ology logo
card
216

Huánuco Pampa

OLogy Series
place
card
216

Huánuco Pampa

OLogy Series
place

Over 500 years ago, the Inca built a city high in the Andes mountains called Huanuco Pampa (wa-nu-koh pam-pa). The city has well-preserved remains of palaces, houses for commoners, temples, and storehouses. After Spanish invaders took over the empire in the 1530s, the city was abandoned. Archaeological research at this site has given us a rare look at life in the Inca empire.

Life in an Inca City
The Inca empire was divided into many provinces, each with its own capital and governor. Huanuco Pampa was one of these capitals. It was located in an area known today as northern Peru. Huanuco Pampa was an important provincial city, but most local people only lived there part-time. Commoners came to Huanuco Pampa to perform jobs for the state, like construction projects. In return, the state held huge festivals and gave gifts of beer, meat, and corn. Archaeologists have found many well-preserved storehouses, some still stocked with the broken pottery vessels used to hold food.

Archaeologists excavated a group of buildings at Huanuco Pampa where they think a select group of women:

brewed beer and wove cloth

wrote important Inca documents

crafted gold statues

Are you right?

Correct!

These duties were essential to the Inca Empire. The beer, called chicha, was made for Inca festivals, and is still made today. The special cloth was given to people to inspire loyalty.

Huanuco Pampa was abandoned a few years after the Spanish occupation because:

they thought it was too beautiful

it was too cold and inaccessible

there was nothing of value there

Are you right?

Correct!

Huanuco Pampa was built so high in the mountains, (13,000 feet above sea level), that the Spanish found it too cold and harsh. After a while, the city was abandoned and objects were left behind.

There were many houses in Huanuco Pampa, but nobody lived in them most of the time.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Thousands of farmers or herders came to Huanuco Pampa for elaborate festivals or to work on construction sites.

 

Where: Andes Mountains in Peru
Geography: cold, rugged highlands
Founded: about 1450
Importance: capital of one of the Inca provinces
Known for: massive storage buildings, and well-preserved architecture

Image credits: courtesy of Craig Morris.