Cultural Heritage: Bandurria, Peru and Chotuna- Chornancap, Peru

Located on South America’s Pacific coast with a population of twenty-seven million, Peru borders Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile as well as Colombia and Ecuador. The Amazon takes up about fifty percent of the nation’s territory and includes the Amazon River system, which holds twenty percent of the world’s fresh water, making it the largest amount on the planet.  Peru is made up of many different cultural influences but is mostly influenced by the Spanish culture which can be seen prominently in the use of Spanish as their main language. This aspect gives Peru an interesting sense of culture seen in their arts, food, architecture, celebrations and in archeological historical sites. Peru’s most famous archeological site is known as Machu Picchu, and people travel from all over the world to see its wonders. However, Peru has over 65 other sites representing different structures of fortresses, temples, stadiums, pyramids and other various outlets of culture that not many people are aware of (Encyclopedia of Nations, 2013). Sadly many are not being preserved properly due to the funds not being available and are at risk of being lost forever. Included in these at-risk sites, are areas known as Bandurria and Chotuna-Chornancap, which are both more obscure, lesser known sites. This glossary entry will outline information about the sites themselves, as well as the area around them and the actions that are currently being put into place to preserve their cultural heritage.

The site known as Bandurria is located in Huacho, province of Huaura. It is part of the  Department of Lima, which is also known as Small Beach. The area got its name after there was  irrigation leak of the Santa Rosa, causing floods to the surrounding areas. This leak is responsible for a lot of the damage to the site, which is dated back to the Late Archaic period, 4th-3rd millennium BC, and was discovered by Mr. Sunday Torero in 1973 (Archaeological site of Bandurria, 2008). The site consists of four pyramids that are over five thousand years old and range from heights of twenty-six to forty feet. The site also included ancient homes and cemeteries for the community of people that lived there (Sustainable Preservation, 2013). According to archaeologist Alejandro Chu Barrera, director of the Archaeological Project of Bandurria, it is considered the origin of ancient American civilization and the oldest site in Peru. A site known as Caral is often referred to as the oldest site, but several radiocarbon datings were done in the United States, which confirmed that Bandurria dates back from 3200 B.C., while Caral dates from 2900. Due to the site being so close to the coast, it can be assumed that the community of people living there relied on the marine life for survival (McDonnell, 2008). They also created a tradition of “reed and rush weaving”, which is a hands-on process of creating mats and baskets. Today, there is still a community of about twenty-three families who are living in the way of their ancestors and are living on the site. They are a highly impoverished community, that still continue to create mats and baskets to sell as handy crafts, but are barely surviving. They live behind mounds that lie directly above the site, which is destroying it. Since it is on an archeological site, it is protected by Peruvian law that prohibits the community from digging and installing basic living needs such as water and electricity. Alejandro Chu, the head of the excavations on the site created a happy solution to help the people of the community have more financial support, as well as protecting the site itself from being destroyed. He teamed up with an organization known as ‘Sustainable Preservation Initiative’ or SPI, which prides itself in preserving cultural heritage. They have a new program called “People not Stones” and they work to alleviate poverty and build the local economy as well. They work to create jobs through local businesses that have become reliant upon the preservation of archaeological sites. These archaeological sites are the only thing that is keeping their cultural heritage alive, and bringing tourists to these sites brings in money (Past Preservers, 2012). The project at Bandurria will develop an artisan’s centre, with a workshop for each family in the community located adjacent to the site. The new location just off the site will allow for necessary work to be done in order to get water and electricity to the community as well as protect the site from damages caused by living within it. The artisan’s centre will allow the communities to create more handicrafts, which they could then sell to tourists visiting the site. With this plan they hope to save the community from poverty and save the site from being destroyed (Sustainable Preservation, 2013).

The other at risk archeological site that SPI is working to preserve is Chotuna-Chornancap in Lambayeque, Peru. It is a 235-acre monumental temple complex series of Flat-topped adobe Pyramids, royal tombs, and temples- as well as sacrificial remains of victims- all dated back to about 900 CE (Megalithic, 2012).  Thirty-three bodies of sacrificial victims were found on the site, all young teenaged girls. It is believed that they were sacrificed to bring fertility to their failing crops and farmland. Another group of four water logged bodies were found in a flooded chamber. It is believed that the community was made up of a water cult and sacrificed the bodies in hopes of receiving more water for survival (National Geographic, 2009). The community that lives there now are in severe poverty and are living without electricity, a sewer system, or clean water. Despite their poverty, they wish to preserve the site of Chotuna. They are also skilled artisans like the community living at Bandurria. They specialize in weaving native cotton textiles, and if invested in, they could sell their works to visiting tourists as well. SPI is working to invest in these artisans, by constructing production facilities as well as a picnic and sales area by the site. By creating jobs and income for the community living in poverty, SPI’s project with ‘People not Stones’ will give the local community an economic incentive to preserve its cultural heritage (Sustainable Preservation, 2013).

SPI’s ‘People not Stones’ campaign is currently working on gaining the funds to put their ideas to preserve the archeological sites of Bandurria and Chotuna-Chornancap, as well as the indigenous communities living within them, into action. Their work is essential in the cultural heritage of these sites and Peru’s history.

Sydney Bouwers

Work Cited

“Peru: Encyclopedia of Nations” (2013),, Accessed Thursday, November 21, 2013, from, (

“Archaeological site of Bandurria” (2008),, Accessed October 19, 2013, from, ( )

“Bandurria, Peru” (2013)

McDonnell, Patrick. “Bandurria is the oldest Peruvian archaeological site” (2008),

“Help Save Archaeological Sites and Transform Lives” (2012),

“Chotuna-Chornancap- Ancient Temple in Peru” (2012)

“Dozens of Girls Found Sacrificed” (2009),

“Chotuna Chornancap, Peru” (2013),

This entry was posted in Amazon, Archaeological Project Bandurria, Bandurria, Chotuna- Chornancap, Huaura, human sacrifice, Peru, Pyramids, royal tombs, Sustainable Preservation Initiative. Bookmark the permalink.

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