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Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley

Date of Submission: 05/08/2019
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture
State, Province or Region:
Luya and Chachapoyas Provinces, Region of Amazonas
Ref.: 6411

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party



Name of the component


(Central Point)

Area of the property component (Ha)

RDN* No.




840435 E, 9289833 N





La Jalca

187547 E, 9282272 N






180231 E, 9303207 N






177232 E, 9295451 N





Mariscal Castilla

191005 E, 9269670 N





Santo Tomas

848264 E, 9275980 N






829370 E, 9318026 N




Lagunas de Los Cóndores


202400 E, 9241756 N



* National Directorate Resolution of declaration as the National Cultural Heritage issued by the National Institute of Culture (Instituto Nacional de Cultural)

The society of Chachapoyas constituted an autonomous social development that occurred between the 6th century and the 16th century AD., in an extended geographical scenario on the northwest side of the Amazon Andes, in the Peruvian Tropical Andes, at the east of the Marañón river–tributary of the Amazonas- which have been the ancestral natural border between the Amazonian and Andean culture.

In this geographical  area, the Chachapoyas settlements  in the valley of Utcubamba are distributed along of 300km of length approximately, between with an altitude of  2000 to 3000 m.a.s.l., in a region which landscape is outlined due to a thick tropical forest and a particular ecosystem of forests full of haze in the top, which are formed by the elevated and persistent atmospherically humidity,   typical of the Humid Montane Tropical Forest Life Zone (bhmt) (Holdridge, 1971) , and also, due the rural geography of elevated outcrops and cliffs. The river Utcubamba across all this region longitudinally, forming a tropical dry forest valley, which is the opposite of the Jalca the subalpine tropical páramo that have scrublands, lagoons, very low temperature and high humidity.

The political organization of Chachapoyas was made up by a group of curacazgos (Andes kingdom) who shared a common cultural substratum under a centralized power in Kuelap. The ethno-historical studies show that this curacazgos were, among the most important, the pacllas, chillaos, jalcas, chillchos and motilones who shared the same traditions, even the same language -of which only a small glossary remains-. According to the colonial documents and ethnohistory research, the Incas of Cuzco joined politically those nations with administrative purposes, once incorporated to the Tahuantinsuyo by 1470 (Narváez 2013, 119). Nevertheless, the jurisdictional limits such as the curacazgos are not established yet.

On the basis of the pattern of settlement, complexity, quantity and location of the sites, as well as other material elements, the existence of a hierarchical social organization of the Chachapoyas society is demonstrated, identifying Kuelap as a unique site and the most important and representative in the Utcubamba valley. A valley that should be corresponded to the nuclear zone of the development of this society (Narváez 2013, 119). Its singular and main urban exponents are the sites of residential - - ceremonial - agricultural, residential and funerary character. Its location and the particularity of its urban, architectural and artistic design represent an exceptional case of large-scale land use and high social development achieved in the Amazon.

In particular, the Chachapoyas residential architectural pattern is the building with a circular floor plant, made of stone and set with a mud mortar and covered with a hay conical roof. Likewise, three features define the architectural design: the cornices, the platform bases and, above all, the geometric or figurative friezes as an exterior decoration of the walls. Despite being a common pattern for the Chachapoyas settlements in the Utcubamba Valley, only Kuelap represents, also, unique buildings, such as the outer wall, the Templo Mayor, the Torreón and others that distinguish it from other settlements.

For its part, the funerary pattern is characterized by several forms of burial: the mausoleum or collective tomb and the sarcophagus or unipersonal sepulcher of anthropomorphic exterior appearance, many of which have polychromy and geometric or figurative ornamentation. Both types, have in common to be located in isolated places like in the hollows and cliffs, caves or natural galleries or excavated adjacent to precipices; being most inaccessible, but very visible at a distance.

The architectural style of its settlements and funerary buildings differentiates Chachapoyas from other contemporary Andean and Amazonian societies, and is still a symbol of local, regional and national identity. Its architecture reveals an architectural pattern or autochthonous style shared between the curacazgos and the social differences within them.

Some very important sites of the Chachapoyas cultural area are, Vira Vira (La Libertad), with more than 220 buildings; Cerro Las Cruces (Gran Saposoa) (San Martin), with more than 400 buildings and Gran Pajaten (San Martin) with a remarkable decoration of its buildings. However, considering its characteristics, Kuelap is indicated as a very emblematic site of the Chachapoyas society. In Amazonas, the Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley are represented by the Kuelap Archeological Complex (Residential-ceremonial-agricultural), the sites of Ollape, Yalape, Macro and Olan (Residential), and Karajia, Revash and Cerro El Tigre (Funerary), as representative examples of residential-ceremonial, residential and funerary Chachapoyas settlements of the Utcubamba Valley.


Kuelap Archeological Complex 

It is politically located in an annex of the Tingo district, Luya province, region of Amazonas. Geographically, it is located at the top of a meseta that forms the Barreta (west) and Lahuancho (east) hills, at 3000 m.a.s.l., in the left margin of the river Utcubamba, sheltered in an ecosystem of forest of haze. It has an extension of 218.33 hectares (see annexed map).  

The occupation in Kuelap originated around 400 BC and continued until 1470 of our era. The majority of buildings that are observed on the surface correspond to the Late Intermediate Period (900-1470 AD). The last two and shortest occupations on the site are linked to the Inca conquest of the region (1470) and the subsequent Spanish occupation. Kuelap was definitively abandoned around the year 1570 when Viceroy Toledo implemented the policy of Reductions of Indians, which generated the massive displacement of indigenous communities from their ancestral territories to new settlements determined by the advance and consolidation of colonial power in the region (Op. Cit.).

The complexity of its architectural design, imposing and well preserved, as well as its antiquity, define Kuelap as an elite urban center of the greatest political relevance in the Utcubamba Valley and an exponential religious center where diverse communities converged, as shown by the human remains found in the Templo Mayor, and nearby burial structures such as Barro Negro, Barreta and Petaca (Narváez 2013: 113, 133-136).

The construction of Kuelap testifies unobjectionably that at that time there was a social organization with subdivision of functions (Kauffmann 2013, 50). This is sustained in the architectural remainders, identified in the buildings that make up the complex, especially in the imposing wall that surrounds it, the same one that should have been built during several generations, and that would only be possible by the mobilization of a large amount of hand work of the communities of the region, directed from the centralized political power in Kuelap, in exchange for obtaining favors from the deities, according to the Andean model of community work, the "minka", which was the basis of the emergence of state organizations (Narváez 2013, 119).

In this complex there is a monumental building known as "La Fortaleza", located on the top of Cerro Barreta. It consists of a large walled enclosure containing more than 420 circular buildings "organized in a complex manner, incorporating aspects of deep religious, funerary, and other residential, domestic and craft production" (Narváez 2013, 125), arranged in two sectors, Alto and Bajo, covering an area of ​​almost 7 ha, that is, 584 meters long and 110 meters wide maximum built entirely of stone.

The traditional and standard character of the civil and religious architecture of the settlements of Kuelap are the circular-structure buildings decorated with geometrical bands in the facades. These circular structures organize the internal space and it was used as houses, organized in three patterns: One of them are linear with common transit corridors, the other is surrounded by a central yard; and forming groups, On the inside it was located, many objects that evidence its residential use (kitchen appliance: stoves, mortars, utensils, utilitarian ceramic, among others), primary and secondary tombs under the floor.

The discovery of foreign cultural material shows interregional contacts with different societies of the Peruvian territory, such as northern highland Cajamarca, the Moche, Lambayeque and northern coast Chimú, the Recuay of the central northern highland and the Inca of Cuzco at the south. Also, with this type of structures, there are rectangular facilities overlapped to the circular in the tie of the Inca domination over the Chachapoyans, in this way, the Alto sector in the group of Kuelap is the most important.

The main components of this monumental group are:

  • The Wall
    It is the external face of a large monumental platform that contains a colossal and solid construction fill of blocks or stone columns joined with clay mortar, and a veneer of homogeneous blocks of limestone, placed in horizontal rows in a regular manner, in order to level the rugged terrain of the mountain, which served as a base for the construction of the Upper and Lower sectors. The wall in some places reaches up to 20 meters high, and forms two large terraces which divide the site. This wall was made by different social groups and for generations. In the bases of the wall, human burials and other offerings have been unveiled, which indicates once again, the sacredness that Kuelap had.
  • Alto Sector
    It is located to the northwest and segregated from the rest of the complex by an internal wall of 4 meters high, it contains 80 circular and 03 rectangular enclosures, as well as 01 access on the east side of the perimeter wall of the site. Unlike the Bajo sector that contains 335 circular enclosures, rectangular 02, two large accesses, and conserves the only six buildings decorated with friezes of geometric designs, it represents one of the most important sectors of La Fortaleza.

It is divided in three sub sectors, each one with architectonic and functional differences.

a. In the northern sector a Torreón “D”-shaped is outlined, which is place next to the external wall, by one side, and this is an abyss by the west side. The archeological excavations in this building found numerous secondary human burials, as well as large amount of pebbles, possibly used as projectiles to be hurled with ritual and symbolic sling to call the rain (ethnohistory indicates that the sling was considered an associated weapon to lightning, thunder and rain) (Narváez 2013, 138).
b. the central sector is characterized by three rectangular buildings. The presence in this sector of large open spaces and orthogonal buildings would indicate their public function. According to the research of Narváez (2013, 128), these rectangular structures, so dissimilar to the constructive Chachapoyas tradition, have their origin in the Inca domination period, reason why they are superimposed on the circular structures.
c. In the southern sector there are two platforms, completely covered by circular enclosures. In this sector, its perimeter walls reach 11 meters high due to the terrain relief. A platform located in the highest part of this sector, in whose center are the remains of a circular building, built with thin homogeneous rocks, is the feature that makes it a unique building of its type.

  • Low Sector
    a. Circular Platform.
    It is a unique building located on the head of the outer wall at the southern end of the Fort. It has a diameter of 23 meters and a maximum height of 1.80 meters. It houses a set of eight circular enclosures and an underground funerary construction in the shape of a bottle, located in the central part, in which abundant human bone remains were found. Circular buildings have a functional hierarchy according to their size and context. The three smallest ones have 4 meters in diameter and served as kitchen areas, associated with a large amount of material and household appliances. There are two other medium-sized buildings without domestic associations and a larger structure of 8 meters in diameter, which should have been the main enclosure, possibly used by a high-ranking character.

    The most relevant cultural context of this platform was the discovery of a large quantity of human male bones, with evidence of violent death as a result of recurrent blows to the head by means of a s baton with a rock shaped like a star, a typical weapon of pre-Hispanic societies. Based on the studies carried out, it is inferred that this fact must have happened during the first years of the Spanish colonial administration and seems to have been the consequence of a local conflict over power and its relationship with the nascent colonial state. This event is associated with clear evidence of a massive fire of the buildings, which also affected the skeletal remains. Part of the ceramic materials recovered in this building correspond to fine ceramic fragments of the Wari and Moche Transitional styles, from the Lambayeque coast and Cajamarca.

b. Templo Mayor.

It is a circular building, located at 13 meters at the north side of the circular platform It has the shape of an inverted truncated cone, with the outer facing inclined towards the outside. It measures 13.5 meters in diameter and 5 meters high. In the central part it presents an orifice that leads to an interior space in a circular shape that served as an ossuary. There is evidence that would indicate that the building was roofed and the upper platform was the scene of rituals and ceremonies around the entrance hole. It is a unique building of its kind. Inside, a large number of human remains have been found loose, dispersed and disarticulated, as "secondary burials" consisting of the transfer of human remains from their place of origin to buildings considered sacred to this temple by social groups under the influence of Kuelap.

The exterior environment of the building is also associated with ritual burials of human beings, camelids, burn food rituals, fruits and objects made of exotic materials, such as Spondylus (sacred spiny shell), obsidian, semi-precious stones and ceremonial vessels of manufacture fine, belonging to the Wari culture and the Middle Cajamarca style, which highlight the ritual and religious function that this building had. This practice is repeated constantly in the sacred mountain in the outer wall of the site, in the wall of the Alto sector, in the walls and foundations of the houses, in the hollows of the natural rock, among others, with which they sacralized each one of such spaces (Narváez 2013, 133-136).

The Kuelap archeological complex has an extension of 218.33 hectares and its protected area an area of 09.67 hectares (see) In its immediate surroundings, the sites La Malca, La Barreta, La Petaca, Pampa Linda, El Imperio, El Lirio, San José and Las Américas, of lesser monumentality and in a regular state of conservation, are composed of funerary areas with mausoleums and sarcophagus. located in the outcrops that surround the Barreta hill, which reinforces the sacredness of Kuelap; as well as an extensive rural area conformed by sets of circular constructions associated to wide terraces and agricultural platforms towards the east side of the complex.


On both sides of the Utcubamba valley and at different distances from the Kuelap Archeological Complex, other residential sites that would have been under its influence are located. The archeological and historical investigations do not yet define the belonging of these deposits to the different curacazgos that have been indicated previously; nevertheless, through a wide range of evidences it is possible to affirm that they belonged to the agricultural communities settled in this section of the valley. The occupation of the territory by the Chachapoyas was generally in the ecological floors that allowed the agrarian production and the minor upbringing. Hence, they are associated with agricultural fields and other resources of the Quechua area, between 2,500 and 300 meters of altitude.


It is located in the district of La Jalca, province of Chachapoyas, on the summit of Ushparan hill, on the left bank of the Utcubamba river. It covers approximately 5 ha. The humid montane forest covers it almost completely, making it difficult to observe the architecture in greater detail. It presents circular constructions, mainly; and in smaller numbers, rectangular and quadrangular, which were built on artificial terraces. It comprises an average of 120 constructions, built with limestone finely edged together with mud mortar, on foundations up to three meters high. The dimensions of the circular enclosures vary between 8 and 15 meters in diameter; while in the case of quadrangular and rectangular enclosures, they measure between 12 meters long and 6 meters wide, 20 meters per side.

A predominant architectural element is the cornices or eaves, which are stone blocks placed on the head of the bases; whose purpose is to be a decorative element and / or to function as access and transit space of the structure. Also, the variety of geometric friezes that externally embellish the buildings, such as motifs in the form of a zigzag, double and separated by a horizontal line of slate stone, is significant, or in the shape of a diamond, biconcentric, triconcentric and as if it were in formation.

In the highest part, there is a building called "El Altar", which visually dominates the entire site from its location. It is a heptagonal construction, built with limestone. It has two concentric levels of 1.40 and 1.08 m respectively, on which a cross has been erected, symbol of the Catholic Church, present in this town and in the founding of San Juan de la Frontera of the Chachapoyas, today city of Chachapoyas. On each side of the walls of the lower level presents a rectangular niche.


It is located in the Levanto district, Chachapoyas province, on top of a limestone hillock of geologic clastic origin of the same name, at 2838 m.a.s.l., in the Quechua area. It has around 250 different constructions. Most of the buildings are distributed towards the east sector of the site and, on the other hand, in the rest of the sectors there are only numerous cultivated lands with blocks from some old constructions. It stands out in its summit, some circular buildings, built on a platform made of stone and clay, whose facade exhibits figures of concentric rhombuses of large dimensions. The other buildings are of similar characteristics, built on circular or rectangular foundations, arranged successively according to the terrain relief. Some have wall decoration based on diamonds and zigzags. The entrance spans are rectangular and there is no shortage of double or triple cornices, of finely cut limestones without reaching the tillage that marks the separation between the base and the enclosure itself. (Ruiz 2013, 218).


It is located in the Mariscal Castilla district, Chachapoyas province. The architectural complex is on the top and slope of the hill of the same name, on the right bank of the Utcubamba river. The circular buildings built on building terraces and small platforms have a layout from south to north. According to the inhabitants of the surroundings of the site, it comprises five sectors: Pirca Cunga, Pumaurco, Olan, Chichicumbal and Suni Pirca.

Pirca Cunga, is the most representative and best preserved sector. Presents 50 buildings identified to date. It shows several levels of platforms with perimeter walls that divide and organize the spatial distribution of multiple constructions. The buildings are circular, grouped in different spaces, and made of limestone of different sizes, cut and carved on the outside, which suggests an almost cushioned style. The joints of the stones are so exact, that the mortar is almost imperceptible, especially in the foundations of the buildings. Several of the constructions, and particularly those of the mentioned sector, present decorations of stone friezes of different motives, predominating the concentric rhombuses, and other geometric designs.


It is located in the Magdalena district, Chachapoyas province. It is located on the right bank of the Utcubamba river, in the area of ​​confluence with the river Condechaca, at approximately 1700 m. a. s. l. and 30 to 45 meters above the riverbed. It includes a space of artificial terraces between the slope that goes towards the river and the cliff at the back, and extends towards the watershed of the adjoining hill.

The terraces hold circular stone enclosures joined by straight walls of beaten stone and of homogeneous form, where cornices stand out, under which there are up to two rows of friezes with concentric diamond motifs. The union between the stones is made with a very thin mortar that results in the joints being free of vegetation and lichens that involve future damage.

The space between the constructions is very narrow, in some cases only allows the passage of one person at a time. At first glance, there is a great wall that is made up of a succession of semicircular constructions distributed consecutively as cloths, where each cloth joins with the other in the form of expansion joints, there being no interlock or gear between them. 

The importance of Macro is that, unlike the previous settlements located in the Quechua area, this was built in the bottom of the valley in order to manage and control the agricultural production of a warmer ecosystem and fishing in the Utcubamba River.


Chachapoyas mausoleums and sarcophagi are commonly considered isolated funerary components in the landscape. Inspections of the territory have shown that these structures are part of complex settlements, which integrate residential areas, with sacred spaces and productive areas.

In this sense, the funerary sites are associated with four elements: the village or site in the upper part of the outcrop, the mausoleums or sarcophagi placed in the profile of the same cliff, agricultural fields and agricultural terraces and finally water sources, which can be puquios, a river, an active ravine or a lagoon. These four elements are a constant found in the funeral sites presented in this nomination.

The model of mausoleums and sarcophagi keep the same constructive and decorative tradition in the territory of the Chachapoyas culture. Therefore, the most representative ones have been selected. According to its spatial distribution, taking the Kuelap site as its geographical axis, the mausoleums are located to the south; while to the north, you will find most of the sarcophagi.


The archeological site Revash is located in the town center San Bartolo, Santo Tomas district, Luya province, in a ravine of Cerro Carbón, which emerges amid lush vegetation. On the top of this outcrop is the settlement of circular houses and fields of culture, which are also located next to the base of the mountain, until its connection with the El Ingenio stream that flows into the Utcubamba river.

According to the archeological investigations it constitutes a set of thirteen mausoleums, that is to say, collective tombs of mummified bodies, in the manner of cubicles of different dimensions and rectangular plant, of one and two levels, arranged side by side. They were built with stone walls seated with mud and plastered with mortar of the same material. They present ceilings of wood and mud, to two waters, and they were acceded to them by small lateral openings, or by the walls. They are decorated with red paint on a white or natural background, representing zoomorphic and geometric symbolic motifs, made on the walls of the mausoleums and the cave.

The roof of the cave has allowed the mausoleums look, as a whole, a fairly good state of conservation. However, having been built on the edge of the cliff, their figures painted on the walls and rock art on the surface of the rock, have been conserved remarkably.

The most visible and prominent buildings correspond to two groups separated by a narrow corridor, located in a shallow cave, excavated by man in the calcareous rock of the ravine (Kauffmann 2003, 312-323). The mausoleums of Revash eloquently represent the prototype of mausoleum, plastered and with mural painting and are distinctive of the Chachapoyas funerary architecture.


The sarcophagus forms a unique and singular Chachapoyas funerary pattern due to the restricted form of its dispersion, which is limited to only a few sectors located in the middle and left bank of the Utcubamba River (Kauffmann 2003, 219). They are vertical structures of anthropomorphic, ovoid or conical roof dwelling type that house a single mummified individual in fetal position, strongly flexed (Narváez 2013, 115).

Karajia belongs to the town center San Miguel de Cruzpata, Trita district, Luya province. It is a set of several groups of sarcophagi among which stands one that preserves 7 sarcophagi almost intact, located in an inaccessible point of the mountain. They were built in the depressions of a rocky outcrop 24 m high, located on the western slope of the Aishpachaca ravine. They were made of clay, imitating the human appearance where a mask-like head stands out, which is cut out at its base to highlight the jaw; while the upper part ends in a point, similar to a conical cap. This peculiarity, as occurs in some cases, allowed to hold a mummified ritual human skull. The body is cylindrical and elongated, which is thinning in the upper part in the manner of shoulders and neck. They are arranged in a row and made from a frame of wooden poles placed lengthwise and joined with rope, which basically defined the body covered with mud with which also modeled the head. The decoration on the body is based on painted lines of two shades of red that stand out against the white background, highlighting the character's masculine attributes. Three more groups of sarcophagi were recorded near the main group (Kauffmann 2003, 228-230).

The shape of Karajia sarcophagi consists of a clay capsule that alludes to the body of the person adopting an elongated shape, facilitated by the material from which it was built. As for the head of the sarcophagus, it seems to reproduce the Andean funerary mask, made from a table cut out at its base to highlight the contours of the jaw. When being copied in clay, by the Chachapoyas, there was the possibility of modeling the nose, as well as other details typical of a person's head (Kauffmann 2003, 219-220).

Cerro El Tigre 

The archeological site is located in the San Gerónimo annex of the district of Jazan, on the left bank of the Utcubamba river, located on a hard-to-access cliff of the so-called Cerro El Tigre, at an altitude of 2,928 m a s l.

The funerary structures are built on the natural shelves of the cliff, which have been fitted with retaining walls to achieve a stable surface where the sarcophagi can be placed. Said sarcophagi have been elaborated from an internal support of cane and thin sticks tied with vegetal fibers, covered with a first layer of crude mortar of mud and straw and a second layer of fine mortar of mud mortar. Finally, on the surface of the sarcophagi, the polychrome decoration was applied in white, red, violet gray and yellow ocher of organic origin.

The site stands out for the amount of sculptures, its decoration and its state of preservation. According to the distribution of the sarcophagi, two groups are distinguished. The first group is located on the upper ledge of the cliff and is composed of a total of six sarcophagi; while the second group located on the lower shelf is composed of eighteen sarcophagi.

The partial deterioration of the sarcophagi has been due to natural actions due to climatic factors and vegetation, as well as to local animals (small rodents) No destructive anthropic intervention has been recorded to date.

Lagoon of the Condors  

The archeological site is located in the territory of the San Martin Region, however, the best possibility of access is from the Leymebamba district, Chachapoyas province, Amazonas region. On a rocky outcrop overlooking the lagoon of the same name, surrounded by cloud forest, at an altitude of 2,914 meters above sea level. The site includes a settlement of circular buildings located near the edge of the Lagoon of the Condors, which should have been one of the most important sacred spaces in this territory.

Seven are the mausoleums that make up the group, although only five are standing. These are enclosures built side by side, made with stone walls, covered with clay paste plastered in white and painted with geometric patterns of red horizontal bands, among other decorative motifs. They have a rectangular floor plan, built on the basis of only three walls; the rock wall replaces the one that would correspond to the back wall. The funerary enclosures rise up to 5 meters and have up to two levels. The superior is separated from the first by a platform, where the funeral bales rested. In this way, contact with moist soil is avoided. Likewise, the windows, with a slight trapezoidal inclination, constantly renewed the interior air, preventing the mummified bodies converted into bales from being destroyed given the high degree of humidity prevailing. The rocky ceiling of the grotto that shelters the mausoleums, also presents rock art in the form of symbolic figures, painted in different colors.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The property named Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley is an exceptional testimony of the autochthonous social development of the ethnic group of the forests of haze of the Valley of Utcubamba, placed on the northwest side of the Andes mountain range.

Its confinement in the humid forest, marked by the Marañón river, allowed this society an autonomous development, configuring itself in a socially differentiated society, but articulated politically and religiously, in a confederate system of different curacazgos existing in the territory around a hegemonic center, the Kuelap Archeological Complex, and united by tradition, language and worship, from the 500 to 1570 AD in which Kuelap and these social groups were forced to abandon their settlements definitively due to the measure of Indian Reduction, willing for the new Spanish administration in Peru.

The Kuelap Archeological Complex, is a unique and exceptional example of monumental residential architecture of elite, ceremonial and funerary with a peculiar style that differentiates in quality and complexity from the extinct Chachapoyas culture of his Andean and Amazonian contemporaries. It reveals the social hierarchy of Kuelap as leader of the nations or ethnic groups of the Chachapoyas region.

For its construction, it was necessary to plan and build an imposing building terrace, adapted to the relief of Cerro Barreta, and on which 422 buildings were erected. This construction mobilized a large amount of labor that resulted in the monumentality of Kuelap and the elaborate architecture of the residential-ceremonial, residential and funerary sites. The work requirements for the construction of these monuments were so great that they represent the results of communal activities and organized groups of several generations, with a centralized leadership, summoned to build these buildings, probably in the Andean way, the "minka" or collaboration under the "reciprocity" model.

The location of Kuelap, Ollape, Yalape, Macro, Olan, Revash, Karajia, Cerro El Tigre and Las Momias Lagoon, distributed along a natural landscape of dense forest and misty forests, the great amount of time and hand of work required by generations, necessary to build these monuments, as well as the quality and complexity of its architecture, are the sample of a highly organized and hierarchical society that knew how to take advantage of and live in harmony with a highly humid and adverse environment, such as the North-eastern Amazonian Andes.

Kuelap was, not only the political center of the Chachapoyas, but also a religious center of the greatest regional importance where the ethnic groups of this territory went on pilgrimage to pay a final tribute to their deceased and deposit them in this sacred site. It is also a singular and masterful expression of the Chachapoyas, the construction of mausoleums and the installation of sarcophagi in the hollows of cliffs and steep and inaccessible cliffs, or in natural caves or exprofesamente enabled, granted to the natural landscape of Utcubamba, of extraordinary scenic beauty, a relevant sacral connotation.

The buildings of Kuelap, with form and function typical of the Chachapoyas cultural tradition, demonstrate the symbolic and ritual importance that the site had at a regional level. The findings of cultural materials from places as distant as the northern Ecuadorian coast and the northern and southern mountains of Peru, are a clear indicator of the importance of the site and the pan-regional scope of its sphere of influence.

The Kuelap Archeological Complex represents the seat of the highly centralized political power that exercised supremacy over a confederation of curacazgos or extended ethnic groups in the territory of the Chachapoyas culture, under the aegis of a power that turned it into a mecca for the inhabitants of the Utcubamba valley.

Criterion (iii): The Chachapoyas culture was an autonomous, unique and exceptional social formation due to its own characteristics expressed in its architectural and symbolic testimonies, and its position in scenic places of singular and extraordinary natural beauty, characterized by imposing peaks and high cliffs, deep ravines and a dense forest corresponding to the tropical Montane Humid Forest Life Zone of the Alto Utcubamba Valley in the north-eastern Amazonian Andes.

Its population centers demonstrate a hierarchical social organization, formed by a confederation of nations that, without constituting a unified political entity, managed to plan and build monumental residential, administrative, religious and funerary construction projects that distinguish them and stand out from other cultural developments in the region, the continent and the world, by giving them an architectural style and location in the territory of remarkable singularity.

The most representative site of the Chachapoyas culture is the Kuelap Archeological Complex, considered an elite urban site of indisputable political and religious pre-eminence, and therefore, the hegemonic center that would exert supremacy over the ethnic groups of the territory; sample of it, would be the groups that inhabited the sites Ollape, Yalape, Macro and Olan, among others. Moreover, the importance of Kuelap was of pan-regional scope because it radiated beyond the north-eastern Andes, reaching very distant regions such as the north coast and highlands on the western side of the Andes.

In that sense, Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley constitute a representative, unique and exceptional testimony of the Chachapoyas cultural tradition. A highly developed society that was forged harmoniously in an adverse environment, becoming one of the most important political and religious entities of the North-eastern Amazonian Andes.

Criterion (iv): The settlement pattern of the Chachapoyas sites generally demonstrates not only the ability of humans to adapt to an ecosystem that is especially adverse for the development of complex cultures, it is also an exceptional example of harmonious adaptation to the environment. Characterized by landscapes of great scenic beauty of the Andean tropical forests.

In this sense, Kuelap and the Chachapoyas settlements that comprise the present proposal, demonstrate the planned adequacy of their buildings to the topography of the land, for not only defensive purposes, but also to avoid the constant landslides, through the use of construction systems efficient structural structures such as terraces, foundations, fillings and walls, made with stone and clay.

The circular floor of the stone buildings and the exterior decoration of its walls with various geometric and figurative motifs, constitute a significant expression of the Chachapoyas architectural style that gives it a unique distinctive seal, which has not been registered in other places in the Andean region. To these characteristics, the constructive and decorative peculiarity of its mausoleums and sarcophagi, and its remarkable location are added.

It is worth noting the great exterior wall as the outstanding architectural component of Kuelap that is repeated in smaller dimensions in other sectors of the site. These great walls constitute a significant and unique architectural expression, which gives the site monumental characteristics, which have not been registered in other sites in the region. Likewise, the presence of buildings of clear ceremonial nature, as well as the large number of secondary burials, show that Kuelap had a symbolic and ritual significance particularly important for the Chachapoyas. At the same time, they also demonstrate the relationship of interdependence with the communities that participated in the construction of Kuelap and left the remains of their ancestors there.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity


The authenticity of Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley is unquestionable and is justified by not presenting human interventions since its abandonment in the 16th century until its recognition and registration since the nineteenth century. From the first written references made by travelers such as Antonio Raimondi and Adolph Bandelier, to the exhaustive archeological investigations carried out mainly on the site of Kuelap by Alfredo Narváez between 1985 and 2011, there is a faithful testimony of the authenticity of the constructions that reflect the exceptional values ​​of the Chachapoyas sites of the series presented here.

Despite the inclemencies of adverse climatic factors, typical of the misty forest environment of the Northeast Amazonian Andes that have impacted the conservation of different sectors of Kuelap and the sites of the series -Ollape, Yalape, Macro, Olan- These factors have not significantly affected its architecture, so many of its components are in conditions that allow a clear and complete reading of the characteristics and attributes that convey the importance and value of goods. The mausoleums and sarcophagi -Revash, Karajia and Cerro El Tigre- are the singular cases, which have a greater degree of conservation, thanks to their location in caves and shelters of the cliffs, which has allowed most of them to keep largely free of environmental and anthropic impacts and are in a good state of conservation, including their polychrome.

The research and conservation works carried out mainly in Kuelap, with international standards, have not altered the authenticity of its circular or orthogonal structures, built with edged stone. On the contrary, these interventions have expanded the knowledge about the Chachapoyas culture and the settlements in the Utcubamba valley, the urban, architectural and artistic features of the site have been recovered, as well as the cultural and historical value of the Chachapoyas society in the Andes North-Eastern part and have revealed their inter-relations and pan-regional influences with nations as distant as those of the north coast and the northern and southern mountains of Peru.

The results of the scientific research carried out for more than two decades, allow us to affirm that the Kuelap Archeological Complex was the highest religious center of the Chachapoyas culture, a place of permanent pilgrimage put into evidence by the architecture of ritual use, primary and "secondary" burials of human remains that consecrated the site, and the sacred geography of the environment. It is evident that only the community work during a little more than 1000 years, made this monument possible, acquiring in the end "defensive" characteristics that protected the religious buildings.

The ordered and organized set of more than 400 buildings within Kuelap, alternated with spaces of highly ritual nature and public spaces, confer to the site a set of unique characteristics with respect to the universe of Chachapoyas sites in the northeastern Amazonian Andes of Peru.

The archeological record of the architectural characteristics and the state of conservation of Ollape, Yalape, Macro, Olan, Revash, Karajia, Cerro El Tigre and Laguna de las Momias allows us to categorically identify its authenticity as notable examples of the Chachapoyas residential and funerary building tradition. Further research in these sites, will allow in the future to define in greater detail its functionality, temporality and connection with the social groups that inhabited the territory of the Utcubamba Valley.


The integrity of Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley is justified because it gathers all the attributes that express the exceptional value of the property. Kuelap, Ollape, Yalape, Macro, Olan, Revash, Karajia, Cerro El Tigre and Laguna de las Momias maintain their structures and residential, domestic, ceremonial and productive features (platforms and warehouses), up to cemeteries and roads in good condition, however, with some alterations due to natural or anthropic phenomena or causes that have not implied the loss of their integrity.

One of the most relevant aspects is the fact that the great walls of Kuelap and many architectural structures of the sites not only maintain their original height, but that the most important buildings retain evidence of their original dimensions from the base to the headwaters of the walls. The partial collapse of some walls does not obscure the monumentality and the extraordinary conservation of architecture.

On the other hand, although vegetation is a factor affecting the architecture of archeological sites, it has become a kind of natural barrier that, in combination with the location of the sites on the peaks and slopes of the hills, has avoided erosion because of the constant rains of this area of ​​the valley.

In the archeological sites does not exists important human activities that goes against the conservation of the site. Nevertheless, the environmental agents of the Montane Tropical Forest Life Zone (Holdridge, 1971) constitute risk agents to the integrity of the sites whose action does not mean in severe damages in the structures.

The integrity of the Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley, guaranteed by the legal regulations of the Peruvian State that protects it. In this way, the archeological sites are protected by the Political Constitution of Peru (Article 21) and Law No. 28296, the General Law of Cultural Heritage, among other national legal aspects.

The Archeological Complex has a delimitation plan approved by Director Resolution No. 694/INC dated June, 2007, which is in land register actualization process, in the same way the plans of the site protection Ollape, Yalape, Macro, Olan, Revash and Karajia that are in approval process. This plans includes all the attributes with exceptional value of the property of this series.

Kuelap has an approved management plan in 2004 that needs to be updated. The Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, has been carrying out research and conservation work since 1985 by this time at the Kuelap Archeological Complex to continue with the recovery of knowledge and the value attributes of the property. It also has facilities for the management and transfer of visitors, as a hostel for tourist management and a gondola lift for the transfer of visitors to the vicinity of the site. On the other hand, the Laguna de the Condors, has a museum with community participation and a successful educational program, where the Chachapoyas mummies recovered by the Mallqui Association are exhibited due to their risk of destruction.

Comparison with other similar properties

Within the framework of the Typological Classification, the property Sitios would be classified as "Archeological Heritage". According to the ICOMOS study, in Latin America only 17% of the sites inscribed on the World Heritage List are placed into this category.

Within the framework of the Chronological - Regional Classification, Chachapoyas Sites of the Utcubamba Valley would be classified within the category "Amazonian Cultures of South America", which according to the analysis of ICOMOS, would not be represented in the World Heritage List (This study does not took into account the natural and mixed sites, so the Abiseo River National Park and the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, which are also located in this category, were not considered within the study).

Within the framework of the Thematic Classification, Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley would be classified under the subtopic "Uninhabited Urban Settlement" and "Sacred Settlement", the latter being a sub-theme of scarce representation in the List.

Therefore, it can be considered that the inclusion of Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley in the World Heritage Indicative List would be fully justified as it constitutes a distinctive site of several heritage categories that are underrepresented in the World Heritage List.

At the national level, there are two Peruvian sites included in the World Heritage List with which the Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley can be compared: The Abiseo River National Park and the Historical Sanctuary Machu Picchu, both located on the eastern slope of The Andes. In both cases, the Outstanding Universal Value resides not only in the relationship between architecture and nature, which also exists in the sites proposed by the series, but also in the exceptional cultural values ​​present in both sites.

  • Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (Peru), it is mixed property registered in 1983, according to criteria N (ii) (iii) C (i) (iii). It makes up a site that represents one of the greatest urban, artistic, architectural and planning achievements of the territory and the most significant legacy of the Inca civilization that integrated this extraordinary work into a natural framework of exceptional beauty. Due to its location at the confluence of the Amazon and the Andes, the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is home of an enormous natural diversity and is a refuge for endangered species of fauna and flora, useful for conservation and science. It is an exceptional example of harmonious integration between natural and cultural components.
    Despite being located in a tropical forest region of the south-eastern Andes of Peru, with similar characteristics of the Chachapoyas sites, the cultural differences between the two are undeniable. Both due to their social and political nature, and because of their nature seen in the use of the territory, urban planning, the architectural model, decorative art, among others.
  • Abiseo River National Park (Peru), it is a mixed property, registered in 1990 (Natural) -1992 (Cultural), according to the criteria N (ii) (iii) (iv) C (iii). It is a representative sample of pristine primary cloud forest and high Andean páramo (2,500 to 4,000 m.a.s.l.) in the northeastern Andes of Peru. The cloud forest survived and acted as a Pleistocene refuge of the Huallaga since the last glaciation, allowing a great diversity of species and a high degree of endemism. The existence of prehispanic sites indicates a millenarian development of continuous and stable human occupation in the past, which goes from the pre-ceramic period (8,000 years), as evidenced by the human remains in the Manachaqui cave, until the 16th century AD. The harmonious combination of the archeological sites and the undisturbed extensive natural areas, in the context of a steep orographic system of extraordinary scenic beauty, constitute a living laboratory as a reserve of the Cultural and Natural Heritage.
    Likewise, although both the Kuelap Archeological Complex and Abiseo River are within the scope of expansion of the Chachapoyas culture, the former is distinguished by being located in what would be the territorial nucleus of the Chachapoyas society in the Utcubamba valley and by have a set of residential, administrative, religious and funeral of high importance, investigated to a greater extent than the Abiseo River National Park, having revealed their functions and architectural features and funeral, for example the circular floor of the funerary mausoleums of Pinchudos in Abiseo River, versus those of orthogonal plant of Revash in Chachapoyas.

At a regional and global level Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley can be compared with other sites that, according to the ICOMOS study of 2005, correspond to the thematic categories of "Uninhabited Urban Settlement" and "Sacred Settlement", being the first category better represented on the World Heritage List than the second. However, the compared sites share an ecological environment similar to that of the Chachapoyas sites of the Utcubamba Valley, that of tropical forests, present mainly in Mesoamerica and Southeast Asia.

  • Tikal National Park (Guatemala), it is a mixed property registered in 1979, according to criteria (i) (iii) (iv) (ix) (x). In the heart of the jungle lies one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. The ceremonial center of Tikal contains great temples and palaces, as well as large quadrangular squares that were accessed by means of ramps. Remainders of houses are scattered in the surrounding forest. The site reflects the cultural evolution of the Mayan society, from hunter-gatherers to farmers who developed a very elaborate culture that finally collapsed in the ninth century.

  • Pre-Hispanic City and Palenque National Park: (Mexico), it is a cultural property registered in 1987, according to criteria (i) (ii) (iii) (iv). It is located in the heart of the tropical jungle; Palenque is an eminent example of Mayan sanctuary of the classical era. It reached its apogee between the 6th and 8th centuries, and exerted a great influence on the entire basin of the Usumacinta River. The ruins of Palenque represent only the central area of ​​a total area of ​​8 km2. The layout of the city is dominated by artificial terraces that transformed the topography of the area, creating a complex hierarchy of volumes and spaces where platforms and structures are organized in a harmonious way. The elegance and technical quality of its buildings, as well as the delicacy of the reliefs sculpted with mythological themes, highlight the creative genius of the Mayan civilization.

  • Xochicalco Archaeological Monuments Zone (Mexico), it is a cultural property registered in 1999, according to criteria (iii) (iv). Xochicalco is an example of a fortified political, religious and commercial center, characteristic of the turbulent period between 650 and 900, which followed the collapse of the great Mesoamerican states such as Teotihuacán, Monte Albán, Palenque and Tikal. The city was built on a series of natural mounds. The highest one is located in the center of the settlement. Large civil engineering works were carried out to build terraces and large retaining walls in order to create open spaces surrounded by platforms and pyramidal structures, which were connected through a complex system of roads, stairs and ramps. 

  • Ancient Maya City and Calakmul Protected Tropical Forests (Mexico), it is a cultural property registered in 2002, according to criteria (i) (ii) (iii) (iv). It is located in the deepest tropical jungle of the Lowlands of southern Mexico, Calakmul is an important Mayan site that played a leading role in the history of the region for more than twelve centuries. Its imposing structures and its characteristic global layout are in an admirable state of preservation and offer a vivid image of what life was like in an ancient Mayan capital.