Throwback Thursday: Metropolitan Pyramids & The Lima Culture

For those who know me, its no secret that I love history. As a PCV, I’ve hit the jackpot with a placement in Peru. There’s so many different cultural heritages to learn about and so many great archaeological sites to visit that would make any history buff want to cry. Not to mention, there is so much more to Peruvian history than just than the Incas and Machu Picchu. So in the spirit of sharing my love for history, I decided to do a series called Throwback Thursday where I highlight a specific part of Peruvian history on a Thursday of course. Enjoy – I hope ya’ll learn something!

Remember that super swanky part of Lima called Miraflores I told you guys about? Well guess what – There’s a big huge pyramid right smack dab in the middle of it. Yep.

The first time I ever saw it, I was riding public transport through Miraflores and out of

Picture I took of Huaca Pucllana at night

nowhere a huge adobe step pyramid just materialized in the midst the traffic riddled urban jungle that is Lima. Months later, when I returned to Lima for a diversity training, I had
the chance to check out this city dwelling pyramid and found out it was called Huaca Pucllana (pronounced: Waka Pook-yana). Turns out, this massive seven platform structure was built around 500 AD by the Lima culture (Yes, my dear readers, another ancient  culture that isn’t the Incas) and it served as a ceremonial and administrative center.

And who are the folks of the Lima culture and what are they all about?  Here are some fun facts about ’em:

  • Textiles were considered a symbol of high social status and wealth and mummies from their culture have been found with brilliantly colored fabrics.
  • For written communication, the Lima culture used the images and pictures on their textiles to convey their worldview.
  • They were known for their distinct ceramic designs that depicted their important social activities.
  • These guys? … Totally into using drugs in a religious, let’s feel more connected to our cosmological worldview kind of way. Snuff spoons and trays known to be used for drug use have been found at various archaeological sites. It is also believed that hallucinogens from cacti were used during religious ceremonies.
  • Human sacrifice is what the fantastical world of Indian Jones is made out of and in the case of the Lima culture, its not just fantasy, its fact. Like many Andean
    Huaca Pucllana during the day

    cultures, religious human sacrifice was necessary in order to keep the complex wills of their gods satisfied. Many of those who were sacrificed so that the wrath of the gods would be assuaged (trying out my new, fancy GRE words on ya’ll, thanks!)

Due to El Niño, the weather phenomenon that always wreaks havoc around these parts, the Lima culture eventually began to decline. Over time, because of droughts and lack of available water, the Lima people  eventually migrated to other parts of coastal Peru joining other cultural groups and creating new ones and abandoning their buildings like Huaca Pucllana for us to find years later.

And finally, because this long abandoned ancient pyramid is now in a very hip part of town, of course there is a very fancy criollo restaurant overlooking the archaeological site. You’ll be dropping some serious Soles  if you give this fine dining joint a try but at least you’ll have a look into Lima’s ancient past as your appetizer.

Until next time!

If you’re a history buff like me and want to read more Throwback Thursday posts, click here.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Katey-Red says:


    Again, you have shown me another side of Peru that I was previously unaware of! Just wanted to say that I hope you are entering the Blog it Home Contest. I think your effort and voice gives you a good shot.

    All the best,


    1. bdwhite says:

      Hey Katey! Thanks, girl! I did enter and Im currently crossing my fingers until July when they announce finalists. Also would you mind if I shared your blog with a FB group we have in PC Peru? Its called PC Peru Interactive Diversity Forum and I don’t think any volunteers talk about what it is like to be autistic and serve. Anyway let me know if its okay with you!


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