• 2012-06-08 - Archaeologist investigates legend of mythical ruler of ancient Peru


Archaeologist investigates legend of mythical ruler of ancient Peru
By Cynthia Lee

Mar 13, 2012


Long before the Spanish arrived in Peru in 1530 and brought with them a written language with which to record history, legends about ancient Peru were passed down through generations by oral “historians� who were trained to flawlessly recount these stories of mythical heroes and villains.

Among the most colorful of these stories was the legend of Naymlap, the fearless founder of a centuries-old dynasty that supposedly ruled the Lambayeque Valley in northern Peru.

A figure from a mural that was discovered on the interior wall of an open courtyard on the north side of Huaca Chornancap, a truncated pyramid


As the legend goes, Naymlap arrived with a vast fleet of balsa rafts carrying an entourage that included a chief wife and many concubines. He also brought with him an idol made of green stone, and he built a palace where it was installed. In his court were a trumpeter who blew through shells much prized by the Indians; a servant who scattered the dust of pulverized seashells on the ground where Naymlap tread; and servants who tended his every need, from an official bather to the keeper of his feathered shirts.


Throughout Naymlap’s long reign, the tale continued, people enjoyed peace until his death, kept secret by his attendants who — fearing that his followers would find out their venerated leader had succumbed to this human fate — buried him in the same room where he had lived. Saddened by his mysterious disappearance, many of his followers abandoned their homes to find him.


The ancient search for Naymlap was, in one sense, re-launched in modern times by an internationally known UCLA archaeologist who set out in 1980 to determine whether the story could actually have occurred in real life by excavating two adjacent sites in the Lambayeque Valley: Chotuna and Chornancap.

Archaeologist Christopher Donnan.





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