Posted by: Ali | January 9, 2010


Today I went to visit the Wari ruins.  Wari was a really big empire before the Incas came around, and their capital was quite close to Ayacucho, and it was also called Wari (Wari is also sometimes spelled Huari).

Their capital apparently housed something like 50,000 people, but the site is mostly unexcavated and according to archaeologists, only about 10% of the city has been revealed, the rest is totally covered in dirt and stuff.

Wari Empire

As you can see, the Wari Empire stretched across much of what is modern-day Peru (the NE section of Peru is all jungle).  Historians apparently didn’t realize until recently how important the Wari Empire was, because the Incas pretty much assimilated the culture and erased everything else, so to historians the Incas look smart and important and the Wari are overlooked.

Map of the Wari Complex

There was a small museum onsite that talked about the Wari empire which is where I learned most of this stuff.  It included the above map which is supposedly of the site we were at, but in reality the site looked nothing like that – it was pretty much not excavated and there were cacti growing everywhere, so you couldn’t even look around and get a general idea of whether you were standing in a room or not.

In the background you can see a stone wall

For example, one of the paths led to a patch of cactus and we could see in the distance some ruins, but there was no way we were going to get close enough to even see what it was.

Hunk of Rock

Can anyone guess what the above rock is?  Let me tell you it was one of the highlights of Wari, and it can be found on the map at #2.  Any guesses?  It’s a “sacrificial stone” where they did human sacrifices!  Cool, eh?  Kinda reminds me of the stone table in Narnia.

The Grand Temple

The Grand Temple

This is the Grand Temple, and it is in the shape of a D.  I’m not quite sure what the significance of the D shape is, but it sure is D-shaped.  It was really nifty to actually go to the museum later and see a model of this area so you could see a general overview.

Model of the Grand Temple

Funerary Chambers

Funerary Chambers

This was also really cool.  The Wari (and the Incas) were known for their practice of mummifying their ancestors, or at least the important ones, and then bringing them out to parties and worshiping them.  Kinda weird, I know, but they believed that they would be able to gain the wisdom and power of the ancestors by doing this.

The photo above was of a bunch of graves the archaeologists found and excavated.  Note the very dark tunnel-thing in the back of the photo.  Guess what?  It’s a tunnel!  Although it is closed off to visitors, it is a very important part of the Wari complex – that is where they kept their secret stash of mummies, the ones that were only brought out for very special occasions.  The Wari thought that these mummies were so important that when the empire fell (it is believed that the Wari were attacked suddenly and were either killed outright or forced to flee from the city), they took the time to collapse the tunnel so that their mummies couldn’t be stolen.  Neat, eh?

Diagram of Funeral Chambers

View of the Inside of the Funeral Tunnel


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