Chavin

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[Chavin de Huantar]. In the period 900-200 bc (see Early Horizon), the Chavin Horizon art style became the dominant cultural influence in Peru. Probably developed in the medium of low-relief stone carving, it was ultimately expressed in other media as well, for instance, pottery, metals and bone. A highly distinctive style, its themes are bio-morphic (especially feline) and are executed in flowing curvilinear lines. The eye with an eccentric pupil is a highly characteristic motif. Origins are obscure, but the frequent depictions of the jaguar, a tropical lowland animal, imply a non-Andean beginning. Some archaeologists propose Cerro Sechin as a possible precursor. The art style takes its name from the type site at Chavin de Huantar, which is located at a 3200-metre elevation on a tributary of the Rio Maranon in the Cordillera Blanca of northcentral Peru. The main structures of the site, originally decorated with carved relief sculpture, are a complex of platforms faced with cut stone blocks. Two major building phases are evident. The earlier Old Temple, built on a U-shaped plan similar to El Paraiso, was enlarged and altered to form the New Temple or Castillo. Despite the solid external appearance of the structures, one third of their total volume is a honeycomb of stone-lined galleries and rectangular rooms. The most famous examples of elaborate Chavin carving are the great image or Lanzon, a 4.5-metre high sculpted megalith located in the central gallery of the Old Temple, and the Raimondi Stone, which is associated with the New Temple. Pottery is typically black or brown, dark fired and finished by polishing, incision or rocker stamping (see also Cupis- Although Chavin de Huantar was a ceremonial centre of some importance, a number of nearby sites appear to be associated, indicating that it was also a population centre of some size.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied

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