Archaeologists uncover 5,500-year-old Peruvian ruins

A team of Peruvian and German archeologists have dated ruins in northern Peru to 5,500-years-old, making it one of the oldest structures in the Americas, El Comercio reported. The archaeologists confirmed the antiquity of the stone and adobe structures in the Sechín Bajo archaeological complex, located close to the coastal city of Casma, in Ancash Department, with 25 carbon-dating tests.

According to daily El Comercio, the tests dated a sunken, circular plaza with a 10- to 12-meter diameter to about 3,500 B.C. The head of the Sechín Bajo project, Peter Fuchs, said the plaza was likely used by earlier residents as an open space to socialize. Fuchs added that a second construction phase included adjacent buildings. A third construction phase included larger structures measuring 180 meters-by-120 meters that were reportedly built some 2,000 years after the original plaza to accommodate population growth.

Fuchs said the site challenges theories that Peru’s earliest civilizations developed on the coast before moving and settling inland. The dating of the circular plaza makes it 500 years older than the ruins at Caral, a settlement located about 124-miles north of Lima on Peru’s coast and believed to be the oldest urban center in the Americas.

The prime material used for construction at the Sechín Bajo complex was reportedly stone, which was transported to the site from nearby hills. “Whoever built Sechín Bajo had a high level of architectural and construction knowledge,” said Fuchs. “This is clearly seen in the use of materials so the buildings are resistant.”

Archaeologists also found the freize of an executioner on one of the walls, which represents two elements central to Andean religious belief, the feline and serpent. The image of the executioner, which has feline teeth and holds a ceremonial knife in the right hand and a serpent in the left, is a recurring image in the Chavin civilization, which developed from about 900 B.C. and died out around 200 B.C.

“Peruvian archaeology finds, for the first time, the representation of a character that endured some 3,000 years until the end of the Moche culture, which is when it disappeared as a representational image,” El Comercio reported Archaeologist Jesús Briceño saying. “But it is very likely it stayed in the beliefs of the Andean population until much later.”

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