Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Great Wall of Peru

“..he was preparing to defend himself against them, by casting up walls round about and preparing places of resort” (Alma 52:6) “And there they did fortify against the Lamanites from the west sea, even unto the east, it being a day’s journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:7)

The Ancient Peruvians built a great wall many feet wide, beginning at the coast, and extending for many miles across the mountains and desert toward the east. The wall is north of Huambacho, and though now in a state of ruin, it is considered one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in South American archaeology. Even so, it is rarely mentioned in the literature of the Andes, and is poorly investigated in the field by archaeologists. Perhaps as much as 100 to 150 miles in length, it cannot compare with China's Great Wall, but was a masterpiece of construction. Built at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet in extremely rugged terrain, it runs along high ridges and is studded with stone forts at strategic intervals.

This wall runs parallel to the Santa River along the beautiful valley of the Santa in the Callejon (corridor) of the Huaylas. Agreed to by archaeologists, it was obviously constructed to keep southern invading armies from overrunning the northern areas of Peru, and was strategically built along precipitous terrain at two miles altitude and gave its defenders the benefit of high ground. Any attacking force would have great difficulty fighting uphill to the wall.

Not observable from the ground because of the rough and often unpenetratable terrain, Shippee and Johnson discovered it and photographed it from the air in 1931, and considered it one of the wonders of the world. Their numerous photographs are now on file with the Huntington Museum and the Smithsonian.The wall was built in B.C. times by the ancient Peruvians, and along its length there were circular and rectangular forts at irregular intervals on both sides of the wall, with most inset on the top of small hills where they were nearly invisible from southern approaches. The fourteen forts overall, the larger ones were located on the south side of the river opposite the wall, with the largest fort being about 300 feet by 200 feet with walls fifteen feet high and five feet thick. Some were of piled stone construction while others were adobe. In many places the wall averages seven feet high and reached 20-30 feet in height where it crossed gullies and stream beds.

A wall with places of resort (a term meaning fort), that began at the West Sea and went inland for many miles, as Alma and Helaman described it, matches perfectly this Great Wall of Peru.


  1. Most interesting. You mention Shippee and Johnson. Who are they and where can I find pictures of this wall across Peru?

  2. In 1931, Geologist Robert Shippee and George R. Johnson, a Lt. with the U.S. Navy, undertook a pioneering aerial photo expedition over Peru. They took thousands of pics (vertical, oblique, and ground photos and some movie film) of the settlement of ancient Peru. Many of the photos have survived and are available to scholars. The photographs were of high quality for the time and the expedition, sponsored by the American Geographical Society, was highly publicized at the time. Before these aerial pics, no one knew of the Great Wall of Peru, and its discovery from the air made quite a stir among archaeologists at the time.

  3. Yet another verification of the Nephites in South America. Good job.