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aBovE Building B15 seen from the north, once the layer of sand and rubble had been removed. Hallways, rooms, and mural paintings are all visible. These latter required conservation and received attention from Ychsma Project Chief Conservator Kusi Colonna-Preti (aBovE rIGHT). The yellow motif on a red background represents an anthropomorphic being (the head is missing), from the arms of which seem to flow streams of yellow and black liquid, perhaps a symbol of abundance and fertility.

found among the offerings. There can be no doubt, though, that the systematic destruction and deposition of the objects were undertaken by the local population, rather than the conquistadors. In this sense, the abandonment ceremony cannot be understood as the mere rejection of objects and destruction of a building that was no longer in use; this was a real death for the participants, which was followed by the burial of a series of entities that were active at a supernatural and sacred level. The irreversible nature of this operation and the specific context in which it took place – the chaotic hours of conquest – poignantly underscore how a new order was imposed, which left no room for ancient cults and traditions.

of a building that was no longer in use; this was a real death for the participants,

Cult of empire Thanks to the excavations we are now able to address a series of questions relating to the practice of pilgrimage in pre-Hispanic times. Pilgrims of the Inca era came from the four corners of the Empire to consult the oracle, heal their sick, and bury their dead. In so doing, they perpetuated an ancient tradition, which was developed by the Inca state for religious and political reasons to foster the emergence political reasons to foster the emergence of an imperial identity among the multitude of conquered peoples living across the Andes. Indeed, by placing the healing oracle at Pachacamac in the highest rank of their pantheon and encouraging its cult throughout their empire, the Incas became zealous promoters of this coastal god while simultaneously federating their subjects around common beliefs and ceremonial practices on a large scale. Our discoveries at Pachacamac highlight how the close interweaving of religion and politics reinforced the ability of the largest pre-Columbian empire to exercise its power.

BELoW The floor of the corridors and rooms of B15 were covered with hundreds of offerings left on the spot during an abandonment ceremony conducted shortly after the Spanish conquest. The artefacts deposited here included a miniature headdress and a painted textile. The headdress (BELoW LEfT) is part of a crown and is decorated with a turquoise feather mosaic of the Cotinga cayana bird (a sparrow species), and the green colour of the Ara severa bird (an Ara species). Both species come from Amazonia. The textile (BoTTom LEfT) represents a mythical being – half-animal, half-man – with a large crescent headdress. It is typical of the Sicán culture, which existed more than 800km away from Pachacamac.



Issue 92

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