UNESCO declares Peru's Chankillo as world heritage site

10:37 | Fuzhou (China), Jul. 27.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Tuesday declared the ceremonial center and solar observatory of Chankillo —located in the coastal area of Ancash region— as a world heritage site.

In the decision issued by the Committee —whose 44th session is taking place in Fuzhou, a city in southeastern China— Chankillo was declared as an archaeoastronomical site.

According to a description on the UNESCO website, Chankillo is an archaeological complex with ritual, astronomical, administrative, and defensive functions. Its astronomical function defines its universal value.

Through ample evidence, it has been shown that, between 500-200 BC, people at the site made direct observations of the movement of the Sun with the purpose of regulating religious festivals and seasonal events.

Unlike other observatory sites around the world, which mark unequivocally only one or two dates, solar observations at Chankillo covered the span of its annual cycle.

Through sunrise and sunset observations of solar alignments over an artificial horizon, it was possible to identify with great precision the dates of solstices and equinoxes, as well as any other date throughout the seasonal cycle of the sun. 

In this sense, the Chankillo astronomical observatory is unique and exceptional, not only in Peru or in the Americas, but worldwide.

Chankillo is found in Peru's Ancash region, 365 km north of Lima, and 15 km from the Pacific coast. 

Lying to the west of the Andes mountain range, this is one of the world's driest deserts, a landscape of foothills, valleys, and plains that has geologically remained relatively unchanged since the Pleistocene.  

In detail, Chankillo lies adjacent to the irrigated valley of the southern branch of the Casma/Sechin River basin, facing the rugged foothills of the western slopes of the Andes. 

Like many of Peru's coastal valleys, the Casma and Sechin valleys have long been an oasis for settlement in an otherwise inhospitable desert.


Published: 7/27/2021
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