Authorities from the local district of Barranca are investigating reports that part of Era de Pando, the ruins of a city belonging to the civilisation that built the nearby capital of Caral, have been occupied by local farmers with the intent of destroying a pyramid to build a reservoir to water the crops they are planting in the ancient site’s plaza.
Just one month ago archaeologists had attempted to work in the area but were threatened with hostility by the illegal occupiers, forcing them to request protection from an as yet unresponsive police service.
The association of farmers defended their actions and intentions by stating they had acquired ownership of the land and have deeds. Authorities contest however that the archaeological site was declared national heritage in 2000, a time when there were no occupiers.
Archaeologist Ruth Shady, who brought this, one of the oldest civilisations in the Americas to the attention of the world, explains that Era de Pando is a contemporary to Caral. Although it does not possess monuments of such tremendous scale as its neighbour, it does occupy a large area of 79 hectares.
Caral is not the only site under threat by illegal occupiers. The most vicious have been squatters at the Bosque de Pomac site, who are formed by heavily-armed violent locals who kill endangered species, burn down some of the last remaining tracts of dry forest, dig holes in pyramids and murder police officers attempting to enforce the law.
The site is located in the lower half of the Supe valley on the northern side of the river and at the mouth of a dry dusty gully just metres above the fertile valley floor. Its size and distribution tell us it was an urban settlement rather than any type of ceremonial centre.
Authorities, who will inspect the site tomorrow at 10am, state that other archaeological sites in the valley are also under threat. The similarly aged site of Lurihuasi is being built upon with modern materials.