The Watch

Cajamarquilla Archaeological Site

Lima, Peru
A Closer Look

Cajamarquilla Archaeological Site

2006 World Monuments Watch

A large urban center on the outskirts of Lima that reached its apogee on the eve of the Spanish conquest, Cajamarquilla was first settled by the Huari, whose culture flourished along the Peruvian coast ca. a.d. 400–600. The extensive remains of the city include blocks of mud-brick housing units and pyramids thought to have been grand residences of Huari warriors. From surviving occupation debris, it is clear that these ancient structures were appropriated by later peoples, including the Ychma, who moved into the area in the early second millennium, and the Inca, whose empire controlled most of the Andean region when the Spanish arrived in 1532. Although Peru’s Instituto Nacional de Cultura has recognized the importance of Cajamarquilla, the archaeological site has been treated with anything but respect. Land around the site is dotted with houses built by peasants fleeing the political violence wrought by the Shining Path, which engulfed much of the highland region during the 1980s and 1990s. Much of the site has been used as a latrine and dump as well as a grazing area. An estimated 25 percent of the site has already been destroyed and more is being lost annually through urban encroachment. Last update: December 2010

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