Common Core: RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.4, RH.6-8.7, WHST.6-8.4, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, RI.6-8.4, RI.6-8.7, W.6-8.4

NCSS: Culture • Time, Continuity, and Change • People, Places, and Environments • Power, Authority, and Governance • Science, Technology, and Society

Courtesy David Reid

Researchers are exploring this 1,200-year-old temple site recently found in southern Peru.


Uncovering a Buried Temple

Jim McMahon/Mapman®

The Wari Empire ruled South America’s Andes Mountains centuries before the Inca but then utterly disappeared. Its people left no written records. Now researchers are studying the recently located site of a 1,200-year-old Wari temple in southern Peru. They are searching for clues as to how the empire dominated that region from about 450 A.D. to 1000 A.D.

The temple was erected around 800 A.D. at a site called Pakaytambo. But the place has been abandoned since the 10th century—and since about 1600, covered by ash from a volcanic eruption. So researchers were excited when satellite images indicated the outline of a large D shape in the earth. It resembled that of the 30-some other Wari temples found throughout the country. 

Sabena Jane Blackbird/Alamy Stock Photo (left vessel); Stefano Ravera/Superstock (right vessel)

These pieces of pottery were found at Wari temple sites around Peru.

A team of archaeologists from the University of Illinois at Chicago is excavating the stone platform where the temple sat and the big open spaces below, where hundreds of local people may have gathered.

The temple at Pakaytambo and others that have been found in Peru were key to the Wari establishing control over a large region. They expanded their empire through “shared religious beliefs and large-scale ceremonial events,” team leader David Reid says. 

Experts hope that further study may uncover what those ceremonies were. They are also searching for clues as to why the Wari Empire abruptly vanished. 

Jim McMahon/Mapman®

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