500-year-old statues found in Peru

Cristobal Campana, director of one of the teams working at Chan Chan, told EFE Tuesday that the statues were discovered at the entrance to the Ñan An palace, the most modern building on the site.
Chan Chan, located near the southern city of Trujillo, was the capital of the Chimu kingdom, and had in its period of maximum splendour as many as 60,000 inhabitants in an area of 1,400 hectares.
The citadel is made up of palaces, administrative centres and temples in the form of pyramids with decorated walls.
Campana said that the statues, in a fine state of conservation, belonged to the penultimate stage of the Chimu culture, which was defeated and its lands occupied by the Incas.
While the anthropomorphic figures, which measure between 60 and 70 centimetres are indicated by their dress to be males, they display symbols of the two sexes, Campana said.
The statues found with cream-coloured faces, a low headdress and with the Peruvian Spondylus seashell in their hands represent femininity, while those with the faces painted white, a tall headdress and with Conus fergusoni seashells in their hands represent masculinity.
Campana said that other statues found between 1997 and 2006 in the archaeological complex have spears in their hands, a difference that gives "vital importance" to the new discoveries.
The new wooden statues "are welcoming life", Campana said, in contrast to the anthropomorphic figures found previously which fulfil the symbolic function of being on guard.
The expert also said that all the statues had their noses and seashells broken with a chisel, a fact that could be associated with a "change of government or situation", probably the Inca conquest of the Chimu empire.
"This was an intentional, arranged act, it didn't happen by chance, it wasn't done by some spiteful individual. Someone gave an order (to break these elements)," Campana said, adding that an in-depth study of this coincidence in the statues is still needed.
In 1986, Chan Chan was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, though it is also on the list of endangered heritage sites due to the fragility of its structures caused by the area's rains and intense heat.

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