|Forum Home > General Discussion > Echo Ancients ~ Chavin de Huantar|
Echo Ancients ~ Part One
I know it's out of fashion
And a trifle uncool
But I can't help it
I'm a romantic fool
It's a habit of mine
To watch the sun go down
With Echo Ancients, I watch the sun go down
From nine till five I have to spend my time at work
The job is very boring, I'm an office clerk
The only thing that helps pass the time away
Is knowing I'll be back to Echo our Ancients some day..
Although life in this remote valley has been documented to at least 3000 BCE, over 3500 years ago crowds of people gathered here for important ceremonies, healing rituals, or just to visit, trade, dance and play, all aided by some very clever underground architectural tunnel designs featuring wind, water, and conch shells. Chavin de Huantar was a place where they could pose important questions to the shamans, whom had devised a very unique way to give them answers from their deity, the Lanzon.
The significance of Chavín de Huantar fully depends on the geography of where it was located. This amazing ancient site is situated in a valley 10,330 feet (3180 meters) high in the Peruvian Andes and was intentionally built near two of the few mountain passes that allow passage between the desert coast to the west and the Amazon jungle to the east. Located at the confluence of the Huanchesca and Mosna Rivers, it creates the natural phenomenon of 'two joining into one', which is the spiritually powerful harmonious meeting of opposing forces, or duality.
The area around the site is also known to have numerous natural hot springs as well as an awe-inspiring view of the Wantsan peak. Both added to the significance of the site. There are four temples, labyrinths, ornate megaliths, terraces, two plazas, water channels, and abundant evidence that it was used for religious ceremonies. (GE: 9.35' 35.94” S ~ 77.10' 40.90” W)
The main temple has a beautiful entry gate, constructed in part of megalithic stones, two round columns with beautiful designs inscribed on them, and it seemingly appears to lead to nowhere. The temple is 140 meters by 70 meters. (459.31 feet x 229.65 feet) The newer addition to make the the left side of the temple larger started around 900 BCE and was finished by 750 BCE. The renovations also included a larger sunken rectangular plaza to accommodate the increasingly large crowds of people gathering for religious ceremonies. There are 3 other temples here.
Once thought to be the birthplace of an ancient 'mother culture', the modern nuances of this ancient site are only recently beginning to be understood. Here they embraced 'duality'~ dark and light, male and female. One was not more powerful than the other. Steps and entrances to the temple were painted black to the north and white to the south. Only the privileged were allowed to ascend these stairways and the ceremonial area in front of this temple from the plaza.
To the southeast of Chavin's main temple is a mountain with a flattened out area with an altar built on it. A line of sight from the old temple steps through the circular plaza shows the spot where the Summer Solstice sun rises every year on Dec. 21st. With the addition of the new part of the temple another line of sight was also created to the same spot. The beginning of summer would bring a multitude of people for ceremonies that would last all summer.
The Labyrinth and Acoustics
From its very first early construction, the interior of the large temple was built as a labyrinth of tunnels and the new addition was built the same way. There are over 2 kilometers of tunnels on five levels here. While most of the maze-like tunnels are connected with each other, a few are separate, some have dead ends, and in a few places one tunnel will open to three tunnels, branching off in different directions. These all exist in darkness but certain places allowed a thin beam of light to shine on select spots that were coated with a reflective substance. There are many places that allow for air to pass throughout the structure. This silent dark space was the abode of their deity, the Lanzon,.and he stands right in the center of the early tunnels at the convergence of four tunnels, as if directing the wind passing through.
This interior architectural design is what affects acoustics today, and these are well enough preserved to detect what the original residents must have heard. What's more, ancient conch shell trumpets have been excavated in the village that when blown into, the shells make a haunting, warbling sound. It is stated that fossilized conch shells are embedded in stones on the floor of the temple.
Long narrow central passageways grew narrower, a design that ensured that the sounds of conch shell trumpets (called pututu's) would be heard from the interior passages of the temple to the outside. There are spaces in the walls of the temple to allow this. A shaman would call to the oracle in full view of the assembled crowd, and the haunting sound of a pututu would emerge, thanks to someone playing the conch shell instrument inside the structure. In acoustical terms, the corridors serve as so-called wave guides, which guided sound waves much farther than they'd otherwise travel.
That this is an intentional acoustic design is a perception that is reinforced by seven vertical ducts of different diameters and which arise at different levels and are located in a corner in a Chacana design. Managing the flow of wind and how sound could be amplified by design through the resonant chambers took an extremely brilliant mind. There are at least four outside water channels and holes throughout the site for the water to rush throughand certain spaces for sound to come through. Not only for times of emergencies, this was important for creating certain sounds during the ceremonies. The channels to guide water thru the lower tunnels also served the surrounding areas well when there were torrential rains and the rivers flooded. Then the sound created would resound throughout the valleys about the flood waters coming.
There is little doubt that the shaman at the temple used these deliberate techniques, material goods, and the intricate architectural features to manipulate and gain followers. This theory could be evidence that the temple and the elite here carried much power over local communities during its heyday. When not being used for ceremonies the labyrinth could also be used so privileged people could experience the effects of a hallucinogenic in the subterranean depths. It was a silent, maybe even scary, place to spend a few hours in contemplation, purposefully designed to intensify their stay in an altered state of consciousness.
This architectural masterpiece was the place where people came to hear the 'voice' of their Lanzon, and this giant wind instrument is still working today. Tests have been conducted by Dr. Luis Lumbreras, the current Director of the INC (Instituto Nacional de Cultura) in Peru. 'The flowing water pushed the wind through the tunnels and the result was varying pitches of sounds of thunder roaring, and they were heard throughout the surrounding valleys'.
Healing With Acoustical Sound
Chavin de Huantar was not just a large ceremonial center, it was a pan-regional place of healing importance. People came here as a place to attend and participate in various healing rituals. Roads leading from the west would have been routes for the sick to travel there, the Eastern routes would also bring native traditional medicine and herbs of the rain forest from the Amazon regions, and of course there were the local herbs too. The healers had accumulated knowledge of traditional plant medicines and shamanic techniques There have been many mortar and pestles found here for grinding herbs.
Chavin was well known for it's natural hot springs, and they also used sacred geometry for the 'tubs' they built for the patient to soak in. The patient would then be placed in a special spot in the labyrinth and the shaman could then use the pututu, or the correct amount of water poured into the ditch to produce the exact sound or sounds needed for the healing.
Lyrics to Echo Ancients rewritten by JD Jeffrey
Article written by Joani Jiannine
Echo Ancients ~ Part Two
The Lanzon of Chavin
The famous Lanzon of Chavin was seen as an oracle speaking to the people, and a 'wind director' in an orchestral 'pipeline' that could be heard for many miles around. It may sound like fiction, but it is based on this temple that is at least 3500 years old, which somehow seems to convey a sense of eternity. The Lanzon is a notched partly triangular, partly diamond-shaped stone with a square base over 4.5 m (15 ft) tall, carved with images of supernatural beings.
As stated previously It is situated at an intersection of 4 tunnels and the narrow blade at it's top fits through a special space in the ceiling. At certain times this space could be made to glow by a reflection of light so it seems that the Lanzon comes alive as one approaches it.
The key elements that characterize this deity are large round eyes looking upward with a large mouth with bared teeth and protruding fangs. It is a mixture of human and animal features, and the representation creates a complex and visually confusing style. The fangs and talons indicate associations with the jaguar and the caiman. The eyebrows and hair of the figure have been rendered as serpents, making them read as both bodily features and animals. The serpent motif seen here are two serpent heads flanking right and left, with the same upward-looking eyes. The swirling forms beneath them also evoke the sculpture’s eye shape.
The Lanzon also holds a strombus shell in the right hand, lifted upwards towards the heavens, while the left hand, pointing downward towards the earth, it holds a spondylus shell. This duality seems to say 'as above, so below'. Further visual complexities emerge in the animal heads that decorate the bottom of the figure’s tunic, where two heads share a single fanged mouth. This technique, where two images share parts or outlines, is called 'contour rivalry', and in Chavín art it creates a visually complex style that is deliberately confusing, thereby creating a barrier between believers who can see its true form while nonbelievers cannot.
The Shaman of Chavin and the 'Chinchay Clash' stone
The elite of Chavín had knowledge that allowed them to have divining power, and they could interpret the movement of the stars to know when they could start planting, harvesting or when the rainy season would begin. They also knew to interpret different signs of nature and thus warn the community about possible phenomena to come. This was seen by the people as the ability of the shamans to speak with the forces of nature, and as these were also in charge of the oracles, gave them the ability to intercede between nature, and the oracle for the people. They had special instruments to analyze the course of celestial bodies, one of which was the huge altar stone known now as the 'Chinchay Clash'. This is a rock of ten tons with seven circular holes that could be filled with water to form mirrors to observe a set of known stars such as the Pleiades, Orion and Sirius. Of course the popularity that the shamans obtained for this knowledge placed them as the center of attention. If their predictions were right, the ceremonial center and oracle gained a good reputation. That they developed these capabilities to hold political and economic sway over the communities of the time is plausible.
The Wall of Heads (Sculpted)
Hanging on the outer walls of the old temple were sculpted heads. Chavin is famous for the stone heads that were incorporated onto these walls. Sadly, today only one head still proudly hangs on the high temple walls. The three-dimensional heads represent mythical creatures, some resemble a more human face, some of them look more like animal heads. These have been called "nail heads" and have long been a reason for speculation and legends; Their images surrounding Chavín's original main temple complemented the strength and sacredness of it.
When Julio C. Tello finally investigated the site he photographed them, reproduced them, published and exposed them to the world; and thus gave people a material view of the force and the character of the Andean people. With the alluvion (huge landslide) of January 17, 1945 that razed the archaeological area, Chavín de Huantar lost many of these valuable testimonies. Photography reproduces the only picture that was kept in situ, marking the damage caused by the landslide over the building . Many of the sculpted heads that were since found are now in a local museum.
Chavin de Huantars Sacred Geometry
While the previously mentioned alluvion has left most of this site still covered, there are traces of Sacred Geometry having been incorporated here. The Lanzon has traditional triangular, diamond, square and circular shapes while some of the water well shapes are the square, pentagon, hexagon and septagon. In the artwork we see spirals, circles, and triangular shapes. As the site slowly re-emerges we are certain there will be much more of importance found.
The Tellos Obelisk
The original Circular Plaza was a sacred and ritually important open-air space within a ceremonial center. Prior to 800–700 BCE, this location had a number of functions, including serving as an atrium for entering Temple A through the temple's north staircase. The plaza in the center of the original U-shaped temple is perfectly circular and is about 22 meters (66 feet) in diameter. The blocks of the walls were 'engraved' with their unique artwork. The Tellos Obelisk was believed to have been set in the center of this circle at one time. It is made of white granite, a slightly tapered quadrangular shape 2.52 m (8.26 ft) tall. The nearest source of granite is located 18 km (11.2 miles) from the ruins.
The obelisk shows the myth of Huari Wilca; a male and female primordial power that takes the form of the jaguar and cosmic dragon with double attributes, while containing within itself the expression of creation. It seems the Tellos Obelisk narrates a cosmological myth. and is seen as a very complete and detailed model of the cosmos. The correlation of the Tellos Obelisk to the Old Temple is supported by stylistic comparison with the Lanzón, the previously mentioned monolith at Chavín but the Lanzón remains embedded within the Old Temple, securing its permanent placement.
The Estella Raimondi Stela
The Estella Raimondi Stele is another sacred object and a significant piece of art of the Chavín culture The stele is seven feet high, made of highly polished granite, with a lightly incised design featuring a meaning similar to that of the Staff of God. After not being found in it's original spot, the stele is now also at the Lima museum.
Chavín’s iconography and architecture is currently seen as an unprecedented unification of previously heterogeneous elements. Findings indicate that social instability and upheaval began to occur between 500 and 300 BCE, at the same time that the Inca began it's quest to dominate. The larger Chavín civilization on the whole began to decline. Large ceremonial sites were abandoned, some unfinished, and were replaced by villages and agricultural land. As many people did not wish to be subjugated to Incan rule they simply moved to areas not under Incan influence. No later than 500 BCE, a small village replaced the Circular Plaza. The plaza was occupied by a succession of cultural groups, and residents salvaged building stones and stone carvings to use in house walls. There are indications that the village had been continuously occupied through the 1940's.
by Joani Jiannine