35 Secret Underground Passageways Discovered Beneath Chavín De Huántar Temple Complex In Peru

An important discovery has been made by archaeologists working at the Chavín de Huántar archaeological site in Peru. Scientists report the discovery of 35 secret passageways beneath the Chavín De Huántar temple complex. Archaeologists have also found ancient ceremonial vessels inside the 3,000-year-old temple.


“Its strategic position between the eastern and western Andean highlands on an access route to the amazonian jungle allowed the site to amass influence and it is believed to be the center of what archaeologists call the Chavin civilization.

The site was first inhabited around 1500 BCE. It has massive temple structures with significant subterranean cave-like galleries, pyramidal platforms, courts, and sunken plazas. Recent research has shown that the subterranean galleries may have been used to project large sounds, like those that could be obtained from the numerous elaborately carved conch shells found onsite. The effect undoubtedly would have created a mystical experience for the pilgrims and travelers visiting the site.”

The passageways were found earlier in May and have features believed to have been built earlier than the temple’s labyrinthine galleries. The discovery was made by the team from the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Research and Conservation Program at Stanford University.

Located 3,200 meters above sea level, at least 35 underground passageways have been found over the years of excavations, which all connect with each other and were built between 1,200 and 200 years B.C. in the foothills of the Andes.

The story goes back to 2019 when a gallery was discovered through a small duct, located in the depths of one of the main buildings in Chavín, called Building D. Thanks to the images of a robotic camera, a room could be seen closed that had an object in the center.

Due to the pandemic, the investigations ceased, but recently, John Rick, an archaeologist at Stanford University, and director of the research project was able to enter through the narrow passage, about 40 centimeters in diameter. The tunnel led to the hidden gallery.


“It’s a passageway, but it’s very different. It’s a different form of construction. It has features from earlier periods that we’ve never seen in passageways,” John Rick, an archaeologist at Stanford University who was involved in the excavation said.

Once inside the gallery, scientists discovered was turned out to be a sculptural ceremonial stone bowl. On the upper part of the ancient bowl, there is a three-dimensional carving depicting the head of a condor, on the sides it has its wings engraved and on the opposite side of the head it has a bird’s tail etched.

According to Andina, “another simpler stone bowl or vessel with a refined rim was also found. Both pieces are 30 cm. in diameter. The condor pot weighs 17 kilos.

It is estimated that the bowls were deposited as offerings at the closing of the gallery 3,000 years ago. Due to this finding, this complex has been called the Gallery of the Condor.


From this discovery, Rick and his team affirm that this monument had galleries for more than 3,000 years, indicating that the one found is the oldest known to date.

In addition, the archaeologist said that this environment is purely ceremonial and represents a transitional space of time between the late pre-ceramic site of Caral, and the middle and late formative as Chavín has been known since before.

This project, which is carried out in coordination with the Ancash Department of Culture, receives financial support from Antamina.

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