Among rock shelters, ceremonial structures, houses, terraces, and funerary chambers is the cemetery of Los Pinchudos, a key feature of the National Park of Río Abiseo. Los Pinchudos was the ancient burial ground of the Chachapoyas, a people who once thrived between the eastern flank of the Andean Cordillera and the lowland rainforests of the Amazon Basin. The cemetery dates to the 13th century and contains eight ornate clay and stone burial chambers, known as chulpas, topped with wooden roofs decorated with colorful patterns and anthropomorphic sculptures. While the National Park was recognized as a Protected Natural Area by Supreme Decree in 1983, and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990, continual seismic activity, exposure to the harsh tropical environment, and vandalism had brought the structures at Los Pinchudos to the verge of collapse.
2000 and 2002 World Monuments Watch
By the late 1990s the site was considered to be in a state of ruin. Preservation goals were focused on consolidation and conservation of the remaining historical fabric to protect the site’s integrity and present it to the public in a meaningful way. With assistance from American Express, in 2000 WMF sponsored an emergency conservation and structural stabilization project. Although the expert team had to work under extremely perilous conditions along the side of the cliff into which the cemetery was built, stabilization was a success. While these emergency actions were successful, the site was listed on the Watch for a second time in 2002 to raise awareness for additional conservation work required at the site and the creation of a permanent site management plan for Los Pinchudos to assure continuing care and maintenance.
Los Pinchudos is one of 36 archaeological sites within Río Abiseo National Park. The cemetery displays some of the most important and representative examples of ancient Peruvian funeral architecture as well as unique pictorial and sculptural art in wood and stone. These surviving structures and their decorations preserve the extraordinary iconographic language of a pre-colonial, ancient society.