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The Chavín Culture

Chavín was a South American civilization existing before written history.

The Chavín Culture set up a trade system as well as developed an agrarian system by 900 BCE, according to some approximations and based on archeological discoveries.

The Chavín era covered a period from 900 to 300 BCE (see Cultures of Peru and Timeline Chart).

Significant archaeologic objects have been discovered at a location referred to as Chavín in present day Peru at a height of 3,177 meters (10,423 feet).

The most well-known archaeological site belonging to the Chavín Civilization is Chavín de Huantar, in the Andean uplands north of Lima.


It is considered to have been constructed about 900 BC and was most likely the spiritual meeting place of the Chavín community.

It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. 

The temple is built of white granite and black limestone
, neither of which is found near the Chavin temple site. These kinds of materials would have to have been hauled from great distances instead of making use of nearby rock quarries.

The Chavín civilization was furthermore ahead of its time in various fields such as metal working, soldering, and even temperature regulation.

Chavín Art -

This interesting culture offers the earliest extensive, identifiable artistic style within the Andes Mountain region.

The Chavín artisans employed early innovative methods to create striking, imaginative gold articles.


Chavín artwork adorns the walls of the temple and features carvings and sculptures as well as pottery.


Indigenous artists portrayed uncommon objects like jaguars and birds of prey instead of regional plant life and wildlife.


The Chavín religious system featured human transformation assisted by the ingestion of hallucination-producing substances.

The Chavín style dominated Peruvian art and architecture for hundreds of years and influenced all that came after.
  • But what was the exact nature of this style?

  • How did Chavín civilization develop, and

  • Why did it eventually collapse?

New answers are emerging after discoveries made over the past two decades. I recommend reading the following books:

Art of the Andes: From Chavín to Inca

"...the best single-volume introduction to Andean art and architecture."
Editor Review

Chavín: Art, Architecture and Culture

"This book is the first in more than a decade to provide new information on the ChaviĀ­n phenomenon of ancient Peru."
Editor Review

Chavín and the Origins of the Andean Civilization

Review: "A complete overview of 60 years research..."

4.0 out of 5 stars
"This book is a very good overview of what the Chavín culture is and what the scientists can explain about its origin, its growth and its fall.

"All the theories, hypothesis and research processes are detailed by one of the greatest specialists of that pre-hispanic civilisation of the ancient Peru : how the more ancient civilisations could have influenced the Chavín birth, and what more known civilisations as Nazca, Huari or Inca, have taken from the Chavín culture.

"Furthermore, this book can be read easily by everyone. "

Vincent Thieren (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
Chavin Culture
Editor Review

"Drawing on his own excavations at Chavín and elsewhere, Burger presents a study of this ancient culture and its influences, illustrated with photographs, drawings, maps and plans - and a new section of colour plates for this expanded edition."

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