It is estimated 95% of the Ventarrón archaeological site in Peru has been destroyed by fire, including one of the oldest murals in the Americas.

Flames Ravage Peruvian Temple and one of the Oldest Known Murals in the Americas

(Read the article on one page)

A fire has destroyed much of a 4000-year-old temple site in Peru, including a wall painting which is said to have been one of the oldest known murals in the Americas. Almost 95% of the site has been ravaged by the flames.

The Ventarrón archaeological site after the fire.

The Ventarrón archaeological site after the fire. ( Ignacio Alva Meneses )

CNN reports that the Ventarrón temple in Peru's northern Lambayeque Valley was discovered by archaeologists in 2007. The temple has been dated at 4,500 years old, and the mural was carbon dated to 2000 BC. Archaeologist Walter Alva told El País that the people living in the preceramic culture which created the mural had a fire cult.

The artists used brilliant colors of yellow, red, and blue pigments to depict a deer caught in a net and their local environment at a time when the region had more lush vegetation.

The mural of the deer in the net before the fire.

The mural of the deer in the net before the fire. ( Proyecto Arqueológico Cerro Ventarrón )

Ignacio Alva Meneses, director of the Ventarrón Archaeological Project, lamented the loss, stating :

"We have lost the cradle of our culture. Five thousand years of history, the original temple, the origin of the Northern Peru civilization, mural art and the oldest and most complex symbolic meanings destroyed in a few hours. The losses are irreparable."

According to the BBC, residents living near the archaeological site apparently tried to stop the flames from consuming the temple, but they were unable to hold it back. The Peruvian news agent El País says the fire began as a planned burn set by the agribusiness Pomalco to burn a field of sugarcane. However, this common method used to clear crops got out of control and when the flames reached the inflammable plastic roof of the site it was beyond control.

Parts of the Ventarrón archaeological site were looted in the 1990s, however National Geographic reports the stairs to the temple were not located or accessed until 2007. Preserved pottery and art were found at the site as well as parrot and monkey skeletons. The artifacts suggest the site pertains to the formative period (when societies began to become more complex) and it may have served as a location on a trade or ceremonial route in prehistoric Peru.

Salvador del Solar of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture believes that some parts of the site can still be preserved and told El País that work has begun to review, clean, and protect what remains of the site from the elements.

The Ventarrón archaeological site consumed by flames.

The Ventarrón archaeological site consumed by flames. ( Ignacio Alva Meneses )

Top Image: It is estimated 95% of the Ventarrón archaeological site in Peru has been destroyed by fire, including one of the oldest murals in the Americas. Source: Ignacio Alva Meneses

By Alicia McDermott

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Human Origins

Cult scene: the worship of the sun-god, Shamash. Limestone cylinder-seal, Mesopotamia.
In a recent article on Ancient Origins, Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer discussed the possibility that Zecharia Sitchin mistranslated several Sumerian Texts. According to Sitchin, there were a number of Sumerian seals that relate to the Anunnaki, whom he said came from the heavens to create man and enslave mankind to work in the mines.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article