Chavín de Huántar, Peru

A Pre-Inca religious center



CyArk using a drone to aerially document Chavin de Huantar by Kieran Kesner for CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

CyArk’s involvement with Chavín de Huántar began in 2005 when a research group from University of California, Berkeley traveled to Chavín to document the archaeological site with LiDAR. This expedition was meant to supplement research conducted under John Rick at Stanford University. The data produced in this expedition, currently hosted by CyArk, became a foundation for executing a conservation plan for the site. The venture was funded jointly by Stanford University and the Kacyra Family Foundation. With changing and more intensive El Niño weather patterns, Chavín has been under risk of flood erosion.  In 2017 CyArk returned to Chavín to document the site’s canals and the adjoining river bed to assist ongoing conservation efforts. LIDAR and photogrammetic documentation was completed over the principal structures.

Panoramic image from within Circular Plaza at Chavín de Huántar.

Aerial view of Chavin de Huantar by Kieran Kesner for CyArkCyArk

Introducing Chavín de Huántar 

Chavín de Huántar is a major pre-Inca ceremonial site in the Peruvian Andes. Its strategic position between the eastern and western Andean highlands on an access route to the amazonian jungle allowed the site to amass influence and it is believed to be the center of what archaeologists call the Chavin civilization. The site was first inhabited around 1500 BCE. It has massive temple structures with significant subterranean cave-like galleries, pyramidal platforms, courts, and sunken plazas. Recent research has shown that the subterranean galleries may have been used to project large sounds, like those that could be obtained from the numerous elaborately carved conch shells found onsite. The effect undoubtedly would have created a mystical experience for the pilgrims and travelers visiting the site. 

Lanzon deity at Chavin by CyArkCyArk

The Lanzón Gallery

The Lanzón Gallery, located in the center of Building B of the Old Temple, is a subterranean intersection of several galleries, which features a 15 foot notched wedge-shaped stele of white granite depicting the supernatural being of Lanzón. The Lanzón was the central cult object of the Old Temple at Chavin. Lanzón is also called the “smiling god” and has been associated with trade, fertility, dualism and humankind's interaction with nature. The carved stele depicts Lanzón as a standing human-feline hybrid figure with large eyes, a large mouth baring its teeth, and hands and feet with long claws. Snakes adorn its hair and eyebrows. Gazing upward, the figure has one raised hand and one extended down, as if connecting the heavens and earth.

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible by the following partners:

Stanford University

Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Peru

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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