Mysterious Volcano-shaped Pyramid in Peru baffles experts

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A group of archaeologists has carried out a new investigation of a pyramidal structure known as “El Volcán” in the valley of Nepeña in Peru. Ever since its discovery, archaeologists have been left perplexed by the structure and its mysterious shape, modeled in ancient times to mimic the form of a Volcano. It should be noted, however, that there are no volcanoes in the vicinity of El Volcán to serve as models, nor indeed are any other examples of volcano-shaped structures known from Peru or elsewhere.

In order to understand more about the enigmatic Pyramid, a team led by emeritus professor of the University of Missouri (USA), Robert Benfer, has investigated the construction discovered in the 1960s and published a study in the journal Antiquity.

The structure known as ‘El Volcan’ has a height of 15.5 meters, with an inner “crater”, similar to that of a volcano.

Scientists excavated a ditch in the volcano crater and discovered a collapsed ladder that descends under a layer of adobe to a plaster and mud floor – and a hearth containing charcoal and shell.

Furthermore, thanks to radiocarbon dating experts were able to reveal the unusual occurrence of four total solar eclipses at the site over the span of just 11 years, an indicator that the structure may have been used to celebrate the victory of the moon over the sun indicates the Daily Mail.

According to data published in the Journal Antiquity, it is not known exactly when the structure was built, but its proximity to the late Formative center of San isidro—between 900BC-200BC—suggests that there may be a link to this period.

The authors of the study wrote:

“The date at which the pyramid was first constructed is currently unknown, although the site’s proximity to the Late Formative Center (900 BC–200 BC) of San Isidrio (Chicoine & Ikehara 2014) is suggestive. Surface ceramics from San Isidrio resemble some of those found at El Volcán, but these lack context and may have been imported to the site with soil from nearby areas.”

While the pyramid isn’t that tall—comapred to other structures in Central and South America, the strange crater-like feature of this pyramids makes its unique.

Ever since it was discovered, archaeologists and experts have been left baffled by the enigmatic structure.

In the new study authors wrote:

“When viewed from a distance, the site resembles a volcanic cinder cone, such as the one in the Andahua Valley in southern Peru and we have therefore named the site El Volcán. It should be noted, however, that there are no volcanoes in the vicinity of El Volcán to serve as models, nor indeed are any other examples of volcano-shaped structures known from Peru or elsewhere.”

At this early stage of the investigation, the El Volcán site presents a conundrum. The unusual shape of the pyramid merits note, but it is not obvious what might have prompted its construction or what activities might have taken place there. Two main explanations have been put forward, one arguing that later looting or erosion has created the site’s distinctive form and the other that the site was originally constructed to resemble a volcanic cone and can be linked to astronomical events and ethnohistorical accounts.

Experts concluded—based on present evidence—that the pyramid was originally and deliberately constructed in the form of a volcano—a cone-shaped pyramid with a central pit.


A prehistoric pyramid in the shape of a volcanic cinder cone, Nepeña Vallery, Peru


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