Sechin culture: A milestone in Peruvian archaeology

00:00 | Casma (Ancash region), Jul. 3.

The discovery of Sechin archaeological complex 82 years ago made archaeologist Julio C. Tello reconsider his theory that Chavin was the mother-culture of Andean civilization in Peru.

Known as Cerro Sechin (Sechin Hill) or Sechin de las Estelas (Sechin of Steles), the archaeological site is located in Casma Valley near Sechin and Casma rivers, 10 km away from the coast.

Archaeological and historic milestone

According to archaeologist Lizardo Tavera, even though its discovery is deemed to have occurred in 1937, the father of Peruvian archaeology, Julio C. Tello, had previous contact with it 18 years before.

Upon his return from an expedition to the Chavin de Huantar site, he visited Tabon Estate —located in Casma Valley— whose owner used to collect pre-Hispanic pieces extracted from cemeteries nearby.

Some of these objects were donated to State-run San Marcos University's Archaeology Museum, run by Tello. 

On 28 June, 1937, he headed to the Marañon River basin to continue his research on Chavin civilization, which until then was considered the cornerstone of Peruvian cultures.  

Tello passed through Casma again and stopped at Tabon Estate to inquire about the pre-Columbian pieces he had seen in previous years.

The new owner had kept only a medium-sized rectangular stone —with an image carved above it— at the estate.

This lithic artifact amazed Tello, who decided to stay for a while to look up further information about such vestige, which he deemed additional evidence of his theory about Chavin's importance and cultural influence.

On July 1, Julio C. Tello explored Sechin Hill and unearthed several archaeological vestiges. Then, after hearing about a nearby archaeological site, he headed to Indio Bravo (Brave Indian) sector.

Tello excavated the area and discovered several half-buried monoliths that resembled Indio Bravo —a monolith of a warrior showing his teeth and curly hair.

The more he excavated the more steles he found. They made up a perimeter wall that surrounded various adobe structures and walls featuring colorful mythological-like figures.

Subsequent studies showed that Sechin site's construction predates the Chavin de Huantar temple, which proves the original existence of the civilization settled at Casma Valley.


Published: 7/3/2019