A 2,300-year-old architectural and astronomical complex in the Chincha Valley, Peru

Charles Stanish, Henry Tantaleán, Benjamin T. Nigra, Laura Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Recent archaeological research on the south coast of Peru discovered a Late Paracas (ca. 400-100 BCE) mound and geoglyph complex in the middle Chincha Valley. This complex consists of linear geoglyphs, circular rock features, ceremonial mounds, and settlements spread over a 40-km2 area. A striking feature of this culturally modified landscape is that the geoglyph lines converge on mounds and habitation sites to form discrete clusters. Likewise, these clusters contain a number of paired line segments and at least two U-shaped structures that marked the setting sun of the June solstice in antiquity. Excavations in three mounds confirm that they were built in Late Paracas times. The Chincha complex therefore predates the better-known Nasca lines to the south by several centuries and provides insight into the development and use of geoglyphs and platform mounds in Paracas society. The data presented here indicate that Paracas peoples engineered a carefully structured, ritualized landscape to demarcate areas and times for key ritual and social activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7218-7223
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - 20 May 2014


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