Sechín, a valley of warriors
Translated and adapted by Nick Rosen
The first time I went to Sechín, I did so with my friend Gabo, a native Chimbotano and a true northerner, after practicing underwater fishing nearby. Since then, whenever I have been in this grand complex, whose total area is over five hectares, I have felt a strange sensation.
In Sechín, one finds himself surrounded by carob trees, cacti, lizards and hills in a hot, desert valley. In the middle of this, there rises a small square structure formed by enclosures and colorful walls, composed of stone and adobe, surrounded by a wall made of stone monoliths.
On the face of this perimeter wall, the stones have carved representations of ancient priests and warriors. Surrounding by entrails and other body parts, these figures stare at you defiantly.
We are near Casma, a rich agricultural valley, where fruit, cotton and rice are all produced. Some of the local agricultural products can be sampled at nearby restaurants, famous for their duck ceviche and turkey pepián.
Casma is, along with Chimbote, one of the principal locales in Áncash, and the access point for the sierr as well as the beautiful beaches of Tortugas, a traditional summer resort for Chimbotana families.
Five kilometers before arriving to Casma, there is a turn-off that leads to the political and administrative center of the Sechín culture, more than 3,500 years old, which was discovered by Juan C. Tello in 1937.
The scenes, which represent priests, warriors, victims and occasionally animals, show a relationship between the sacrifices and the climate- especially rain and the sea, which is located 10 kilometers away.
The stones that form Sechín were extracted from some of the hills surrounding the valley, which is where you will also find Sechín Alto, a pyramid with the largest base in the Americas. On the stones, the warlike scenes and characters in question, of which there are some 350 still preserved on the site, reflect the rituals of death and sacrifice that the culture practiced.
The Sechín complex forms part of a larger archaeological circuit that includes sites like El Huaro, Culebras, Moxeque, Las Aldas and the valley of Nepeña, as well as a rare treat: the ancient astronomic center of Chanquillo. They’re all located just 375 kilometers north of Lima.
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