CERRO CENTRAL AND
THE CHACHAPOYAS CULTURE
During the 1985 excavations in Gran Pajaten Complex, the surrounding area was carefully examined, leading eventually to the discovery of other remains, including those of Cerro Central Complex, facing Gran Pajaten, on the left bank of the Montecristo river, towards the northwest.
The heights on which the complex is located are triangular-shaped with a plateau at the top. It is estimated that the "Cerro Central" complex has over 200 circular structures built on 4-meter-high terraces. The buildings are ornamented in the same way as some of those of the Gran Pajaten, and also with the same motifs, which are present in seven of the fifty buildings that have been inventoried, such is the magnitude of this settlement which is comparable in size only to the Gran Pajaten, this being a clear indication of the pre-Hispanic population density of the area.
Explorations of the eastern slopes in 1987 enabled the determination of the distribution and circulation features of the complexes in the area, also unearthing remains from other cultural groups that had once occupied this area, from Juanjui to the Abiseo basin area. Likewise, further exploration work has been done from Tarapoto, turning up rough pre-Hispanic pottery all over the area.
Another pre-Hispanic site is Huicungo, an area bordering with Juanjui city, where T-shaped axes with lateral notches characteristic of this area have been found. Some fragments of urns and jugs are present also. The research covers locations in the Corrientes and Huayabamba basins, these being the main tributaries of the Maraņon and Huallaga river systems.
Among other sites showing occupation and development are Shatuna, Utillo, Lusitania and Shatuna 2, forming a concentric development area around the confluence of the Abiseo and the Huayabamba; according to archaeologist Ravines, who visited this area in 1982, these sites are too distant from the Gran Pajaten, however, as the Abiseo river basin is still being explored and new sites may turn up establishing a link between the two basins, we conclude that there is no real indication that the two sites are not related; a report from Peruvian police officer Ranforte Panduro details the finding of archaeological sites in the locality of 2 de Mayo, east of Mt Golondrina, and recently of the Marcial Ruins, on the Montecristo river, this last providing proof that the population of the area originated in the low forest, and that their ancestors hailed from the Orinoco basin and traveling along the Casiquiari River network arrived at the Amazon, and from there moved to the Corrientes, Huallaga, Huallabamba and Montecristo rivers.
The base for the population of the area is considered to be the Huayabamaba River, that connecting with the Abiseo and the Montecristo, generated a process of population dispersion. This research therefore gives us a better idea of how this process took place, and motivates the further study of the historical development of the Amazon area, showing how important it was and that there is a clear need to deepen this research since the area has been largely unexplored until recent years.
The settlement process of the pre-Hispanic cultures that arrived in the Huayabamaba and Abiseo basins originated in very early prehistoric times, along the major corridors that formed part of the process of Amazonian cultural expansion.
The widespread discovery of T-shaped stone axes in the archaeological sites of Huicungo, Pachiza and Huayabamba, and the fact that they have also been found in La Playa and Pajaten, Pinchudos and Cerro Central, give evidence of distribution stemming from the low forest. Accordingly, the Huayabamba basin provided the greatest contribution of settlers in the development of settlements in the Abiseo area and the whole region, using the river network.
The stages of occupation of the buildings show a population sequence from local ceramics to the Huayabamba and early Montecristo styles, similar in shape to those of Tutishcainyo, Ananatuba and Marajoara; all of these areas being very close to each other in the Huayabamba basin.
The earliest occupation in the Pajaten site has been dated at 500 BC; however, studies of the Manachaqui cave enable the sequencing of occupation from 2200 BC through neighboring areas such as Lavesen, 1500 BC, Manachaqui, 800 BC, Suitacocha, 400 BC, Colpar, 200 AD, Empedrada, 700 AD and Poblano, 1532 AD, according to archaeologist Church in 1997.
All of the foregoing goes to show how widespread this culture was in the area, how early its first occupation took place, and how it presumably originated from the tribes inhabiting the low forest or from a clash of cultures, bearing in mind the similarities between the Fortress of Kuelap and the remains of the Gran Pajaten, both of which are now assumed to have belonged to the Chachapoyas Culture. All of these mysteries will be revealed when all these major complexes are finally rediscovered and thoroughly researched.