by Enrico Mattievich

translation from Portuguese by Silvio Mattievich

Information sent by Enrico Mattievich via Email

on May 30, 2020





Chavín de Huantar



The ruins of the Andean labyrinth of Chavin

hold the key to the hidden significance

of the Greek myths...


Enrico Mattievich was born in 1938, in the Italian city of Fiume, now Rijeka (after World War II) and part of Croatia.


In 1949, with his parents, he immigrated to Peru.


He studied Physics and Mathematics at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima, where he later began teaching experimental physics. He also taught at the Universidad Cayetano Heredia.


In 1962-63, he worked as an assistant to Dr. Mutsumi Ishitsuka, astronomer at the Department of Solar Activity at the Geophysics Observatory in Huancayo.


In 1969 he undertook postgraduate studies at the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Fisicas, in Rio de Janeiro. on a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and received his Ph. D. degree in Physics in 1974.


He continued his academic career at the Department of Physics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, completing several studies in physics applied to mineralogy, paleontology and archaeology.

Since 1981, after visiting the archaeological site of Chavin de Huantar, and moved by the strange art and advanced architecture of that Peruvian culture, he has dedicated himself to the study of comparative archaeology and mythology.

In 2000, he was invited, by the School of Physics and Material Engineering at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia, to conduct research on a hundred-year-old geologic enigma, the 'Zebra Rock'.


Dr. Mattievich was able to demonstrate that the strange paterns of Zebra Rock (a silt stone) was formed from a liquid crystal phase coloidal solution, deposited under glacial conditions, at the bottom of the sea, in the Upper Proterozoic era, more than 600 million years ago.


Part 1



Unlike the path followed by Schliemann and later by Mertz and Pellech, whom from the heroic epic poems were in search of the facts and geographical locations which would have led to these stories, I, however, followed the opposite path.


From the palpable reality - the archaeological site of Chavín - an enigma since its discovery - I went to look for in Greek-Roman mythology, in search for an answer.


This paper, excerpted from my book "Journey to the Mythological Inferno", discusses the first part of the archaeological, geographical and documentary evidences, which favors the possibility that the mysterious remains of Chavín de Huantar, in the Peruvian Andes, are referred to in Hesiod's Theogony, a Greek treatise of the gods, written in the eighth century BC.



Atlas Mountain and The Palace of Night

In geographical literature and in Greco-Roman poetry there has always existed a close relationship between the "sustaining Titan" and the "land of the setting sun".


The binomial Atlas-Hesperides is quoted in the Theogony - a Greek treatise of the gods - written by Hesiod around the 8th century B.C.


According to this treatise, next to the Hesperides - which guarded the golden apples - somewhere in the western limits of the Earth, beyond the renowned Okeanos, where the Greeks believed to be Tartarus, the son of Iapetus - Atlas - transformed into a high mountain, supports the sky on his shoulders.

Hesiod describes the western divinities and their abode, next to Atlas, in the following verses of the Theogony. 1

274-277: the Gorgons who dwell beyond glorious Okeanos
at Earth's end, toward Night, by the clear- voiced Hesperides,
Sthenno, Euryale, and ill-fated Medusa,
who was mortalª; the other two were ageless and immortal.

517-519: By harsh necessity, Atlas supports the broad sky
On his head and unwearying arms,
at the Earth's limits, near the clear-voiced Hesperides,

734-747: There, dwell Gyes, Briareos and high-mettled Kottos (the tree Hekatoncheires),
ever the trusted guards of aegis-bearing Zeus.
There, in proper order, lie the sources and the limits
of the gloomy Earth and of mist-wrapt Tartaros,
of the barren sea, too, and of the starry sky
-grim and dank and loathed even by the gods –
this chasm is so great that, once past the gates,
one does not reach the bottom in a full year's course,
but is tossed about by stormy gales;
even the gods shudder at this eerie place.
There also stand the gloomy house of Night,
ghastly clouds shroud it in darkness.
Before it [the house of Night] the son of Iapetus [Atlas] stand erect and
on his head and unwearying arms firmly supports the broad sky.

The binomial Atlas-Hesperides was sought in vain by geographers and travelers who searched western region of the earth.


Three centuries after Hesiod, Herodotus - the Father of History - also searched the lofty mountain of the west. After traveling through Egypt and parts of Western Africa, Herodotus claimed to have located the famous Atlas!


The incredible episode is described in his Book IV, Chap. 184.

Strabo (66 B.C.- 24 A.D.) describes the geography of Africa and indicates that, on passing through the Strait of Gibraltar, there is a mountain which the Greeks called Atlas, the same one which the Barbarians called Dyris. Known as Daran by the Arabs. 2

This is the brief history of the mountain called Dyris or Daran by the natives of Libya which, after Herodotus, become known as Atlas. This mountain was also identified with the mythological "Silver Mountain" quoted by Aristotle, Meteorolgicorum Libri quattuor, and Promathos of Samos. 3

Herodotus' report permits us to consider the credibility of mythological narratives of the time. Paradoxically, with that episode, he contributed in such a way that, later, the Atlas-Hesperides myth was considered a fable.

If there ever existed a region that inspired the verses of Hesiod, it begins at the mouth of the Amazon River and continues along the extensive water basin that penetrates the dense Amazon rain forest, up to the Andean buttress Th, 739:

"grim and dank and loathed even by the gods."

Impressions of navigators who traveled along the Amazon more than three thousand years ago?

"This chasm is so great that, once past the gates, one does not reach the bottom in a full year's course."


Exaggeration? Or would it be the length of a dangerous sea journey from the Northern Hemisphere down to the Southern hemisphere, and then sailing up the gigantic river, until the impressive gates of the Pongo de Manseriche?


A deep and narrow gorge that strangles the Marañón River, trough mountains that rise 600 meters,

"This chasm is so great that, once past the gates, one does not reach the bottom in a full year's course but is tossed about by stormy gales; even the gods shudder at this eerie place."

Th. 740-743.

In the Upper Marañón, within the Pongo de Manseriche and its upper course, dangerous whirlpools form with frequency.

After crossing the Pongo de Manseriche and climbing the Upper Marañón from the stifling hot rain forest, one reaches the Andean ranges. Here, the Marañón River flows tumultuously northward among steep mountains.


On the left margin rises the Cordillera Blanca, named after its snow-covered mountains and glaciers. It is here that the Nevado Huascarán (6,746 m) towers over neighboring snowcapped peaks.


Continuing due south one reaches the headwaters of the Marañón - and of the Amazon - in the Cordillera Huayhuash, dominated by majestic Nevado Yerupajá Mountain (6,617 m).

The extensive Cordillera Blanca, stretching southeast to the Cordillera Huayhuash, has the highest peaks in the Peruvian Andes. The icy waters descending from these ranges flow into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


This is one of the most spectacular regions in South America.


According to Raimondi, in the southern part of Ancash Department, the snow-clad Cordillera is extremely impressive, and the traveler passing through this lofty region is constantly surrounded by massive snowcapped mountains, whose inaccessible peaks seem to be where earth and sky meet. 4

In this region, with the Greek Theogony in hand, and by literally following Hesiod's verses, one finds the "Palace of Night"- the Gorgon's abode - in front of the high Andes.


In fact, at the foot of these mountains, exactly as described in Hesiod's verses, we find a palace or, rather, the ruins of one, erected to the monstrous gods of antiquity. Ornamented with mythological monsters, this palace must have been a famous temple or oracle; the only one in the region that stands out for its impressive architecture constructed entirely of stone.


In the ruins of this palace, known as Chavín de Huantar, and in museum galleries in Lima, one can see the extraordinary works of art sculpted and engraved in stone, whereby one can easily identify monstrous entities such as the Gorgon, Cerberus and other children of Tartarus.


Fig. I - 1:

Map of Huascarán National Park

with the world's higest tropical mountains,

where the ruins of the Palace of Chavín de Huantar

are located.



The Palace of Chavin

The ruins of the Palace of Chavín de Huantar are located in Ancash Department, at an altitude of 3,180 m, in the narrow Mosna Valley, surrounded by high snowcapped mountains, on the eastern watershed of the Cordillera Blanca.


One reaches this site from Huaraz, the department capital, by way of the Southern Highway along beautiful Santa Valley, and then, from Catac, crossing the Cordillera Blanca (Fig. I - 1).


Prior to the archaeological work initiated by Julio C. Tello, in 1919, the ruins were partially buried under a thick alluvial deposit, accumulated from the runoff of the torrential Huacheksa Stream, that descends from the snowy peaks of the Uruashraju (5,722 m) and Huantsán (6,395 m) mountains.


The alluvial soil that covered and protected the ruins was suitable for farming, and eventually the inhabitants of the nearby village used the dressed stones of the palace to erect their houses. 5

The stone edifices unearthed by Tello's excavations exhibit a clear architectural unity.


Though there is evidence of construction in stages, the layout and symmetry of the whole complex of edifices, stairways, plazas and subterranean canals, reveal great planning (Illus. I - 1 and 2).


The architectural ornamentation consists mostly of ashlar masonry showing mythological representations carved in flat relief over granite, one of the hardest stones available (Illus. I - 5 and 6 and 10 top).


On the upper wall of the façades a series of monstrous heads were tenoned at regular intervals, which probably encircled the entire palace.


These granite heads, some weighing a half-ton, were supported by a rectangular tenon carved on the back, giving the impression of being suspended high on the walls without any means of support (Illus. I - 4 and 9).


Two perfectly cylindrical granite columns, carved with highly stylized mythological figures, flank the Black and White Portal on the eastern façade (Illus. I - 3).


The iconography of Chavín Palace is impressive for the quality of its features and the originality of its design, revealing a creator of extraordinary architectural and artistic skills, rivaling the best works found in the Mycenae (Illus. I - 10 bottom) and Orcomenos grave steles, in Greece.


If this palace had been unearthed there, no one would doubt the existence of Daedalus.



The Labyrinth

What surprises the visitor most is the apparent absence of an entrance to the edifice, as well as the total absence of halls and spacious rooms6.


As shown in Fig. I - 2, the edifice, which extends more than 10,000 square meters and reaches a height of 15 m, has only narrow corridors, giving the impression of a labyrinth.

The labyrinth is formed by a series of corridors of rectangular sections, constructed of massive rock-filled stone walls. These corridors are distributed over various levels, above- and below-ground, where it is possible to walk around easily (Illus. I - 7).


Other smaller galleries link the principal labyrinth with a subterranean network which, by its inclination and lateral curvature, indicates that it was designed to convey water.


These galleries converge at a central aqueduct that extends from the façade of the principal temple to the Mosna River, passing below the stairways and the main plaza. The central aqueduct is slightly inclined, and its section of approximately two square meters, indicates that it carried an appreciable flow of water.


This work of hydraulic engineering, worthy of Daedalus, and for which specialists still have not found a satisfactory explanation, induces one to meditate on the apocalyptic gods represented in that edifice.


This labyrinth was the starting point that led to a series of discoveries that became the basis of the present physical interpretation of myths.


Fig. I - 2:

Plan of the labyrinthine galleries of the Chavin Palace

(according to J. C. Tello)

 with the principal edifice A, the oldest temple B,

where the "Lanzon" is located, and edifice C

extensively destroyed.




The Gorgon

The architect of Chavín sculpted a terrible creature, which he placed in the middle of the labyrinth.


To maintain the secret of the subterranean mansion, a myth was spread, which perhaps not even its creator imagined would survive for such a long time.


The poets sang of the deed of the hero who had challenged this abominable creature. Now, dear reader, you will be taken to the Gorgon.

In fact, at the intersection of two subterranean galleries, forming a cruciform chamber, in the middle of the labyrinth stands a 4.53-meter tall diorite pillar, upon which rests the principal deity of the temple (Fig. I - 3).


Due to the lance-like shape of the monolithic pillar, it was called "Lanzón."


The "Lanzón" was suspended from above like a gigantic knife ready to strike. It remained in that position, held firmly between two slabs of granite (or quartzite), forming part of the floor of the room above. While cleaning the galleries, in 1919, it was loosened from its original position.


With that lamentable mishap, the pillar fell and lost its original alignment.

Curiously, the image of the terrible divinity, or rather, the Gorgon, was not represented as free to come and go as she liked. Like the Minotaur of Daedalus, the artist portrayed her chained to the middle of the labyrinth, with thick spiral cords. On the upper half she is held by the right arm, menacingly raised with the palm open.


In the lower part, there are two laterally engraved cords, held doubly secure below the feet.

Who kept her in that robust prison?


What sacrifices was she offered to pacify her and to deserve her favors?

In the narrow room above, where once two large slabs of stone supported the "Lanzón," one finds the sacrificial room; very narrow and of peculiar shape, measuring 1.8 m in height. In this minuscule cubicle the victim was placed, after crossing a span by means of a ladder or a portable bridge.


The altar upon which the victim was sacrificed was not found though, from other sacrificial stones found in minor places of worship in the Andes, one can presume that the victim's blood ran through an orifice in the floor, dripping over the frightening image of the Gorgon.


Tello states that the victim's blood trickled down the front of the "Lanzón."


On that side there are two deeply engraved parallel grooves in the rock which, according to the archaeologist, were used to convey the blood from the sacrificial room down to a circular depression, as if it were the third eye of the Gorgon.


This depression is located in the middle of a cross engraved on top of the idol's head.


The arrangement of the double grooves, states Tello, allowed the recently sacrificed victim's blood to go directly into the mouth of the great divinity, before spreading down the grooves of the stone idol. 7


Another archaeologist, Rebeca Carrion Cachot, believed that, besides blood, chicha (an alcoholic drink made from corn) was poured down, and that the "Lanzón" was the most ancient paccha, or rhyton, known in Peru. 8

When, in January 1981, I faced the imposing stone pillar (Illus. I - 8), below the sacrificial room, I tried to imagine how horrible it must have been to see it covered with blood.


If suffering and anguish could leave their marks on matter, that pillar would certainly contain all the lamentations of Hell. With that in mind, I extended my hand, closed my eyes and opened my soul.


Upon touching it, absolutely nothing happened; I only felt the cold surface, like a polished tombstone, as if it had been polished over a long period of time by the hands of nameless priests, with blood, fat and chicha, as it was usually done in ancient Peruvian rituals.


But, slowly I began to feel ill at ease. An overwhelming force entered my soul, inciting me to write without respite the results of my "journey."


Fig. I - 3:

A drawing of "Lanzón"

showing South Face A and North Face B




Chronology of Chavín de Huantar

The oldest historical reference to Chavín de Huantar is found in the chronicles of the soldier-historian Cieza de Leon (1518-1560), wherein he describes the ancient paths leading to these lost regions in the rugged mountains, some of which chiseled through rock, and mentions the locals' custom of extracting silver from the mines.


He relates that the palace appears to be an enormous fortress, more than 140 paces in width and even more in length, and that there are figures of human heads everywhere, admirably sculpted in stone, and which tradition attributes to great antiquity, executed by men of high stature (as he states, by giants), living there prior to the then governing Incas. 9

Imbelloni, in 1926, was the first to call attention to the similarity of the "Lanzón" image to the Greek Gorgon. Comparing it with the Gorgon's head at the sacred sanctuary of Syracuse (Sicily), 6th century B.C., one notices the remarkable resemblance of these images (Fig. I - 4).

Its analysis is interesting and deserves to be transcribed at length. 10


I don't believe that it is necessary to emphasize the similarity between the curve of the eyelids, the eyes and the nose. The relief that represents the lips forms an "ellipsoid" of the same relative size, inclusively curving its extremities upwards, with surprising fidelity.


However, the greatest effect is provoked by the spirals that represent the hair (transformed into serpents!) which in both compositions curl in the same direction, and their number is identical. In reality these facts arouse unexpected reactions in the mind of the observer.

This surprising impartially evaluated evidence would compel a competent researcher to delve deeply into the origins of the unquestionable resemblance of the images, investigating iconography and Greek mythology.


But since the intention of Imbelloni was to demonstrate the impossibility of ancient contacts across the Atlantic, instead of following the logical path, he chose a dogmatic solution, stating:

"To maintain an extremely strict conduct, the author does not state that it deals with the cultural dependence of Greece passed on to America."

And concludes:

"We are at the extreme limit of what we concede to be convergence."

That is, the resemblance between the Gorgonian images was so great, that it stretched the accepted limits of belief that they were culturally independent results.


In Imbelloni's time, there was no reliable method of determining the age of these archaeological monuments, and the hypothesis concerning the antiquity of the Peruvian civilization was wrong.


The influential Americanist Philip Ainsworth Means, for example, in 1919, believed that in the 13th century B.C., South America was a wild and uninhabited continent. 11


One is not concerned with the origin of mankind in South America (today, its presence can be confirmed as far back as 50,000 years ago). But one is certainly interested in the origin and evolution of the large pre-Colombian civilization of the continent (particularly, Peru), found in archaeological sites.


Through radiocarbon dating, archaeologists know that the Chavín culture, in its initial or formative phase, existed in various regions of Peru, as far back 1,600 B.C. 12


However, despite the importance of this culture, there are no absolute dates available to evaluate the age of Chavín Palace.

What is most surprising is that in recent decades a considerable amount of soil was excavated from the front area of Chavín Palace. An excavation was carried out in 1966-67 by the archaeologist Luis G. Lumbreras.


Another was initiated in 1972, with the collaboration of the archaeologist Herman Amat and his assistant, Marino Gonzales. 13


This last excavation was motivated by the tourist potential of the site, unearthing a circular plaza, 21 m in diameter, in front of the oldest temple, where the "Lanzón" stands.


However, despite the enormous volume of soil removed, no stratigraphic results or dates were presented, that could determine the age of the plaza, or at least, the period of its abandonment. This represents a real catastrophe for scientific archaeology, comparable to setting a library on fire.


The only data published corresponded to a charcoal sample found in one of the galleries of Chavín Palace, known as the Gallery of the Offerings, dating back to circa 780 B.C. 14


The fact that a skull and many other human bone fragments along with other offerings were found in the same gallery, could indicate that, already at that time, the palace was completely abandoned. The galleries no longer served their original functions, merely being used as a burial site or a place to deposit ritual offerings.

Without convincing arguments, some archaeologists sustain that the northern section of Chavín's temple (considered the oldest), was built around 1,200-700 B.C. 15


Others point out that, during the Lumbreras excavations, in 1,967, several types of formative ceramics were found in the Chavín site. 16


Bennett also states that the ruins belonged to the first period of the Chavín culture. 17


By gathering together these pieces of evidence one can tentatively estimate - until further studies are carried out by a more technically capable team - that the oldest section of the palace could have been built in the second millennium before Christ, probably around 1,300 B.C.


Fig. I - 4.

Gorgonian images from America and the Mediterranean
1. Athens, 2. Colombia, 3. Sicily (Italy) and 4. Peru.




Huari-Viracocha, The Andean Version of Perseus

Having identified the "Lanzón" as the oldest anthropomorphic representation of the Gorgon, and starting from the fact that it was the central deity of Chavín Palace, it is no surprise that a myth or legend regarding this important deity could have survived in the indigenous traditions of Peru.

In the Chavín region, formerly known as Conchuco, time had obliterated the significance of the stone idols and the palace, called "huacas" and "house of the huacas," respectively, by the natives.


Nevertheless, some traditions were preserved, referring to "Huari" as a god and to the homonymous heroes called "huaris" or "guaris," endowed with supernatural powers, similar to the deity. These traditions - generally considered ridiculous or the work of the devil - were often extracted from the natives, under force or torture, by the iconoclastic clergymen.


Hence, the traditions of the Conchuco region and nearby provinces, gathered in the 17th century, are considerably fragmented and confused.

The testimony of the native Domingo Rimachi to a Catholic priest, in 1,656, states that "Huari" was bearded (contrary to the beardless Peruvian Indians), and that he had come to pacify the Indians, who were killing each other over land rights.


He distributed land to each family, and taught them irrigation techniques. He also added that he had a "seat" of stone to "sit on," and that he had arrived in the form of a great and powerful wind. 18

Another tradition, recorded in 1,619, in Cajatambo Province, south of Conchuco, makes note of the god "Huari-Viracocha," described as a bearded giant, who came from Lake Titicaca a long time ago.


"Huari-Viracocha" was feared because wherever he went, he would transform humans into stone.


This ancient tradition, quoted by the French researcher Pierre Duviols, is a priceless document because, in it, we find the Peruvian version of the myth of Perseus, or rather, a fragment of it, which the iconoclasts rescued unknowingly.


This interesting mythological fragment states: 19

"The Indians from the province of Cajatambo had gathered with those of Conchuco to conspire against Huari.


In order to ambush and to kill him, they deliberately invited him to a grand feast [at this point of the story the conspirators are called 'huacas,' the name the Indians of Conchuco gave to the stone heads of Chavín].


After the huacas had arranged everything as planned, the gathering took place; but to their misfortune they did not consider that Huari, being a sage, had foreseen the treacherous trap, and there and then he transformed them into stone.


The house of Conchuco, where the huacas were petrified by Huari, was held in great veneration and given the name of House of the Huacas.


Afterwards, the Huacas replied to the questions posed by the 'kuracas' (tribal chiefs), who came from many regions to seek advice."

Through these indigenous traditions one can also deduce that the "House of the Huacas" was an important oracle.

Duviols, in publishing these important documents, did not realize they dealt with a legend parallel to the Perseus myth; neither did he suspect that the "Lanzón" was the oldest anthropomorphic representation of the Gorgon, inferring that the "House of the Huacas," where the conspirators were petrified by "Huari," is the same edifice known today as Chavín de Huantar.


That identification is based on the description of the iconoclastic priest, Vega Bazan, who mentions a very large subterranean temple, constructed of large stone blocks, with extensive labyrinths, where the god "Huari" was worshipped.


According to Duviols, that description coincides perfectly with the temple of Chavín, because no other temple - or vestige of one - in ancient Conchuco Province fits Vega Bazan's description, except Chavín de Huantar.


Moreover, Duviols mentions the document by Vasques de Espinoza, who describes Conchuco Province without referring to any underground temple, except that of Chavín.


In that document, Vasques de Espinoza describes the temple of Chavín de Huantar: 20

"Near the village of Chavín there is a stone edifice, well constructed, of notable size, which was a Huaca. That edifice is one of the most famous shrines to the Indians, like Rome and Jerusalem is to the Christians.


There the devil declared the oracles to the Indians, and to hear them, they came from all over Peru."

After the archaeological works carried out at Chavín by J. C. Tello, in 1940, a series of monstrous heads was unearthed.


Considering the power attributed to the Gorgon Medusa in transforming anyone into stone, these heads with bulging eyes which formerly decorated the outer walls of the temple, like trophy heads (Illus. 9a and 9b), are petrified witnesses that allow one to identify Chavín with the abode of the Gorgons, cited in Hesiod's Theogony.


Illus. I - 1.

The Palace of Chavín,

with the main plaza (foreground)

and Wachecksa Gorge (upper right corner)


Illus. I - 2

Southeast corner

of the main temple of Chavín


Illus. I - 3:

Black and White Portal of the main temple,

with two cylindrical columns of granite.

The perfectly cylindrical columns were made by machine,

in sectors, using a lathe.



Illus. I - 4:

Rear view of Chavín Palace.

The drawing, in the upper corner of the wall,

shows the cornice with Cerberus-like figures.

It also shows the original positions of the tenoned stone heads.

Of the seven heads which were originally placed in the western wall,

only two were found in situ by Tello's excavations.

Note the wall inclination and the vertical periodicity

of the stone-slabs: _.._.._.._.._..

(one thick, two thin, one thick, two thin,…).

The design is from J.C. Tello, "Chavin", Fig. 7, p.72.


Illus. I - 5.

Stele of a Gorgon, with 12 serpents.

The hands are grasping shells,

used as trumpets in rituals.



Illus. I - 6.

Stele, in the circular plaza, of a three fingered Gorgon

with two pair of wings, holding a club.

For someone the figure holds a staff resembling stalks

of the mescaline- bearing San Pedro cactus.


Illus. I -7(a)



Illus. I -7(b).

Labyrinthine gallery

in Chavín's Palace.


Illus. I - 8.

South side of the Lanzón monolith

with the Gorgon's large image



Illus. I - 9a.

Stone head, which decorated the outer walls of Chavín Palace.

According to Peruvian tradition, the stone heads,

tenoned on the outer walls of the Palace,

represented the "Huacas' who were petrified by the god Huari.

Note the bulging eyes,

 linking them to the power of the Gorgon head,

who transformed into stone

whoever gazed at her.


Illus. I - 9b.

Stone head which decorated the outer walls

of the Chavín Palace.



Illus. I - 10.

(Top) Chavin's stele.

(Bottom) Mycenae stele.

Both with spirals and sigmoids.


Notes And Bibliographic References

  1. The verses of Hesiod’s Theogony, which appear in the text, are according to the following English versions:

    1. Hesiod, Theogony Works and Days Shield, Translation, Introduction, and Notes by Apostolos N. Athanassakis, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.

    2. Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, Translated by H. G. Evelyn- White, The Loeb Classical Library, 1982.

    3. Hesiod, Translated by Richmond Lattimor, The University of Michigan Press, 1959.

  2. Cited by Malte-Brun, p. 84. Malte-Brun, Géographie Universelle, First volume, Sixth Edition, Garnier Frères, Paris.

  3. Cited by Jerome Carcopino, Le Maroc Antique, p. 54, Eighth Edition, Gallimard, Paris, 1948.

  4. Raimondi, A., El Departamento de Ancash y sus Riquezas Minerales, p. 4, Lima-Peru, 1873.

  5. Tello, Julio C., Chavin-Cultura Matriz de la Civilización Andina-Primera Parte, p.4 Imprenta de la Universidad de San Marcos, Lima-Peru, 1960

  6. Idem, Fig. 9; Between pages. 88 and 89, Imprenta de la UNMSM, Lima-Peru, 1960.

  7. Tello, J. C., El Dios Felino y Sus Transformaciones en el Arte Chavin, p. 309, Chap. III, Vol. 1, Inca, Lima, 1923.

  8. Carrion, C. R., El Culto al Agua em el Antiguo Peru, p. 66, magazine of the National Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, Vol. II, No 2, Lima, 1955.

  9. Cieza de Leon, Pedro de, La cronica del Peru, Chap. 82, Austral Collection, Espasa Calpe S.A., third edition, Madrid, 1962.

  10. Imbelloni, J., La Esfinge Indiana, Plate 15, Buenos Aires, 1926.

  11. Means, P.A., Memorias Antiguas Historiales del Peru, by Fernando Montesinos, Introduction XIX, London, 1920.

  12. Radiocarbon dates related to the Chavín civilization, taken from the table prepared by Ravines, Rogger. Panorama de la Arqueologia Andina, Institute of Peruvian studies, Lima, 1982.


    D: Department V: Valley; (Site)

    Age (B.C.)


    Associated /Culture

    D: Ancash
    V: Casma (Las Haldas)



    pre-Chavín ceramics

    D: Lima
    V: Lurin (La Centinela)



    Chavín ceramic

    D: Ancash
    V: Casma (Las Haldas)


    burnt plants

    Chavín ceramic

    D: Lima
    V: Omas (Mound 302)



    Chavín ceramic
    and corn

    D: Ancash
    V: Chavín de Huantar



    Chavín de Huantar
    (galleries of offerings)


  13. Lumberas, L. G., Informes de Labores del Projeto Chavín, Archaeology No. 15, National Institute of Culture, Lima, 1974.

  14. See ref. 13.

  15. Lumbreras, L. G. Los Origines de la Civilizacion del Peru, p. 52, Milla Batres Editor, Lima, 1983.

  16. Kauffmann, D. F., Manual de Arqueologia Peruana, p. 163, fifth edition, Ed. Peisa, Lima, 1973.

  17. Bennett, W. C., Ancient Arts of the Andes, p. 28, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1954.

  18. Duviols, P., Huari y Llacuaz, p. 156, Magazine of the National Museum, Vol. 39, 1973, Lima-Peru.

  19. Idem., p. 156.

  20. Idem., p. 157.






Part 2




This article, excerpted from my book "Journey to the Mythological Inferno", discusses the archaeological evidence of a subterranean system of channels, interconnected to the labyrinth of Chavín, built to produce powerful sounds by hydraulic energy.


The echoing resonance in the high mountains is mentioned in Hesiod's Theogony, which gave rise to the name "Resonant House of Hades and Persephone".


The article identifies the earliest representations of the "Fifty-headed dog of Hades" - Cerberus - found (and misnamed "feathered feline") in the excavations of the 21 m circular plaza, facing the oldest temple, where the great image of the Gorgon is found.


The article relates the vicissitudes of the Raimondi Stele, identified as the only existing representation in the world of the mighty Titan Typhoeus, as described in Hesiod's Theogony.


And, finally, it discusses who were the people associated with the construction of the main temple of Chavín.



Cerberus, The Watchdog Of Hades

Reading the following verses in the Theogony, one notes that the abode of the Gods of the Underworld, which one identifies with the Palace of Chavín, was not a silent place.


Strange and powerful sounds echoed through its halls, protected by a guardian of the gates.

767 There, too, stand the echoing halls of Hades,
whose sway is great, and of awesome Persephone.
A hideous and ruthless hound guards the place
skilled in an evil trick: wagging his tail
and wriggling his ears he fawns on those who enter,
but he does not let them out again;
instead, he lies in wait and devours those he catches

774 outside the gates of sovereign Hades and awesome Persephone.

As the plan of the Chavín Palace complex shows (Part 1 Fig. I-2), adjoining the Old Temple (Building B), where the large image of the Gorgon stands, is the main temple (Building A).


On its eastern facade lies the Black and White Portal. The large carved lintel spanning the cylindrical columns is comprised of two types of stone. The southern half is white granite, and the northern half - of which only a piece remains - is black limestone.


Its name arises from the symmetric distribution of colors. 1


The flight of steps leading to the portico was also constructed with two types of stone joined in the middle, in perfect symmetry with the portal. One half, next to the Gorgon's temple is black limestone, and the other half is white granite.


This is the main temple of Chavín. Could it be the temple of the god "Huari"? It displays a notable portico, flanked by two perfectly cylindrical columns of hard granite. Engraved on the surface of these columns are mythological images of two "protective demons."


Yet, despite being the main temple, no great image was found in it.

Could this be the feared House of Hades? Here, the absence of an image would be justified, seeing that in earlier documents Hades did not have a name, per se, but was only referred to as "the Unseen,"('ΑFιδης),later known as Hades ("Aιδης)by phonetic changes. 2


In that case, the temple of Persephone would be the Old Temple in which the large image of the Gorgon stands.


This identification of Persephone with the Gorgon Medusa should not surprise anyone reasonably familiar with Greek mythology, since the name is related to Perseus, her killer:

Persephone (Περσε−φονη) is the composite name of Perseus (Περσευς) and phone (φονη) - act or action of killing - and means "The one who was killed by Perseus". 3,4


Fig. II - 1.

Greek representation of Cerberus.



Fig. II - 2.

Apollo, Athena, Heracles, Hermes and Cerberus

 on a Tyrrhenian amphora.

Notice the serpent's head at the tip of Cerberus' tail.

The resounding palace of powerful Hades was protected by a cunning animal, the dreadful hound that protected his gates.


Greek mythology makes reference to a wide gate offering access to the "subterranean abode," its threshold protected by a terrible monster, the dog Cerberus.


Hesiod quotes the monster in verses 311-312 of the Theogony:

Cerberus, the fifty-headed dog of Hades,

that mighty
and shameless eater of raw flesh,

whose bark resounds like bronze.

The number of heads attributed to the watchdog of the Palace of Hades varies according to the author, sometimes having one, sometimes having fifty.


Also, its Mediterranean representations are not uniform. At times it is a common dog, at others it has leonine paws, or appears distinctly with serpents around its body (Figs. II 1-3).


What was the appearance of that infernal creature where it actually guarded the entrance?

On the rear cornice of Chavin Palace are two engraved figures, which were incorrectly named "feathered felines" by some specialists. It is certainly not easy to classify mythological fauna, yet one needs considerable imagination to term clearly engraved serpents' heads as feathers, as in Fig. II-4.


Rather than "feathered felines," one can call them mythological draconic images surrounded by serpents' heads.


Today, as in ancient times, it is difficult to determine the number of heads in that figure. Besides the principal head, there is another one at the tip of the tail, and two others sprouting from the jaw.


One of these figures is surrounded by 9 serpents' heads, while the other has 11.

A Greek vase of the 5th century B.C. (Fig. II-3), shows Cerberus surrounded by serpents' heads, analogously distributed and alike, but lacking the superior style of the figures engraved on the steles of Chavín.


The representation, which is found on a Tyrrhenian amphora (Fig. II-2), shows the head of a serpent at the tip of the tail of the two-headed Cerberus, comparable to the figures of the Chavín cornice.


Obviously, a cornice could not be confused with a threshold.


Meanwhile, starting in 1,972, similar figures were discovered on the steles surrounding a circular plaza measuring 21 m in diameter, set in front of the Old Temple, forming the threshold of the central staircase that leads to the image of the Gorgon represented on the Lanzón (Illus..II - 1 and Illus.II - 2 Top).


Could the Chavin Palace threshold be related to the threshold of the Palace of Night mentioned by Hesiod?


Fig. II - 3.

(Top) Drawing from a Greek vase showing Cerberus

surrounded by serpents,

similar to the images carved on the Chavín steles.

Fig. II –4.

(Bottom) Cornice of the rear corner of Chavín Palace

 (see Illus. I - 4, Part 1) with Cerberous-like images.



Finally, comparing the steles of the aforementioned plaza to those of the first circle of tombs in Mycenae (Illus. II-2 Bottom), dating circa 1,500 B.C., one notes similarities in technique, the framing of the designs and the spiral motifs that decorate the central figures.


Therefore, besides the Perseus myth, involving Mycenae and the Gorgon, Chavín also appears to relate to Mycenae in technique and iconographic art.



The House Of Life And Death

In Greek mythology there are many fantastic commentaries about the dog of Hades, but not all should be attributed to the unrestrained imagination of Greek poets, such as the origin of the medicinal plant aconite, which emerges from the bile in Cerberus' vomit. 5


The incredible art at Chavín is lavish and fantastic, such as the engraved design on a stone mortar fragment (Fig. II-5), found on the Chavín's site by Bennett, 6 and which was probably used for grinding medicinal plants.


The fragment bears the design of a mythological animal vomiting an unknown plant. The use of mortars appears to have been common in Chavín.


Tello dedicates five pages of his book to describing the various types of mortars found in the Chavín area and nearby sites. Some were unearthed intact, such as a massive diorite piece, 37 cm in length and 18.5 cm in height, sculpted in the shape of a mythological bird, the upper part hollowed out to form a rounded mortar, 16.5 cm in diameter.


Another piece found at Chavín, and which is presently at the University Museum, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Fig. II-6), represents a stone "feline," 33 cm in length and 16.5 cm in height, resting on four legs.


The "feline" is analogous to the aforementioned Cerberus-like monsters, engraved on the Gorgon temple threshold, at Chavín.


These objects, as well as other fragments used for the same purpose, were called "ceremonial mortars" by Tello. 7

But for what ceremonies?


Perhaps dedicated exclusively to a cult?


Or for the preparation of offerings to the gods or to be consumed during festivities or burial ceremonies?

To clarify this intriguing question one must consult Greek mythology again.

The most famous point for the preparation of drugs was the oracle of Dodona, of great antiquity, located in Epirus (some 20 km southwest of Ioannina). In this part of Greece the inhabitants conserve the glorious geographical deeds of the past, in the form of mythogeography, calling their own river Acheron, the largest river of Hades.


Homer relates in the Odyssey (I, 260) that Odysseus had sailed to Epirus in search of φαρμαχονανδροφονον (fatal poison), the poison used on arrow tips.

Another Greek myth, which seems to have elements similar to the oracle of Chavin, deals with the god of Medicine, Asclepius, son of the god of oracles, Apollo, and Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas.


The symbol of Asclepius, as well as the caduceus of Hermes, are similar to the one crowning the Raimondi Stele, one of the principal steles unearthed at Chavin.


It is said that Asclepius discovered the miraculous virtues of certain herbs on account of a serpent he injured, and which was cured by another one that carried a plant of miraculous properties in its gullet.


Convinced that everything has a cause, including illness, he worked to discover what was noxious to human health and what was able to reanimate mankind. He was worshipped in forests, medicinal springs and on high mountain tops.


The temple of Asclepius, in Athens, had a hot spring.


The god appeared in the dreams of the sick and gave them remedies for their illnesses.


Fig. II - 5.

(Top) Mortar fragment found in Chavín with engraved figures.

The outer surface (A) represents

an animal vomiting a medicinal plant.


Fig. II - 6

(Bottom) Cerberous-like stone mortar found at Chavín.


Besides being an oracle, as stated in Peruvian traditions, Chavín was, above all, a place of worship to a powerful divinity, of which we know nothing, except its anthropomorphic representation on the diorite pillar, located in the center of the labyrinth, and to which, indubitably, human sacrifices were offered.


Its temple was the house of death.


However, other buildings of Chavín Palace were used to recover one's health, not only through the words of the oracle, but also by way of medicinal herbs, prepared and ground in stone mortars.


The buildings - most probably used to treat the health of pilgrims visiting Chavín - must have been on the south side. One kilometer from this point, to the right of the modern road following the Mosna River, is a hot spring, which waters could easily have been piped to the temple.


This spring, according to Raimondi, emits sulphurous waters at a temperature of 45°C. 8


Here, again, we find the dual symmetry, so common in the architectural elements of Chavín: the Black and White Portal and the black and white flight of steps in front of it - which had to symbolize life and death.


To the left of the black steps, on the side of the Old Temple where the Gorgon stands, was the house of death; to the right of the white steps, where medicinal water flows, was the house of life.

This dual symmetry, so conspicuous in Chavín, is clearly evident in a myth of Apollodorus, which tells how the goddess Athena granted the gift of life and death to Asclepius, giving him the blood from the Gorgon's veins:

  • from the left side, to kill mankind


  • from the right side, to save it 9



The Image of Typhon on the Raimondi Stele

The most surprising mythological image unearthed at Chavín was not, as one would expect, the result of a systematic excavation.


One day, in 1840, while cultivating his land, a simple farmer, Timoteo Espinosa, found a large, well-cut and polished rectangular stone slab, on which was a carved image of a fearful god surrounded by many serpents.


He took it home to use as a table. 10

Twenty years later, Raimondi discovered the stele in the courtyard of Espinosa's house, and through his persistence the government decided to bring it to Lima.


Finally, in 1874, it was transported by the sergeant major José Manuel Marticorena, with great effort and using nearly two quintals (200 kg) of explosives, in one hundred detonations, to remove the rocks blocking the narrow paths in the Andes, between Chavín and Casma.

It appeared that the days of glory had returned to the god of serpents, but before returning to its pedestal and becoming an object of admiration, it had to undergo further tribulations.


In Lima, it was placed over bricks in a rustic, black wooden frame, exposed to the elements, in the courtyard of the Exhibition Palace.


The people called it "the Inca Stone."


The more curious visitors admired the great number of serpents which the complicated design bore; yet, according to José Toríbio Polo, no one gave it the least artistic or historical importance. 11


As if forty years of selfless work by Raimondi to Peru were in vain, two years after his death, in 1892, the stele was found completely abandoned near a weir, beside the Exhibition Palace, used as a plaything by children.


Toríbio Polo's complaints were a patriotic gesture to save the stele which otherwise would be sold to a foreign museum for a few thousand pounds sterling.


After it was moved twice, from one museum to another, the irreparable happened.

During a strong earthquake in Lima, on May 24, 1940, the stele fell down the steps of the Archaeology Museum, breaking into various pieces. 12

The stele, having survived three millennia; escaping undamaged from the hands of the peasants, who cooked and ate on it and which safely crossed the Cordillera of the Andes, was now broken into pieces in the hands of those responsible for its safety.

The "Raimondi Stele," as it is called in recognition of its discoverer, was restored and put on display in the National Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Lima.


The 17-cm thick stone parallelepiped measures 1.95 m high, 76 cm wide at the bottom, and 73 cm at the top. 13


However, neither the rock's dimensions nor type are important; rather, it is the elaborate carving on one of its surfaces. The high-relief design, engraved by the champleve technique, 5 mm deep, reveals a masterpiece of rare artistic conception, and executed with perfect symmetry by a steady and sure hand.


Its discoverer thought highly of it from the moment he examined it, stating: 14

"This stone is highly esteemed, for the intricate design, for the fine work and for the remarkable symmetry of such a difficult design, that a finer artist could not have done more perfectly."

And continuing:

"This stone, which is presently found in a house in the village of Chavín, is perfectly flat and polished.


The design represents a human-like figure, which has in both hands a type of scepter, formed by a bundle of serpents, and a large ornament above the head, composed of numerous serpents and large mouths with sharp fangs, similar to those on the image of the Lanzón.


It seems that the individual who worked on it wanted to represent the Evil Power."

In his notebooks, unpublished until 1943, Raimondi wrote:

"The top of the ornament ends in two twisted serpents, like the design on Mercury's caduceus." 15

All those who afterwards delved into Chavín's archaeology, at least once, tried to describe or interpret the engraved image on the stele. Some, like Tello's, were so detailed that the whole perspective was lost. 16


When reading scholars' interpretations, rather than being enlightened, an air of doubt and gloom arises, with little hope of ever understanding its significance.

Did José Toribio Polo correctly identify the image as the mythological god "Kon"?


Is he correct in assuming that the large heads with menacing mouths are those of the American bison? 17


Or, as Markham states, 18 is it the same entity that is represented on the monolithic "Gate of the Sun" doorway in Tiahuanaco (near Lake Titicaca, Bolivia)?


Is it a celestial god, carrying the sun's rays and lightning bolts in its hands, as suggested by Joyce? 19


Or is it a new mythological entity described by Uhle 20 as a "scolopendrid-tiger" (centipede-tiger), the monster that devours the sun and the moon during an eclipse?


Could it be a "bird-man," "tiger-like" or perhaps a "feathered-feline," as proffered by Kauffmann Doig? 21

Looking at these interpretations and a dozen others which space does not allow one to include, one could say that the Raimondi Stele acts like a magical mirror, reflecting what is in each person's thoughts.

Since the turn of the century, Americanists have been consumed by the wish to decipher this Peruvian Sphinx.


Who could discover its meaning merely by analyzing the elements represented in the image?


One must acknowledge the impossibility of finding a satisfactory answer by this method. There are innumerable examples of fruitless attempts to interpret myths and legends based solely on the elements contained therein.

Without trying to interpret the meaning of the image, one's immediate aim must simply be to verify if it is described in Greek mythology.


One must analyze quantitatively the engraved elements on the top half of the monstrous creature on the Raimondi Stele (Fig. II-7):

above the shoulders, one can count fifty serpents' heads and a hundred forms resembling tongues or feathers, which can also be interpreted as arms or legs.

Uhle, for example, called them scolopendrid's legs (centipede's legs).

Better than legs, they could be arms, since they are located above the shoulders.

Imitating the archaic style of the Theogony, the god represented on the stele can be described as follows:

The legs and arms of that full-grown tridactyl were adapted for work requiring strength.


With its tireless legs it carries over its shoulders several frightening dragons' heads with darting tongues, which eyes seem to glance menacingly.


Fifty serpents' heads and a hundred menacing arms project themselves above its shoulders.


It has an air of vigorous and invincible strength.

The artist who carved this "son of the earth and sky," wanted to personify destructive forces, represented by fifty serpents' heads and a hundred arms, as well as the powerful weapons held in his hands.


Fig. II - 7.

Design of the Raimondi Stele.

The drawing on the right (showing only half of the symmetrical elements) allows one to count 50 snake heads and 100 "arms" above the shoulders.


These elements, together with the monstrous heads with darting tongues, allow one to identify it with Typhon.

Unlike the Gorgon and Cerberus, both of which are found represented in America as well as in the Mediterranean region, the elaborate image on the Raimondi Stele was exclusively and solely found in Peru.


Once again, oracle-like, one finds the answer in Hesiod's Theogony, 147-153:

147 Gaia and Ouranos had three other sons, so great
and mighty that their names are best left unspoken,
Kottos, Briareos, and Gyes, brazen sons all three.

150 From each one's shoulders a hundred invincible arms
sprang forth, and from each one's shoulders atop the sturdy trunk
there grew no fewer than fifty heads;

153 and there was matchless strength in their hulking frames.

The poet, facing the stele, could not have described it better:

"A hundred invincible arms bursting out of its shoulders and from each one's shoulders atop the sturdy trunk there grew no fewer than fifty heads."

No one was able to describe it as accurately as Hesiod's verses, depicting these Titans or giants, called Εκατογχειρες (Hecatoncheires), "which have a hundred arms."


The coincidence with the god on the stele is quantitative as well.

This image with a hundred fists seems to conceal the key to many other enigmas. What phenomenon arose between the earth and the sky which impressed men so vehemently as to have them create a god so powerful?


Chavín Palace was erected to these gods and its fame reached beyond all borders.


The Nahoas or Nahuatlacas, an ancient and cultured people who lived in Mexico prior to the Spanish conquest, had also preserved the tradition of a homonymous god, whom they called "Ehecatonatuih," meaning the "Sun's Wind," the fourth and final one, who caused great destruction to mankind. 22

Hesiod mentions a trinity of giants.

What does it mean?


Is it simply a mytho-iconographic description?

In light of the present comparison, where we find an ancient Greek description of a deity coinciding with the image on the Raimondi Stele, we might be lead to interpret these Hecatoncheires as a myth describing three images at Chavín Palace.


However, this hypothesis is not completely satisfactory, since the Hesiodic myth splits into a fourth, similar entity, Typhon or Typhoeus, the apocalyptic god, characterized by infernal "theophonia" 23 (Theogony, 820-835):

820 When Zeus drove the Titans out of the sky
giant Gaia bore her youngest child, Typhoeus;
goaded by Aphrodite, she lay in love with Tartarus.
The arms of Typhoeus were made for deeds of might,
his legs never wearied, and on his shoulders were

825 a hundred snake heads, such as fierce dragons have,
and from them licking black tongues darted forth.
And the eyes on all the monstrous heads flashed
from under the brows and cast glances of burning fire;
from all the ghastly heads voices were heard,

830 weird voices of all kinds. Sometimes they uttered words
that the gods understood, and then again
they bellowed like bulls, proud and fierce
beyond restraint, or they roared like brazen-hearted lions
or - wondrous to hear - their voices sounded like a whelp's bark,

835or a strident hiss that echoed through the lofty mountains.

Now, with Hesiod's help, one can appreciate the monstrous heads which the Gorgonian deity carries upon its shoulders, the enormous dragons' mouths, darting triangular tongues that seem to utter incomprehensible sounds that remain crystallized in stone.


The Hesiodic description portrays Typhon as similar to the hundred-armed deity found on the Raimondi Stele.



The Resounding Palace of the Subterranean Gods

I needed to return to the archaeological site of Chavín to confirm a hypothesis which, at first glance, seemed absurd, but which could be factual due to the persistent association of sounds attributed to the Gorgonian entities identified in Chavín's iconography.


That hypothesis induced me to question the fundamental concepts of Peru's archaeology and proto-history.


It began after my first visit in 1981, when I realized that the labyrinthine structure of Chavín Palace could have been constructed for acoustic purposes, so as to simulate the sound of the gods.


These sounds (which shall be called "theophonia" from the Greek theo = god or the gods, and phonia = sound), along with the frightening appearance of the gods represented in Chavín Palace, must have caused a terrifying effect.

How were powerful sounds produced within that huge structure?


Who was the inventor of the formidable 150,000-m3 stone organ?


An acoustic instrument weighing more than 200,000 tons, the largest ever built on earth!

To unravel that burning question I returned to Chavín in January 1,983, to search for any signs of sound-generating structures that could have produced and amplified them within the galleries of the palace.


With the help of the custodian of the archaeological site, Gregorio Perea Martinez, I was able to verify that, in fact, the audio-visual setting of the ancient palace, where the personifications of the Gorgon, Typhon, and Cerberus were identified, must have been extremely sophisticated.


The worshippers of the Underworld were impressed not only by frightful images, but also by terrifying acoustic effects, that could have been produced inside the palace.


Perea showed me the underground galleries, which were constructed to handle a considerable flow of water. I was able to walk inside the central duct, located below the main plaza. Its nearly 2m2 section could have handled the water from several of the palace's galleries, channeling it to the Mosna River.


Today, the rear outline of the channel entrance, which carried the captured waters of the Wacheksa Stream, is unknown. The frequent landslides, and the construction of a road behind the palace ruins, destroyed all evidence of the channels.


Fortunately, along the front of the temples, on the eastern side of the palace, one can still find some ducts, vertically orientated or sharply inclined, as shown in Fig. II-8.


These ducts, which shall be termed "excitators," as can be deduced from a simple analysis of its internal structure, could have been excited by a stream of water, yielding thunderous sounds, similar to conventional organ tubes when excited by a stream of air (Fig. II-9).

Two of these "excitators," Illus. II - 3 and Illus. II - 4, are found in front of the main temple, and their water intakes can be seen by lifting a stone slab.


On top is a lateral canalization, where the water entered, before falling into the vertical duct. The ducts are rectangular, and are formed by properly laid stone slabs.


An important detail allows them to be characterized as acoustic "excitators": on the lateral canalization, through which the stream of water entered, there is an overhanging stone slab (on the upper part of the vertical duct), forming a type of tongue, which forced the stream of water to form an arc, as shown in Fig. II-9 by points B and F.


The isolated air in chamber C began to oscillate and the labyrinthine galleries of the palace, in communication with the "excitator" through the acoustic duct D, started to resonate, producing and reinforcing sound.


Fig. II - 8.

Longitudinal section of the channel located

below the flight of steps in front of the oldest temple,

where the "Lanzón" lies.

The cross-section shows the acoustic duct,

beneath the "tongue", which probably

connected this "excitatory" to the labyrinth.

Drawing after: "Informe de Labores del Proyecto Chavín"

by Luis G. Lumbreras, Arqueologicas N° 15.

Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas,

Museo Nacional de Antropología y Arqueología.

Instituto Nacional de Cultura. Lima, 1974.

Just as the custodian of the site had informed me, other archaeologists had also reached the same conclusion; some even attempting to produce acoustic oscillations by emptying a barrel of water down the vertical duct.


But, understandably, due to the small quantity of water and the inappropriate means to excite it, they were unable to produce any sound at all.

It is highly probable that the fearsome, roaring animal-like sounds, described in the aforementioned verses (820-835), were related to those produced in Chavin Palace, imitating the "theophonia" of Typhon, the strident Gorgons, and the powerful bronze voice of Cerberus.


Though the timid efforts of the archaeologists were unable to prove anything, this does not mean that more than 3,000 years ago the builders of the palace, who appear to have been far more capable than the excavators, were able to achieve hydroacoustic sounds, for which all evidence indicates is the reason for the construction of the labyrinth at Chavin Palace.


Fig. II - 9.

Right drawing shows the longitudinal section

of a hypothetical subterranean acoustic "excitator",

stimulated by hydraulic energy.

A.Water intake; B. Overhanging stone slab, forming a 'tongue';

C. Well where the air oscillate, stimulated by falling water;

D. Acoustic duct connecting chamber C with the labyrinth E;

F. Flow of water. Left drawing shows the longitudinal section

of an organ pipe, stimulated by compressed air.


Illus. II - 1.

Chavin's steles with Cerberus-like figures,

located on the threshold of the Circular Plaza of 21 m,

in front of the Old Temple of the Gorgon.

These steles were carved in identical pairs,

 and it is likely that were originally seven pairs

on each side of the staircase.


Illus. II– 2.

(Top) Chavin's stele.

(Bottom) Mycenae stele.

Both with spirals and sigmoids.



Illus. II - 3.

Top view of an acoustic excitator with the flagstone removed,

located in front of the main palace of Chavín.

The arrow indicates the direction of the water flow.


Illus. II - 4.

A second acoustic excitator,

in front of the main palace of Chavín.




Discussion And Conclusions

The oldest literary reference associates the Gorgons with the house of Argos and Pallas Athena.


Homer, describing the aegis of Athena (Iliad, V, 741 and 742), says:

"therein is the head of the dread monster, the Gorgon, dread and awful, a portent of Zeus that beareth the aegis",

...and further on (Iliad, XI, 32-37), describing the armor of Agamemnon, the greatest Greek hero who fought at Troy, quotes again the horrible Gorgon, with its frightful gaze.

One notes in ancient traditions, reported by Homer, that there was no motive to fear the Gorgon, only her head. Narrating the wandering of Odysseus through the Underworld, Homer points out, at the end of the eleventh book of the Odyssey, the great fear that the Gorgon's head caused.


Odysseus, fearing that Persephone, the goddess of the Underworld, will send the frightful head against him, abandons the House of Hades and sets out to navigate the deep ocean currents.

The productions of sonorous chords are constant in the myths of the Gorgon.


Pindar (Pythian, XII, 30) relates that the music was invented by Pallas Athena, on the occasion of the Gorgon's death. Athena invents the flute, composed of canes and thin sheets of bronze, inspired by a sinister melody produced by the groaning of the Gorgon and the hissing of serpents.


Beyond the constant association of Medusa with the emission of sound, another important observation is that beneath some shrines, where Medusa was represented in stone, ran a stream of water.


When describing the monuments of Argos, Pausanias relates that beneath the sanctuary of Cephisus one could hear the flowing of a river.

He says that here one finds the head of Medusa sculpted in stone, which local traditions indicate as another work done by the Cyclops (Pausanias, Book II, xx, 6 and 7).

At this point it is appropriate to remember the remarks of Professor Marinatos:

"Wherever later myth told of the Heroic Period, the accuracy of the tradition has been proved by excavation". 24

The following discussion of evidences about the origin and meaning of Chavín - still unpublished - is launched here in advance of the second part of my book, in preparation.

On the standing stones as,

Raimondi stele, Tello obelisk, and many others, as well as on the sacred pillar of Lanzón,

...the apocalyptic gods were "enchained".


The Palace of Chavín, in its time, was the most important oracle and religious center, not only in the Andean region, but in all South America.


Chavín was comparable to Delphi and possibly was founded as a copy of it. Obviously, all these sacred stones received blood sacrifices, as the blood of sacrifices offered to massebáh (standing stones in Semitic shrines and temples) and bethels (sacred pillars) by Canaanites.

The Lanzón, with the chained image of Gorgon on it, was the principal deity of the "Old Temple", but, the much larger "New Temple", with the Black and White portal and two cylindrical columns of granite, identified as the Palace of Hades, probably gave the name - Chavín - to the entire palace.


Which is most surprising, its name is not of Greek origin.


As we shall see, the toponymy of places near Chavín, with remains of old monuments, as well as the same name Chavín, indicate a Semitic or Canaanite origin.

The "New temple" was probably constructed to maintain "chained" the most feared new god -- without any representation -- the almighty Baal-Shamem, which means "Lord of Heavens", also spelled Shamen, Shamim or Shamin.


The Quechua words are without the letters b, c, d, g, v, x and z. so, Baal could not be spelled in Quechua, and was lost.

The title "Lord of Heavens" used for the various supreme gods in Syro-Palestine, Anatolia and Mesopotamia during the second millennium B.C. later became the name of a specific deity venerated throughout the Semitic world from the first millennium B.C. until the first four centuries of the Christian era. St. Augustin refers to him as Dominus Coeli.


The earliest Phoenician attestation of Baal-Shamem comes from Building inscription from the 10th century B.C. of King Yehimilk in Byblos. Here Baal-Shamem is named before the 'Lady of Byblos' and 'the assembly of the gods of Byblos'.


He represents the summit of the local pantheon.


This is also true for the Karatepe inscription dating for the last decades of the 8th century B.C., where he heads a sequence of gods, being named before 'El, Creator of the Earth'.


In the Luwian version of this bilingual inscription, the 'Weather-god of Haven' corresponds to Baal-Shamem. Later, in the Hellenistic period, a temple at Umm el-Amed is dedicated to Baal-Shamem.


In Greek inscriptions from this region he is called,

  • Zeus hypsistos, 'Highest Zeus',

  • Zeus megistos keraunios, 'Magnificent lightning Zeus'

  • Theos hagios ouranios, 'Holy (Lord) of the heavens and the earth'

At Hatra, in North Mesopotamia, Baal-Shamem (various spellings b'lsmyn, b'smyn and b'smn) had his own sanctuary. 25

In Palmyra, Baal-Shamin is one of the prominent gods with Bel, and both on the Greek inscriptions of Palmyra has the name of Zeus. 26

At short distance of the village of Huantar, on the left bank of the Puccha or Mosna River, which passes in front of Chavín, there are remains of a monument of Chavín style, named Onga.


Onga or Onka, which is the Phoenician name of Athena, is related to Cadmus.


When Cadmus was leaving Delphi, told by the oracle to follow the route of the Sun, he discovers an immense serpent, against which he wages a victorious battle.


He sows its teeth, from which emerge armed warriors, who fight each other to the death. With the five remaining survivors, he founds a town as ordered by the oracle, where he established a cult of Athena Onga.


See the geographic interpretation of Cadmus myth in my book "Journey to the Mythological Inferno", Chapter IV.

On the Pacific coast, approximately at the same latitude of Chavín, on an elevation between two rivers, and a hundred meters above sea level, in 1937, Julio C. Tello discovered the archaeological site of Sechín, homonymous to one of the river that flanks it.

The terraced platform of Sechín was adorned on its outer wall with approximately 400 engraved granite stones.


The wall portrays a war scene in which two columns of warriors approach each other from opposing sides amidst the carnage of their adversaries.


The engraved stones represent severed human bodies writhing in agony; triumphant warriors are adorned with severed heads, bleeding heads of defeated soldiers and a stone with a large pile of decapitated heads.


The stone frieze at Sechín is one of the oldest dated Andean stone carving known at the present time, dating in the middle of the second millennium B.C. 27


Richard L. Burger, without the slightest intention of suggesting a Semitic influence on Sechín, compares the bloody scene with the biblical Joshua' conquest of Jericho.

In Chapter IV of my book two carved monoliths of Sechín are shown.


I suggest that Figure IV-5 shows a nautical quadrant engraved on the stone, and Figure IV-6 shows a Phoenician-like vessel. I believe that the toponymy of Sechín could be Semitic, homonymous to the Canaanite town of Sechem, also spelled Sichem.


Fig. II - 10.

Samarian stone masonry,

with the wall inclination and vertical periodicity of stone-slabs:

 (one thick-two thin) as the Chavín's walls of the "New Temple".

See Illus. I - 4 (Part 1). After: A.G. Barrois, O.P. "Manuel D'Archéologie Biblique"

Tome I, p. 115, Paris, 1938.


Fig. II - 11.

Fragment of stele found in Chavín.

Showing part of an engraved Babylonian? or Assyrian? style god.

Under his feet it is possible to distinguish several Greek letters

of an inscription.

Dimensions: 1.25 m wide and 0.74 m height.

After: "Chavín" J.C. Tello, p. 226.

An attentive observer could also find Greek toponyms nearby Chavín:

as the district of Gorgor, at Cajatambo province, 28 Northeast of Lima, and the village of Gorgorillo (Spanish diminutive of Gorgor). 29


These toponyms are related to the Greek name of the Gorgon (Γοργϖ).

In the second millennium B.C., Canaan, Crete, and what is now Greek territory, formed a single cultural entity.


Herodotus (II-44; IV-147ff.; VI-47; etc…) knew about the early Phoenician contact with them (Greeks). 30


It is worthy noting that their combined presence (Phoenician and Greeks) is also confirmed in ancient Perú.

Notes and Bibliographic References

  1. Rowe, J. H., El Arte de Chavin; Estudio de su Forma y su significado, p. 9, Monograph edited by INC., Ancash, 1987.

  2. Rose, H. J., A Handbook of Greek Mythology, p. 78, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, 1958.

  3. Jung, C.G. and Kerenyi C., Essays on a Science of Mythology, p. 127, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1973.

  4. Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Ulrich Von. Der Glaube derHellenen, I, pp.108f. Berlin, 1931

  5. Rose, H.J., Ibid., p. 216, note 138, Quoting Herodoros.

  6. Tello, J.C., Chavin, p. 300.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Raimondi, Antonio, El Peru (Mineralogical and Geological Studies) Vol. IV, p. 280, Libreria e Imprenta Gil, Lima, 1902.

  9. Apollodorus, Book 3, X, 3.

  10. Toribio, P. J., La Piedra de Chavin - Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Lima, p. 195,Year IX - Volume IX, second quarter, Lima, 1899.

  11. Toribio, P. J., Ibid., third quarter, p. 274.

  12. Tello, J. C., Chavin, p. 188.

  13. Toribio, P. J., Ibid., p. 279.

  14. Raimondi, A., El Departamento de Ancash y sus Riquezas Minerales, p. 215, Publisher. El Nacional, Lima, 1873.

  15. Raimondi, A., Notas de Viajes para sua obra El Peru. Second volume, p. 144; Imprenta, Torres Aguirre, Lima, 1943.

  16. Tello, J. C., Chavin, p. 190.

  17. Toribio, P. J., Ibid., p. 264.

  18. Cited by Tello, J.C., Chavin. p. 190.

  19. Ibid.

  20. Ibid.

  21. Kauffmann, D. F., Manual de Arqueologia, p. 210, Lima, 1973.

  22. Barberena, S. J., Historia de el Salvador, Vol. 1, p. 232, El Salvador, 1966.

  23. Not to be confused with theophany, a manifestation or appearance of God or of a god to man. We denote theophonia as the imitation of the presence of the gods by means of the emission of sounds (from the Greek theo = god or the gods or deity, and phonia = sound).

  24. Spyridon Marinatos, "Crete and Mycenae", p.92, Harry N. Abrams, INC, New York.

  25. "Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible" Edited by Karel Van der Tooren, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. Van der Horst, p. 149, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, (1999).

  26. Antiquités Syriennes - Premieère Série - Extrait de Syria 1931-1932-1933, p. 87, Librerie Orientaliste, Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1934.

  27. Richard L. Burger, "Chavín, and the Origins of Andean Civilization", p. 79, Thames and Hudson, 1995.

  28. Antonio Raimondi "El Departamento de Ancash y sus Riquezas Minerales", p.247, Lima , Perú, 1873.

  29. Ibid. P.246.

  30. Cyrus H. Gordon "Before the Bible" - The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilization- p.216, Plainview, New York, 1973.