The area of the great ruin of the earliest highly developed culture in pre-Columbian Peru, which flourished between about 900 and 200 BC and may have originated c 1200 BC. During this time Chavín art spread over the north and central parts of what is now Peru. It is not known whether this was the actual center of origin of the culture and art style. The central building at Chavín de Huántar is a massive temple complex constructed of dressed rectangular stone blocks, with interior galleries and bas-relief carvings on pillars and lintels. The principal motifs of the Chavín style are human, feline, and crocodilian or serpentine figures. Carved stone objects, fantastic pottery that demonstrates the most advanced skill, stone construction, and remarkably sophisticated goldwork have been found. Chavín pottery is known from the decorated types found in the temple and in graves on the northern coast, where it is called Cupisnique. Until the end of the period, the ware was monochrome - dull red, brown, or gray - and stonelike. Vessels were massive and heavy and the main forms are open bowls with vertical or slightly expanding sides and flat or gently rounded bases, flasks, and stirrup-spouted bottles. The surface may be modeled in relief or decorated by incision, stamping, brushing, rouletting, or dentate rocker-stamping. Some bowls have deeply incised designs on both the inside and outside faces. Its art style was never surpassed in the complexity of its iconography. The buildings, which show several periods of reconstruction, consist of various temple platforms containing a series of interlinked galleries and chambers on different levels. In the oldest part of the complex is a granite block, the Lanzón, on which is carved a human figure with feline fangs and with snakes in place of hair. Relief carvings in a similar style decorate the lintels, gateways, and cornices at the site, and human and jaguar heads of stone were on the outside wall of one of the platforms. On the coast, where stone is scarce, the highland architecture is replaced by work in adobe. Further south, the Paracas culture shows strong continuing Chavín influence.