Monday, April 4, 2016

Pachacamac: The Larger Zarahemla Capital – Part I

While the previous posts have dealt with Pachacamac, the ancient city twenty miles south of Lima, Peru, as Zarahemla, it should be noted that when Mosiah arrived with the more righteous Nephites from the City and Land of Nephi around 200 B.C., we have no idea how many were in his colony. When they reached Zarahemla, they found an “exceedingly numerous” people (Omni 1:17), the descendants from the Mulek party that had left Jerusalem about ten years after Lehi.
    While we do not know the numbers of each, the so-called “Mulekites” or people of Zarahemla outnumbered those Nephites that came with Mosiah (Mosiah 25:2)—now this numbering includes all those who had gone back to the Land of Nephi and escaped the Lamanites in both Alma’s and Limhi’s groups, combined with the descendants of Nephi that were in the land of Zarahemla. In addition, The Lamanites were twice the number of all the Mulekites and Nephites in Zarahemla combined (Mosiah 25:3).
    Thus, we might conclude that there was an overall exceedingly large number of Nephites. This after they were joined by the Mulekites, and those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren (the evil priests of king Noah) and Lamanite daughters taken as wives, who “were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:12).
    The question then arises, where did all these people settle? While Pachacamac is a very large site, covering about 10 acres, it is highly unlikely that everyone would have fit in that area, even initially, let alone over the next 500 years or so of occupation of the area before teh final battles drove the Nephites into the north country. It is also possible that the City of Zarahemla was built after the arrival of Mosiah, since it is not called a city until about 87 B.C., about 40 yeras after Mosiah arrived there, and no doubt, by this time some 75 to 80 years later, there were more than one settlement in the immediate vicinity.
    Certainly, 20 miles northward, what is now Lima, had been started and eventually built into a huge complex of several huacas, one of the largest so far found being Huaca Pucllana.
Left: Larger foundation stones; Right: mudbrick stacked on top of the (yellow arrow) foundation stones at Pachacamac
    It should be of some interest that the initial building of Pachacamac was with the use of large foundation stones, with mudbrick on top in a pyramid building period built entirely with "adobitos" (small adobe bricks) perfectly aligned, in a technique called "bookseller" because they look like books ordered on shelves.
    This construction technique allowed their constructions and temples to resist the constant earthquakes that plague the coastal regions of the Andes. In this method, clay bricks were placed side by side as if they were books on a shelf, but always leaving a space between them, which gave a certain "flexibility" for the bricks during earthquakes. Because they are so bonded, the bricks found spaces between them and could move as the waves of the earthquake without destroying any part of the wall.
Stacked adobe mudbricks in the “adobitos” (meaning small adobe bricks) ‘Bookseller” style at Huaca Pucllana in Lima and other sites in the greater Lima area
    It is amazing to think that they had complete control of its territory, knowledge of natural events and were able to develop such technology. A proof of that system efficiency is the fact that Lima has already been hit by very strong earthquakes that destroyed many modern buildings, while the Huaca Pucllana bookseller construction remained basically intact.
    One can only imagine where such knowledge came from. Perhaps when Nephi was called up on the mountain to converse with the Lord, “I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things” (1 Nephi 18:3). Perhaps this was one of the things that the Lord taught Nephi, for no other building people that we know of used a “bookseller” style of construction, specifically in earthquake prone areas in all of history.
    During this period of construction were also the Huaca San Marcos, Huaca Concha, Middendorft, Huaca Potosi Alto, and Huaca Pucllana, the latter sites built entirely with mudbrick, suggesting they were built afterward—or suggesting they were an expanded part of the construction of the region around Pachacamac.
In what is now called Lima, there have been numerous distinct city or developments found, including Magdalena del Mar (known as Huaca Huantille), Miraflores (known as Huaca Pucllana), San Borja, San Miguel (known as Tres Palos or Maranga), with the fifth, Pachacamac in Lurin, considered part of this overall development
In addition to these sites, there are dozens of other major sites, many of which became the victims of Lima sprawl and now lay buried beneath the city, yet there are numerous sites to be seen and some parts of dozens of others scattered throughout Rimac, Lima and the Lurin valleys, such as Huaca Concha at Maranga which dates to the Lima culture in 100 A.D., and was almost completely destroyed when the building of the Monumental or Olympic Stadium San Marcos (UNMSM) when it was built in 1941, and completely eradicated with the remodeling of the stadium in 1993-1994, and Middendorf when part of the structure was cut to make way for the Progress Avenue (now Venezuela) linking Lima and Callao in 1924.
    Many archaeological sites have been neglected or destroyed with the city sprawl of Lima. Fortunately, this district recently elected a mayor who has been instrumental in changing the long period of neglect to this area. 
    One huge site in Lima is called Huaca Pucllana and was occupied by the Ischma (Ychsma) people, which is the name that the people of Lima’s valleys referred to themselves after the earlier Wari empire ended; however, the site was likely built by the preceding so-called Lima Culture which dates to 200 B.C. (during the period known as the Early Intermediate and the beginning of the Middle Horizon, and coeval with the Moche, Nazca, Recuay and Huarpa cultures).
    This pyramid complex was among green farmland, on the outer edge of the Maranga complex along the coast 15 miles northwest of Pachacamac in an area today called Miraflores.
Huaca Huantille, pyramid was the main part of the Senorio de Magdalena, a complex that included five other huacas which are now gone under the buildings of the city of Lima
    By the time some excavation was done, more than 2/3 of the site complex had been stripped away over the past 40 years to looting and expansion. Its current size is about eleven thousand square meters, making the original around 34,000-square-feet in total size. 
    Its original construction was an architectural ensemble built from embankments with land fills and boulders, walls and surface at the top or mud walls (adobones) which was the construction technique of the area during the period. The east facade, which is the best preserved, is constructed of overlapping platforms that give a pyramidal shape.  
    On these platforms hearths were found with evidence of animal offerings (cuy, camelids) and agricultural products (peanuts, corn, grasses). Also, polychrome walls of blue and white, gray, with geometric designs in low relief were found. Its central section is organized in rooms, patios, plazas, stairs and passages. The northern section constitutes the main facade and is linked to a central access stairway to the square, and with overlapping platforms still buried.
    It was connected by roads with other monumental sites of the time, within a few miles with the huacas of Mateo Salado, Huaca Tres Palos and some of Parque de Las Leyendas that are part of the complex of Maranga.
(See the next post, “Pachacamac: The Larger Zarahemla Capital – Part II,” for more information on the Nephite capital and its locatioin and the development of other parts of the city of Zarahemla)

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