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Tambo Colorado is one of Peru's most underrated archaeological sites. This centuries-old burial site, extremely well-preserved in its bone-dry setting, was discovered beneath the sand dunes by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello in 1925. Dating back to the 15th century, Tambo Colorado, or Pucahuasi in Quechua (Huasi means "resting place," and puca means "red," after the color of the stone from which it was built), is thought to have been an important Inca administrative center for passing traffic on the road to Cusco. It was also where Inca runners waited to relay messages. With runners waiting at similar stations every 7 km (4¼ miles) or so, messages could be passed from one end of the country to the other in just 24 hours.
The site comprises several sections laid out around a large central plaza. Notice that the plaza's distinctive trapezoid shape is reflected throughout the site—look for trapezoid windows and other openings—and thought to have been an earthquake-proofing
measure, necessary in this extremely volatile region. The site has withstood the test of time, but that hasn't stopped generations of visitors from etching personalized graffiti into its walls. A small museum here has some of Julio Tello's original finds, including funeral fards (burial cocoons), dating from 1300 BC to AD 200 and wrapped in bright cotton and wool textiles embroidered with detailed patterns. Some skulls showed evidence of trepanation, a sophisticated medical procedure involving the insertion of metal plates to replace sections of bone broken in battles where rocks were used as weapons. Samples from Tello's original dig are also on display at the Museo Julio Tello near Paracas.
Via Libertadores, 40 km east of Pisco, Pisco, Ica, Peru
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