Municipality not doing enough to protect the treasures of Huanchaco

I t is a well-known fact that wherever you dig a hole in Peru chances are you will find something ancient, and of value. Unfortunately there is not enough money to finance all the excavations that archaeologists would want to do. One of the biggest excavations in Trujillo is Chan Chan, an ancient Moche community 20 minutes outsides Trujillo, and ten minutes away from Huanchaco. Moche archaeologist Alicia Boswall believes that there are many treasures still to be discovered – specifically in Huanchao. Taking a closer look at the area on Google Maps you can clearly see an old trail that goes all the way from Chan Chan, through Huanchaco, and on to the village near of El Brujo. Just last year colleagues of Alicia discovered an ancient Moche village at the rescue site Cerro De La Virgen – a settlement from the Moche and Chimu cultures. Excavations began. We visited the area with the archaeologists who worked on the dig just a couple of months before. We were met by devastating scenes; big mining trucks have been carelessly driven through the area leaving big holes in the gravel and sand. One had to wonder if the municipality in on this. A lot of money is put into this industry, and corruption may be causing people to sell their history in order to get money for bread.

Big signs indicating that the property is owned by the government, and designating the site as a protected archaeological zone are just ignored, some are spray-painted indicating new private owners of the area. The archaeologists are faced with what could have given them more answers, but now it is nothing more than a dirt road, the devastation on their faces is clear. Alicia Boswall states: “It’s sad! But what can we do! We have had reporters and media up here once. We managed to get the area declared zona intangible, protected, despite the resistance of the locals

It was obvious to the untrained eye; the protruding textiles, ceramics, and bones, once an ancient settlement, now just a garbage dump. Will we ever know more about the history of the Moche? Or has ignorance and corruption taken the history of its country to its grave?

Text: Reem Amad Al Sadi

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