Temple of Chavin

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On May 11, 2000, our tour group traveled to see the Temple of Chavin, a ceremonial center of the Chavin culture, built around 600 BC. The ruins of the temple are located in the northeastern highlands of Peru.


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The temple complex is composed of three levels of architecture, representing the three worlds of the Chavin cosmology: the heavens, the earth and the inner earth. It is situated on a flat terrace between the Wacheqsa and Mosna rivers. A canal once carried water from the Wacheqsa river through a system of aqueducts under the temple and courtyard and into the Mosna river. The site was originally designed so that the water would have a musical effect as it poured through the underground passages.


 

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Inside the structure is a series of tunnels and galleries with stone carvings of bizarre feline creatures. These possibly represented the experience of shapeshifting after ingesting various religious sacraments.


 

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One of the popular attractions of the Temple of Chavin is the Lanzon stone, a monolith intricately engraved with the features of the "Smiling God". It stands at the crossing of two passageways, representing the axis mundi, a pillar between heaven and inner earth.   


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Our guide, David Gonzales said that the axis of the courtyard in the southeastern section of the temple complex was aligned with the position of the sun on the day of the equinox. As I dowsed the area within the courtyard, I found a pattern of 8 lines radiating out to the corners and the center of the stairways on each side of the courtyard and also a circular pattern focused at the center.


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