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THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL COMPLEX
OF THE PINCHUDOS AND
THE CHACHAPOYAS

Rio Abiseo National Park, a huge reserve of 274,520 has located in the San Martin region of Peru, whose territories form part of the Eastern Peruvian Cordillera (Peruvian Andes), presents a predominantly warm-wet climate that varies according to altitude, from tropical to pleasantly temperate. However, the weather in this mostly mountainous landscape is cold on the high mountain boundary and the eastern edge of the Andean plateau. There are traces of old mountain ranges in this area dating from the times of the "super-continent", when the American continent was joined to Africa, Oceania, India and the Antarctic according to the theory by Alfred Wegener (1880 - 1930), who proposed the idea that at a certain period in planetary evolution all the Earth's continents had been joined in one land mass that he named Pangea. This split up into fragments at a given moment in the past, creating the present appearance of the planet. Moreover, these fragments are still shifting.

The Park was created on August 11, 1983, and is located exactly in the district of Huicungo, Mariscal Caceres Province, San Martin Region, with a surface area of 274,520 ha and a height above sea level ranging from 350 to 4,349.

Within this major area lies the archaeological complex of Los Pinchudos, which was abandoned a long time ago and was recently re-discovered. It shows clear Chachapoyas influence, is located about 2.5 km west of Gran Pajaten and includes a funerary complex of well-preserved tombs in exquisitely built chambers that are placed within sepulchers consisting of circular piles of stones or located in cliff-face niches. This area was described by Federico Kauffmann Doig (1980) and Lennon (1985); on the latter date, the "Rio Abiseo National Park Research Project" traced maps of the tomb sites, collecting ceramic and textile fragments and briefly inspecting the whole funerary area, analyzing the human remains in situ.

In 1985 documentation of this site continued, observing major deterioration in Building N5 due to a natural rockfall that caused structural fissures endangering the stability of this building. Structures 1,2, and 5 are in urgent need of stabilization. Structure N1 is still standing, but there is some evidence of deterioration.

Structure N2 has also suffered the effects of a fire. This structure has partially collapsed, with the north wall almost totally in ruins and only the western section still standing, although there is a great fissure in the central part of the western wall.

Structure N3 has also partially collapsed. This structure has two superimposed chambers and its northern wall, with the entrance to the lower chamber through structure N4. Despite the good state of conservation of the roof beams, they have suffered considerable damage over recent years at the hands of unauthorized visitors. The ceiling-floor of this structure has collapsed, presumably from bearing the weight of human beings. There is evidence of excavation in the floor of the structure at the point where it is anchored to the cliff, and there are also signs that some of the beams have been chewed by animals, which probably accelerated the destruction of this area. In the period from 1985 to July 1986, trespassers have looted one of the sites in the Pinchudos sector.

Structure N5 is the main funeral chamber, and is the most worrying building due to its state of deterioration. It has smooth, finely finished walls, testifying to the importance, long period of permanence and careful planning of this monument. The records of the human remains carried out by Dr. Dennis Van Gerven indicated the presence of collagen in the bone tissue, showing that the special micro-climate of this area has favored the conservation of organic substances.

On top of Structure N1, the remains of two adults, one of them quite young, and a small child were found. In the second area studied by Dr. Van Gerven the remains of at least two other individuals were identified, one of which was apparently an adult male identified thanks to the osteophytosis shown by the lumbar vertebra, and the other was a young adult female.

In the records of Pinchudos Bajo, there is a skull corresponding to a boy of about 6 years of age, and in the upper crevice of Pinchudos Bajo the remains of a male and a female have been identified, one of them corresponding to a secondary burial. In the lower chamber of Pinchudos Bajo, bone fragments of an 18 month-old child were found, plus remains of a four-year-old.

Additionally, nude anthropomorphic wooden figurines have been found in good condition, mainly due to the micro-climate in the area and to a special treatment that was apparently applied to their surface, a kind of protective paint sealing the fissures in the wood; it is now known that due to their natural biodegradability, the preservation of these kinds of wooden objects is highly difficult.

If you wish to visit Rio Abiseo National Park, especially the above monuments, you should obtain the corresponding permits from the government organization that administrates this National Park, the "INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE RECURSOS NATURALES", at its head office in Lima, and co-ordinate your trip with the INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE CULTURA, a government body in charge of watching over the Archaeological Heritage of the country. We recommend you make your entry through the La Libertad Region, where you should take a light plane that will fly you to a town in the Province of Pataz called Chagual, from which you will have to walk three hours to the district of Pias, and another three to the village of Ventanas, from where you can reach Gran Pajaten and this monument of Los Pinchudos; all the expeditions carried out in this area start from the La Libertad Region of the city of Trujillo due to better logistics and access areas.


 
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