Ancient Chan Chan City, Peru

Chan Chan city in Peru was an adobe settlement that was one of the largest cities in the ancient world. It was the largest pre-Columbian city in South America.

Chan Chan, Peru came about in the ninth century. It became the seat of the Chimu Empire, in the ancient Chimor region in Northern Peru. The site of the city, which, in the height of its prosperity, was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, and was the largest pre-Columbian city in South America, is in a coastal desert between the coast and the Andes Mountains. Today, the remains of the ancient city form a major Peruvian tourist attraction.

History of Chan Chan, Peru

The site of the city (in a very dry desert region in the Moche Valley) received less than one tenth of an inch of rainfall each year, on average, but the Chimu people undertook a project to divert the nearby Chicama River, and constructed irrigation channels which supplied water, Smithsonian Magazine reports of the ancient settlement. The city, aside from its water problems, which, when solved, allowed enough water into the area to grow crops in neighboring fields, was very prosperous. Construction on Chan Chan city in Peru is thought to have begun around AD 850, and it continued to grow until its demise around AD 1470.

Description of One of the Largest Ancient Cities, and the Largest Pre-Columbian City in South America

The Chimu Empire in Peru established its capital in Chan Chan, near modern day Trujillo, and the city continued to prosper for over six centuries following its founding. There was usually a single monarch, and villagers and workers that inhabited the city. At its most prosperous moment, the city of Chan Chan may have accomodated as many as 60,000 residents. The buildings and homes in the settlement, which are still upright today in the archeological site, were constructed from mud, making the village one of the largest adobe cities ever. The city had beautiful pallaces, monuments, and intricately constructed walls, that surrounded countless adobe homes.

The Fall of Chan Chan

It was around AD 1470 that the city of Chan Chan in Peru was captured by the Incas, who were under the rule of Tupac Inca Yupanqui. The officials and rulers of the Chimu people in Chan Chan were brought to the Incan capital of Cuzco, where they assisted in Incan affairs. The adobe city fell to the Incan Empire at that time, and fifty years later, the Spanish arrived in the area and disrupted most native civilizations.

Chan Chan as an Historical and Archeological Sight Today

The remains of the adobe city still stand today, but the increasing levels of rainfall are threatening the ancient settlement, which is very susceptible to erosion. As many experts anticipate increasing levels of rainfall due to climate change, the city, now an archeological site, may have limited days. Remnants from the city, and numerous artifacts, such as pottery and sculptures have given archeologists information about life in a pre-Columbian New World city.

Chan Chan is still a remarkable tourist attraction in Peru, and hopefully, preservation attempts will be successful, although wetter weather could destroy what is left of the ancient city in years to come. Ancient walls, homes, and pallaces made of mud are still intact in Chan Chan, Peru.

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