Perfectly preserved sculpture found at Chan Chan excavation site

Perfectly preserved sculpture found at Chan Chan excavation site
Courtesy of the Directorate of Culture of La Libertad.
Leading lights  -   Experts

The more that we learn about the creations of our ancestors, the more we connect ourselves to the past. From the excavation of a striped tunic in Egypt that mirrors children’s shirts of today to the discovery of hand prints left upon ancient walls that show a universal desire to leave a mark upon the world, we gain insight from what is left behind. One of the most recent finds of note is an immaculately preserved wooden sculpture in Chan Chan, Peru.


Chan Chan, while not necessarily still considered a city, was the largest pre-Colombian city in South America. The second-largest city constructed from adobe in the world, Chan Chan (literally meaning “Sun-Sun” but perhaps translating to “Great-Sun”) was constructed in 850 CE along the Moche Valley, serving as the capital of the Chimor empire. It was known for its elaborate citadels (Ciudadelas) which were large, intricately designed structures to house mercantile areas and burial sites for the royals. These lavish pieces of architecture are prime evidence of why the former city has become a devoted excavation site since 1986.


In the continued excavation of Chan Chan, the Culture Ministry of Peru announced at the end of June the discovery of a perfectly preserved wooden sculpture, which they state is one of the oldest discoveries found at the site. Apparently depicting a ruler’s litter bearer, there is still a great deal of vibrancy to the depiction. From the terra cotta skin to the bold red nose and the black almond eyes—where mother-of-pearls would have been affixed—there is life and energy still felt in this centuries-old carving. 


The director of the Chan Chan Archaeological Complex Special Project César Gálvez Mora stated that “the finding adds to significant evidence that ratifies the ceremonial function of a building peripheral to Chan Chan,” and goes on to express how this discovery enriches Chan Chan as a World Heritage Site.