In a remote corner of northeastern Peru —embraced by the
Marañón river to the west and the north and the Huallaga
river to the east— the ancient Chachapoya once held sway over
a vast territory, today scattered with the distinctive remains of
their trademark cliff tombs and hamlets of circular structures.
Feared warriors and famed shamans, the Chachapoya flourished from
around AD 800 until their violent conquest by the Incas in the 1470s.
Today, looters and vandals are engaging archaeologists in a desperate
race to save the remains of this great, but little known civilization.
Despite over a century of exploration and more recent archaeological
and archival research, our understanding of the region’s prehistory
The evidence suggests that at times the ancient Chachapoya interacted
with cultures living to the east, west and north of the Marañón,
while at other times they flourished in relative isolation. Although
the Chachapoya played a part in the greater Andean cultural sphere,
their art and architecture convey a bold and independent spirit
that sets them apart from their neighbors. “Classic”
Chachapoya civilization —with its hallmark circular constructions
and masonry friezes— appears to have coalesced around AD 800
and continued into Inca times, ca. 1470-1532.
An Overview of Chachapoya Archaeology and History ( Adriana von
Hagen) (pdf document)
Kuelap's monumental wall (Adriana von