Archaeologists Excavate Ancient Wari Temple in Peru

Unprecedented D-shaped temple to be further investigated in 2015.

An international team of archaeologists under the joint directorship of Dr. Maria Lozada of the University of Chicago, Dr. Hans Barnard of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology of UCLA, and Lic. Augusto Cardona Rosas of the Centro de Investigaciones Arqueológicas Arequipa, Peru, have uncovered what they identified as an ancient Wari temple with a configuration in the shape of a ‘D’ in the Lower Vitor Valley of southern Peru.

“We have identified extensive Wari influence and possible presence at Vitor, including a D-shaped temple and significant quantities of Wari-influenced ceramics,” write Lozada and colleagues about the site discoveries. They have also uncovered a “strong  and substantial presence of local populations”, indicating a mix of local and Wari-influenced culture at the site.*

Digging at a location approximately 40 kilometers west of the modern city of Arequipa, Peru, the team has unearthed a variety of ceramic and textile remains at the site, including skeletal remains found within a local Ramada culture cemetery. Focusing on evidence uncovered for the Early Intermediate (ca. 200 BCE – 800 CE) and Middle Horizon (ca. 500 – 1000 CE) occupation periods of the valley, the scientists hope to be able to answer questions related to the degree to which the local Ramada culture was incorporated into the Wari Empire as well as the role and influence of Wari culture in this area of the Andes.

vitor1aAbove and below: Skeletal and textile remains unearthed at the cemetery site.


vitor4aAbove: Specialists examining the remains in the lab.


The Wari, or Huari, was a civilization that flourished in the south-central Andes and coastal areas of what is modern-day Peru from about AD 500 to 1000 (Middle Horizon period). It expanded to cover much of the highlands and coast of Peru, establishing administrative centers, developing a terraced agricultural technology and a vast network of roads, at least some of which provided a foundation for the same for the later Inca civilization. 

In 2015, the team plans to continue excavations at the D-shaped temple under the direction of Lic. Augusto Cardona, as well as continue with surveys under the direction of Dr. Hans Barnard. In addition, they plan to conduct analyses of the materials excavated from the temple and materials they previously excavated from the Ramada cemetery during 2012 and 2014. The analyses will include an examination of skeletal remains, ceramics, and textiles uncovered during the field seasons.

The research is being conducted through the support and auspices of the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, Dumbarton Oaks, the community of Vitor, and the Ministerio de Cultura del Perú.

The Institute for Field Research is coordinating field work at the Vitor site. More information about the excavations and how one can participate can be found at the Vitor Archaeological Project website. See the video below.




All images are Vitor Archaeological Project YouTube video stillshots.



Just released!

The special new premium quality print edition of Popular Archaeology Magazine. A beautiful volume for the coffee table.



Travel and learn with Far Horizons.


Read about the most fascinating discoveries with a premium subscription to Popular Archaeology Magazine.  Find out what Popular Archaeology Magazine is all about.  AND MORE:

On the go?  Get the smartphone version of Popular Archaeology as an app or as an ebook.


Popular Archaeology’s annual Discovery Edition eBook is a selection of the best stories published in Popular Archaeology Magazine in past issues, with an emphasis on some of the most significant, groundbreaking, or fascinating discoveries in the fields of archaeology and paleoanthropology and related fields. At least some of the articles have been updated or revised specifically for the Discovery edition.  We can confidently say that there is no other single issue of an archaeology-related magazine, paper print or online, that contains as much major feature article content as this one. The latest issue, volume 2, has just been released. Go to the Discovery edition page for more information.