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Chan Chan / Chimu Culture / Chimu Peru

The year 850 AD marks the beginning of the fabled Ming Dynasty in China.

In about that same year, Chan Chan - what is now known as the largest Pre-Columbian city in all of the Americas - was in the midst of its growing boom on the opposite side of the globe.

UNESCO World Heritage Site - Chimu, Peru

The Capital of the Chimu Culture in Peru
Chan Chan Peru Chimu
photos courtesy of Wikipedia

Built by the Chimu Culture
, this immense adobe city is recognized today as a world-class archeological site.

In 1986, over 1,100 years after its construction, this capital of the Chimu Empire in Central Peru, South America, was added to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.



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Unlike some of the more well-known tourist archeological sites in Peru such as Machu Picchu or Cusco, this main city of the Chimu Culture was a full-blown city occupied by all levels of Chimu society.

The Chimu Empire - Chimu, Peru

Preceded by the Moche Civilization, the Chimu Empire had a long history and lasted 1,000 years, about ten times as long as its conqueror, the powerful Inca Empire (1438-1532).

Chimu Empire
Chan Chan Peru Chimu Map
This Chimu, Peru, empire covered the western shore of South America from about the current frontier of Ecuador in the north down to the middle of present-day Peru.

In 1470 AD the Chimor Culture was overtaken and absorbed by the Incas.

Chan Chan Peru - The Site

With an estimated population of 30,000 people and covering an area of aproximately 3 x 2-1/2 miles (20 sq. kilometers), this center of population certainly was one of the most impressive cities of its time.

Located near the present-day city of Trujillo on the coastal plains of the country of Peru, the dominant features of the landscape around Chan Chan in modern times is predominantly stark desert.
Chimu Civilization
Chan Chan Peru Chimu civilization map
The Extent of Chimor Power

As in all of Peru, the coastal desert plains suffer an almost total lack of rainfall accented by an occasional torrential and destructive storm.

Nearby valleys, however, with their river-irrigated fields produce all types of lush tropical fruit and foliage, the extent being limited only by the area of irrigation.

A period of heavy rains followed by drought apparently weakened the strength of Chimu Culture and led to its desintegration.

What to See

Built of adobe (sun-baked mud bricks), the 10,000 structures composing the city have gradually eroded to what is seen today. The still impressive remnants of Chimu Culture palaces and temples as well as other immense stuctures, however, can easily be seen at this time.

Chan Chan's important cultural features and historical value, a well as easy access from the city of Trujillo, make this site well worth a day's visit for any tourist to Peru.

Protecting the Future of Chan Chan and Other Archaeological Sites

Some experts estimate that Peru has over 100,000 archaelogical sites. Protecting these sites from environmental damage and encroachment of civilization is a monumental task.

The difficulty in protecting mud-brick sites such as Chan Chan and many others is on ongoing challenge.

Archaelogists are now using drone cameras not only to unveil more sites but also to preserve images of existing sites for future restoraion.

In this video, drones are shown photographing various sites in Peru including Chan Chan.

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