enhanced satellite image of Anenue of Pots at Monte Sierpe

Enigmas of Monte Sierpe and Nazca

by - March 20, 2014

Strange wonders and unexplainable constructions are a hallmark of Peru. The geoglyphs at Monte Sierpe are only an exception in that it is the least discussed despite being amongst Peru's most enigmatic and unexplainable mysteries.

The 'Avenida de los Hoyos' [Avenue of Pots] is a geoglyph consisting of a series of large basin-like potholes carved in the tough dry dirt along the ridge separating two dry valleys, appears to slither up the slope for miles. Certainly, Monte Sierpe (the nearby town) has gained it's name after this serpent. While the name 'Monte Sierpe' sounds like 'mountain serpent', the word monte actually means jungle in Quechua we are told by Lucio Hancco Sumire who is Quechua himself.

photo of an excavated 'pot' at Monte Sierpe

Very little published information can be found about the strange holes aside from a few notes written about them by Erich von Daniken (in his novel Evidence of the Gods in which he attempts to tie such enigmas into his theory of alien visitation) and footnotes in the works of Federico Kaufman Doig (Peru's famous archaeologist who coined the name 'Avenida de los Hoyos'). Lucio suggests the only source of knowledge is cultural: “We don't know much about pre-inca history because it is not recorded in written language but rather with icons in various forms”.

Our quest for answers to the mystery of Avenida de los Hoyos begins with an expedition to the site. We set out from Paracas, passing Pisco, then another thirty minutes drive past Humay to Tambo Colorado where, Lucio explains, there is another archaelogical site that may help us uncover the meaning and intent of the strange geoglyphs nearby at Monte Sierpe. The drive following the Pisco River is beautiful - a green valley with a contrasting desert mountain backdrop.

photo of Tambo Colorado

At Tambo Colorado we discover a vast site with many crude tombs. “Tambo Colorado has been dated during the Inca period however it is important to remember that while the Incas were conquerers, they did not always conquer other cultures by force” explains Lucio.

“They [the Inca] built structures in harmony with older sacred sites to forge their relationship with the inhabitants …”

Rather, the Incas forged a powerful relationship with the Chincas who were the dominating culture of the area in the time. “They built structures in harmony with older sacred sites to forge their relationship with the inhabitants and we see that here in Tambo Colorado, structures in the style of Inca beside much older structures and crude tombs built prior to and not in the finer Inca style” concludes Lucio. While artifacts and burials from the Inca period have been found in the tombs themselves, Lucio feels that the tombs are likely pre-inca and likely thousands of years old.

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