Chavín de Huántar

Chavín de Huántar chävēnˈ dā wänˈtär [key], archaeological site in the northeastern highlands of Peru, near the headwaters of the Marañon River. It flourished between c.900 b.c. and 200 b.c. The site features two monumental temples and intricate stone carvings depicting snarling human deities and a variety of animals, including caimans, jaguars, snakes, birds of prey, and mythical beasts. The site also features residential architecture covering c.18.5 acres (7.5 hectares). The term “Chavín” (or “Chavinoid”), used as an adjective, refers to the intricate art style present at this site, which eventually spread throughout much of central and N Peru. Once considered one of the earliest large-scale ceremonial centers of the central Andes, archaeologists now realize that monumental architecture actually emerged considerably earlier in other parts of Peru. The spread of the Chavín style in media such as metallurgy, textiles, and ceramics dates to the last phase at the site (c.400–200 b.c.), when Chavín de Huántar was undoubtedly the most prestigious religious and urban center in Peru.

See J. A. Mason, Ancient Civilizations of Peru (1961); J. H. Rowe, Chavín Art: An Inquiry into Its Form and Meaning (1962); E. P. Benson, ed., Dumbarton Oaks Conference on Chavín, 1968 (1971); C. Kano, Origins of the Chavín Culture (1979); R. L. Burger, Chavín and the Origins of Andean Civilization (1992).

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