of these sites, a great deal of “restoration” has occurred, so that a lay visitor cannot really tell what is original and what is a modern reimagining.

     We briefly visited several of the structures at Pachacamac.  First was a pyramid with terraces connected by a central ramp.  This was an administrative center and/or possibly a palace.

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     Calle Norte-Sur (North-South Street) was a long street providing important access to the pyramid.

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     The Mamacona complex was built by the Incas to house the virgins of the Sun Temple.  These women were picked out at a young age and taught skills like textiles and gardening.  They serviced the temple and periodically were sacrificed in an important religious ceremony.  A couple of llamas were hanging out nearby.

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    And here are some random ruins we can’t identify any more.

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    Lima is home to vast squatter settlements called “pueblos jóvenes,” or young towns.  Lima has experienced rapid growth from folks moving in from rural areas, particularly during the war with the Shining Path guerillas during the last two decades of the 20th century.  In the 1930’s Lima had about 300,000 inhabitants, rising to about a million in the 1950’s.  Today there are some 11 million people here.  Many of them live in these shantytowns, many lacking water and electrical service (except what is pirated through patched in lines).  There was a very large one (or maybe several of them) right next to Pachacamec.

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    We had lunch at Hacienda Mamacona, presumably named for the Pachacamac structure that is right next door.  Peruvian Paso horses are bred here and we were treated to a show of horsemanship and dancing.  The grounds were beautiful, with many lovely flowers.

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     Paso horses are descended from the ones brought here by the Conquistadors.  Apparently due both to natural selection in this isolated desert area and breeding by owners, these horses have developed a natural four beat gait that gives a very smooth ride.  They walk, rather than trot, and their backs remain steady enough that no posting (bouncing in the saddle) is necessary.  They brought out a month old colt, too young to train, to demonstrate that this gait is natural and not learned.  This characteristic was valued by the folks here who had to travel for days to cross their plantation lands.  The horses tend to lift their front feet high as they walk, and some move them outward at the same time.  A brass band played while the horses went through their routines.

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   There was a dance performance in the horse ring, then a dance between the woman & a mounted rider (which was a little weird).

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    The dancers and band were back, performing on a wooden stage platform, while we had a delicious Peruvian meal.  Some of the dances appeared to be the same as some we saw the night before on the ship.  Altogether a very enjoyable visit.

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    We drove back to the ship through Lima’s still congested traffic, passing through Miraflores for one final view of the beach below the cliffs.  Thus ends our extended visit to Lima, as we retired a bit early because we had a long excursion scheduled for the next day in Matarani, Peru.

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