The Larco Museum was established in 1926 by the Peruvian archeologist, Rafael Larco Hoyle.
Rafael Larco measured the alternating layers of sand between the marks left by the flooding of torrential rains that are produced about every 20 years on Peru’s northern coast as a result of the El Niño phenomenon.
Flooding left a layer of mud which marked the period during which the torrential rains fell and layers of sand blown by the wind that accumulated between each period of flooding.
Larco studied how they were related to the construction of ancient tombs. In this way he calculated the age of the cultures he identified.
The dates established by his chronological ordering were remarkably accurate and to this day are still used by modern archaeologists.
According to Luis, our knowledgeable young guide, North America was populated when people crossed the Bering Strait 20,000 years ago. They reached Peru 12,000 years ago.
These ancient cultures revered three animals: the snake representing the underworld, the birds representing the upper world, and the jaguar representing our world. All three control nature, and nature was alive. Woman can give life. Death was not the end of life.
Human sacrifices were made. Warriors fought and the winner removes his opponents helmet and grabs him by the hair. The loser was then sacrificed.
Larco uncovered many puzzling artifacts. There were hundreds of pottery vessels featuring erotic scenes of sexual positions, not only humans, but also skeletons, gods and animals. Their culture centered around fertility. It was quite awkward for our young guide to explain these things to us.
After our tour was over. I was reading some placards and I kept hearing the click of a camera. Rob was taking lots of pictures. “It’s art history.” Even Larco stated in so many words, “Don’t shoot the messenger. I just found them. You draw your own conclusions.”
Huaca Pucllana is a hill in the middle of the city of Lima. It was used as a garbage heap. Then in the 1960s, it was used for dirt bike racing. When they decided to do some road construction through the hill in 1981, they realized that it was a temple with human remains. They stopped construction and began to excavate. Archeologists have been working on it for 42 years and estimate that it will take another 50 years.
The site dates from 400AD to 1400AD. No one lived here, but it was used for religious celebrations. The building technique looks like a bookcase, but obviously it is very earthquake proof. There are no heavy rains in Lima so the adobe bricks remain intact. Since there is no writing from this period, archeologists theorized and interpreted what they found.
These were tombs of the privileged. They have found 82 tombs so far. The bookcase building method is unique to Lima. We don’t know why it was abandoned.