From clay to feast: Ceramic collection and ceramology at El Castillo de Huarmey

El Castillo de Huarmey, situated approximately 850 kilometers from the Wari heartland on Peru’s Pacific northern coast, emerged as the largest and most important provincial center in the region between AD 800 and 1000. The presence of the Wari culture at El Castillo is undeniable, as it is expressed not only in architecture, but also in funerary practices and by high-quality artifacts. Venerating deceased ancestors was of utmost importance to the Wari. El Castillo de Huarmey itself is a testament to this pivotal element of their past culture. This enormous sepulchral archaeological site covers an area of 45 hectares. A maze of chambers and mausoleums, erected across almost the entire summit of a large rocky spur that extends outward towards the valley, acted not only as an elite necropolis but also as a center of reverence for ancestors. The enormous quantity of ceramics discovered within offering rooms and graves reflects the considerable effort devoted to crafting ceramic vessels for food and beverage consumption, thus fostering a sense of community through feasts that involved both the ancestors and the living.

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Toro Muerto – researching pre-Columbian petroglyphs

The archaeological site of Toro Muerto, one of the largest assemblages of rock art in the world, lies in a small desert valley to the west of the Andean foothills. Much of it is decorated with petroglyphs (rock engravings) created by representatives of several local cultures who, over many centuries (probably from the beginning of our era until Inca times), came to this unique site to take part in ceremonies.

Watch the video describing the research at the site

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Seventy-three intact burials with carved masks discovered at Pachacámac

Seventy-three intact burials in burial bundles, some with carved masks, have just been discovered at Pachacámac. The site of the find is an extensive complex of cemeteries from different periods at the foot of the Painted Temple. Nearby, wooden staff with images of dignitaries of the Wari Empire were also discovered.

The burials date from the second half of the Middle Horizon, that is, the time of the Wari Empire. The burial bundles were initially deposited individually and later also in groups. The state of preservation for most of them is spectacular.

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Stinky problem – where did the Maya go to the toilet?

Imagine an ancient Maya city in its heyday. You will probably see its ceremonial core, with lofty pyramids, elevated palaces, extensive plazas, and everything is either painted bright red, or blinding white. You notice courtiers strolling along private patios, and servants rushing in all directions with their daily tasks. Perhaps there you can catch a glimpse of the ruler, sitting on his cushioned throne somewhere in the guts of a complicated maze of corridors in his palace. There is a sound of a gentle breeze blowing through the roofcombs, and a murmur of indistinguishable conversations. Faint smells of food mix with those of flowers… Then you step outside of the core, and everything changes. Perishable architecture intertwines with small houselot gardens, there are people everywhere, and they all seem to be shouting. Dogs are barking, some turkeys block your way, kids play in a muddy puddle, and you feel nauseous because of the ever-present smell of human waste mixed with odors of organic decay…

Hang on, hang on! Is that really a plausible picture?

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