Sechín Alto

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Sechín Alto

Sechín Alto, a large complex of sites located in the Casma Valley on the north-central coast of Peru. The complex, probably once the center of a larger polity in the valley, covers 4.2 square miles and consists of four sites: Sechín Alto proper, Sechín Bajo, Taukachi-Kon-kán, and Cerro Sechín. The group of sites dates between 1900 and 1200 bce All construction at the sites is stone set in mud mortar.

The main mound at Sechín Alto is the largest monumental construction for its time period in the New World, measuring 990 feet by 825 feet by 145 feet tall. Off its front face is a series of four rectangular plazas that extend 4,620 feet to the northeast. Within these rectangular plazas are three sunken circular courts. The mound and its associated plazas and courts were probably used for a variety of public ceremonial activities.

Sechín Bajo and Taukachi-Konkán contain numerous mounds, plazas, and circular courts. Some of these structures may have been used as warehouses to store commodities or as administrative buildings to monitor the movement of goods in and out of the complex. This would be a situation similar to that documented for the site of Pampa De Las Llamas-moxeke, located only a few miles to the south. Despite the similarities, the differences between the sites attest to the sophistication of early Casma Valley society. The Mound of Columns at Taukachi-Konkán features a roof, a unique feature most likely utilized for elite privacy.

Cerro Sechín is the best known of the four sites that comprise the Sechín Alto complex. Extensive excavation there has revealed a moderate-sized square building, some 175 feet on a side that is decorated on all four exterior faces with carved stones set in mud mortar. The stones, carved in a simple, realistic style, depict the results of a military engagement in which warrior figures, holding large clubs or axes, stand triumphantly over victims who have been decapitated or whose bodies have been cut into various pieces.

See alsoArchaeology .


Burger, Richard L. Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization. London and New York: Thames & Hudson, 1992.

Maldonado, Elena. Arqueología de Cerro Sechín. Lima: Pon-tificia Universidad Católica del Perú; Fundación Volks-wagenwerk, 1992.

Pozorski, Shelia, and Thomas Pozorski. Early Settlement and Subsistence in the Casma Valley, Peru (1987).

Pozorski, Shelia. "Theocracy vs. Militarism: The Significance of the Casma Valley in Understanding Early State Formation," in The Origins and Development of the Andean State, edited by Jonathan Haas et al. (1987), pp. 15-30.

Samaniego Román, Lorenzo. "El arte escultórico de Sechín, monumento arqueológico de Casma, Ancash, Perú." Ph.D. diss. Lima: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 1996.

                                         Shelia Pozorski

                                        Thomas Pozorski