The Archeological Pearls of Chira
The Pre-Columbian history in and around the second largest city of Piura urges a bigger investigation.
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The huacas of Chalacalá Baja, near Sullana, Peru.
All photographs by César Rivas, special to FACTORTIERRA.NET
- Locals in Upper Chira Valley call them "lomas" (hills in
English) and their houses are around them. Inclusive, one of them
is the source for making adobes or unbaked bricks in Chalacalá Baja Town.
But at least
around 550 years ago, they seemed to be funerary monts. "There are at
least about 30 huacas like those between Sullana [City] and La
Peńa," Archaeologist Daniel Dávila Manrique explains. We have already shared with him the experience of identifying and verificating evidences of this kind in Malingas and Sapillica, only that right now this has been one of his first investigation subjects.
In fact, his
first field assignment to achieve his proffessional license was
visiting Lower Chira Valley, finding vestiges from Montelima
Town, among Tamarindo (Paita) and Ignacio escudero (Sullana) Districts,
towards Tangarará, Marcavelica District (Sullana), where the Spanish
conquerors founded San Miguel, their first settlement along South
America, in 1532.
the spanish city of San Miguel moved constantly. Circa 1534, it
moved to Monte de los Padres, at Upper Piura Valley's coastal
zone, where the rests of Piura La Vieja site only remain nowadays (La
Matanza, Morropón). Later circa 1570, it moved to Paita Bay until it
ended its exodus in 1583 at the property called Bellavista or also El
Chilcal, amid Medium Piura Valley, next to Piura River. The grand total is a 265-270 km or 165-168 mile journey in six decades.
But let's return
to our starting point at Lower Chira where Archaeologist Dávila
assures that Hispanic-architecture homes in Tangarará are
made over little monts those could belonged to Pre-Columbian
communities, as it is possible to see easier as we approach to
Chira River, next to the demolished bridge that connected it to Sojo,
Miguel Checa District (Sullana), in the other bank, where the famous
estate-house is located, built beside a huaca or sacred site known as
that bank towards East, already in Sullana City, it is a traditional
tale that the so-called Loma de Mambré, one of the three hills it
is settled down, was a deposit of handicraft very visited on Holy
Fridays, when the people used to extract huacos or pottery and
chaqiras or colored necklace beads. 1,5 km or 1 mile towards
SouthWest, at El Alto de la Paloma Hill, the highest of the
metropolitan area, some people living in Barrio Sur tell they
also found these objects just behind the Health Ministry's
aspect of both hills is they raise up just from Chira River, and
following its flow up, 1,5 km or 1 mile away theNortheast of Loma
de Mambré is El Cucho, where a huaca was located, which a public
midden and latrine only remains today, but that it was visited during 1980s
and 1990s decades by huacos-&-chaqiras illegal extractors.
The sector known
as Upper Chira (Alto Chira in Spanish) begins in El Cucho, what was
regularily visited by many archaeologists during the 20th century, like
the Japanese Archeological expedition and the Archaeologist James
Going on the
river up is Chalacalá Baja Town, about 15 km or 9 miles away the
Northeast of Sullana City. FACTORTIERRA.NET was there in 2010
researching the zone in general and in 2012 producing a story
that ended to connect Chalacalá Spanish estate, what has no longer
vestiges -none visible at least- to a cult brought from Africa.
name was around and around Archaeologist Dávila's head after finding
18th-century colonial administrative documents, which described its
demarcation and inclusive they specified the huacas inside the Spanish
estate by a drawing. "On the
document, the Spaniards used the monts like milestones," he
explains, "and one of them is just behind the town's
support of the Sullana Province's Councellor Hebert Muńoz
(2007-2015), we were with Archaeologist Dávila in 2010 trying to call
the attention of the community for protecting the archeological site.
had already prospected the zone by using aerial photographs. He
wondered and still wonders an about 3-hectare or 7410-acre terrain,
miracolous preserved considering the surrounding cropfields, where
banana for exportation is mostly growed.
funerary monts," he clarifies, while he guides us on the field. After
locating the first one, the highest, we see other four ones towards the
river. We estimate the
most prominent could be higher as two-floor house and a bit more,
while the others just reach two meters or 6,7 feet. Currently they seem
to be mont-shaped but it is not clear what its original
second one is being predated for making adobes, while the
others are amid a relatively flat terrain an leafless bushes, typical
at Equatorial Dry Forest.
The last one of
them is almost on the river's rim. In fact, when going up the
fifth one, where seems to meet two air fronts, judging the continuos
sound of smashing invisible currents and the formation of swirls, is
possible to see La Horca Town in Querecotillo District (Sullana),
nearby La Peńa, one of the references quoted by Dávila, but also
another place called Cabo Verde Alto, where is belief there is a
Pre-Hispanic wall, somekind ruins perhaps.
The studies made
at Chira Valley, since 1960 by David Kelley and James Richardson III
the two following decades, determined all these archeological
vestiges could be raised between 1100 and 1470 A.D., and could belong
to Piura Style (Ethnohistory refers to them as Tallans).
"We cannot talk
about a society in particular," Dávila warns. "We need to investigate
on the field and maybe do restricted excavations in the place for
having a biggest precision about its kind, date, and
One way to
manage the care and preservation of this cultural patrimony is by
organizing, promoting, and learning among the nearby community itself
living next to the site about the care, promotion and protection of the
knowledge related to these places. It is suggested to proceed the
same way at other towns where these vestiges are found.
archeological research gives conclusions, the following step will be to
design and plan the highlighting of these archeological sites,
but that will be a long-term work yet. The archeological research, the
conservation, and its responsible touristic implementation would
be a way to keep them and becoming them known not only right around and
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