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Tallán cemetery
What San Miguel de Tangarará had before  its Spanish foundation.

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By Nelson Peñaherrera Castillo

San Miguel de Tangarará Village is located 24 km or 15 miles NW away Sullana City, 20 minutes by car, and this is how it looks like currently.
Photo by César Rivas for G&R.

MARCAVELICA, Peru - The history of Tangarará did not begin where it is located now. The actual town was built after  an El Niño event in 1925 increased Chira River erasing the site of the Spanish foundation by Conqueror Francisco Pizarro, maybe August 15th, but definetly 1532.

What we know now is Pizarro never built a city. Although the foundation act was staged and the first Mass in South America was celebrated, it was no time to plan a city, but it was actually named San Miguel, and it was an outpost in the conquest process of Inca empire instead, then shocked by a deep political secession.

FACTORTIERRA.NET: The four foundations of San Miguel.

"The Spaniards stayed just for two years because they did build a city in Monte de los Padres,"  cultural promotor Milton Murguía Calderón remembers, who is also in charge of a room working like a museum, which main task is telling what happened before the Spaniards arrived into.

The project was managed with Jamer Castro Barranzuela, another neighbor of him passionated by the history of the town.

In fact, it is known that after the foundation in Tangarará, Chira Valley, the Spaniards moved to the site known now as Piura La Vieja, La Matanza (Morropón), already upper Piura Valley. Before departuring, Pizarro had to put down a pressumed rebelion  of many local caciques, Tangara Arak (possibly from Tallán "River's Rim") among them, who died burnt  alive wit other 12 others.

What happened before 1532 has been a kind of enigma until the archeological research, started up in 2001 by Archaeologists César santos and Cinthia Seminario, were revealing the first pieces of a puzzle, what even today is still incomplete, then Murguía and Castro are in charge of collecting.

Perhaps the most interesting ones are many female and child bones, those could be 1520, a little more than a decade before the official arrival of the Spaniards, and three holed clay pieces, 15-18 cm or 5'9-7'9 inches length and 15 cm or 5'9 inches contour, possibly representing a woman.

Murguía call them "the figurines" because their similitude to the pure-gold sculpture found in Callingará Mount, Frías District (Ayabaca),  in mid-20th century. The difference among both figures, after the matter, is Frías'  has two hanging earrings  while Tangarara's seems to have a diadem  with two little prominences like horns.

The archaeologists believe the Frías' Figurine can be Vicús origin, while Tangarará's can be Tallán origin. The trick is between the end of Vicús Period and Chira's pieces date could be a hole of nine centuries.

The possibly ffemale figures and molded in holed clay, found during excavations made by Tangarará neighbors  for improving their homes. The last one seems to have a sediment block on its head and could not belong to the original work.
FACTORTIERRA.NET's Contributing Archaeologists Daniel Davila believes they pertain to Piura Style (1100 to 1470 A.D.)
Photos by César Rivas for G&R.

The Female River
Murguía assures the meaning of the pottery work has not been explained until right now, but it could be infered  the ancients felt a strong  connection to femininity.

"Chira River, the former Turicarami [as it was named in Tallán Language], would be similar to a woman,"  he tells. "The ancesttors said the water colored in red  ebery month,  like a menstruation was about."

There is no explanation to the phenomenom, but it is necessary to remember  the medium course of Chira has a mix of sandy, clayed, and silty soils. It probably can cause  the colorization.

Back to Talláns, this representation of femininity could be linked to Moon's cult (known as Shi), what determined the fertility. and wen you are an inhabitant in a valley limited by a long desert strip, this is a critical spot for your survival.

"Also, it is told  the Chira falls in love to the men who take a bath into its water until now, whom catches," Murguía tells. "All the drowned ones s into the river are males; you don't find any woman."

But we have to point out a habit in Rural Piura is  the men go down to take a bath alone or sometimes with other men into rivers, creeks or canals. The women following this practice alone are very few, but it is usual to see them in company of their male couples or their kids.

Anoter fact to analyze is the actual name of the river was assigned by the Spaniards -Talláns called it Turicarami-  recognizing the only local cacique whom they had pardoned the life. Until now, the Chira lastname (and the variations La Chira and De La Chira) persists  in Sullana Area as well as a big part of Piura's Coast.

Unburied bones  when a woman of Sann Miguel de Tangarará tried to build a latrine in her house.
Photo by César Rivas for G&R.

There are Huacos Wherever You Cabe
Ancient Talláns used to settle down  at river's rim and leave the heights for their cemeteries,"  Murguía explains.

The issue is the Talláns also had to deal with El Niño events, those bring water overloads on. This climatologic anomalie is one of the determinant factors of Piura's inhabitants life until now, starting with  the alteration of their spaces to live.

The actual San Miguel de Tangarará is an almost one-century-old version, after the heavy rains in 1925 flooded  the town formed around the Spanish, and Indian maybe, foundation. As four centuries of the fact was observed in 1932, the authorities organized a settlement as they could around an obelisk where is a conmemorative plate and the replica of the replica  of the cross that Pizarro used  to found San Miguel. The replica is inside the site museum and the original one is supposed to be  at the Museum of the Nation in San Borja, Lima.

And due to the pressure of the 400th anniversary, the actual San Miguel de Tangarará ended to build on the ancient Tallán cemetery, where pottery and bones are buried or on exhibition at the site's museum.

"Everybody knows when you excave in Tangarará or ¡the nearby town of] Santa Sofía, you ever find huacos [ceremonial pottery], but more in Tangarará," one of FACTORTIERRA.NET scientific producers watches.

And the theory is right. Added to mummies and pottery, Murguía assures alleged Inca stone batons  were found. And if they were not Incas,  what people could use them as offensive weapons?

"What we have got is only the decime part  of what was here some time ago," he estimates. "It's said the rest was brought by the estate-owners," who managed the area until 1968.

And that creates a new controversy: if  all archeological area is untouchable, and San Miguel de Tangarará is on one of them (many time before it knew),  what to do with their habitants? For the moment, they can continue living  in the zone but under committment of notifying Murguía and Castro if they find some archeological vestige.

Actual Tangarará Main Square , that was not the site of foundation by Francisco Pizarro (1532), but a re-staging made for the 400th anniversary  of the fact, not keeping historical rigor.
Photo by César Rivas for G&R.

But they were not enough living close to rivers' rim. Now it is known the Talláns were capable to dam the water of that rivers to guarantee the liquid stock.

About 300 meters or 984 feet away to the south of Tangarará Main Square,  it exists evidence of a dam possibly made by the Talláns, what Chira River fills or empties with sediment according to its loads pattern. Let's remember when the Spaniards  made the ffourth foundation of San Miguel, in 1583, they located it in front of tacalá's Tallan Dam in Piura River, which no evidence remains today.

About 100 meters or 328 feet behind the rim, there is also a buried structure that could be a huaca (sacred site) over what the first Spanish estate-house was built, that was used since 1968 as  the local agricultural cooperative's headquarters, and  now destroyed by the rains and the river's overloads.

Murguía assures beneath the soil crust there is a Pre-Hispanic  structure with walls and tunnels even.

It is necessary to excave  archeologically the place to confirm or discard the fact. However the dimension of  the pressumed building  could be 8-10 times  bigger than reported in Chalacalá Baja, as FACTORTIERRA.NET published.

Only after that procedure  it wil be possible  to understand what type of legacy  is here, how the pieces kept by Murguía and Castro go together, and how  they could  be inserted into the value chain based upon the tourism.

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