Julio C. Tello Site Museum

Located very near to Paracas Town (5 km), inside of Paracas National Reserve, it's small size, it possesses an interesting exhibition of the evolutionary process of the Paracas culture, textiles, ceramics and reproductions of their daily life.

Paracas magnificence and history are necessarily associated with the scientist Julio C. Tello, known as "The father of Peruvian archaeology", who discovered this set of cemeteries and necropolises from the Formative period connected to Paracas culture. It was doctor Tello, who between the years 1925 and 1930, identified and characterized this culture, famous for its beautiful polychrom mantles, which were given to know worldwide.


The Paracas were experts at mummifying their dead; in the mummies, you can see the peculiar practices of cranial deformation and cranial trepanation, or brain surgery. The Paracas also admired trophy heads, and warriors often attached the heads of defeated foes to their armor to instill fear into their opponents.


After the reserve was established in 1975, the museum was built to house artifacts and interpret the archeology and culture of the Paracas, as well as the rich natural life of the marine reserve.


Valuable reamins of Paracas Culture as ceramic pieces, textiles and funeral bales can also be appreciated in the Archaeological Museums of Peru, Larco Herrera, De la Nación in Lima.


Near the museum is the Paracas Necropolis (100 B.C.-A.D. 300), comprising the archaeological sites of Cabezas Largas and Cerro Colorado.


Paracas cemeteries

Paracasis known for the beauty of the natural scenery, the richness of its funeral ritual, the quality of its textiles, and its advanced knowledge of surgery dating back to 2.500 years ago. Almost 60% of the patients who underwent cranial trepanations are estimated to have survived the operation.


In 1925, Peruvian archeologist Julio C. Tello unearthed the first remains of the Paracas civilization. Their splendid fabrics- witnessing to a rich magical vision of this civilization's social lifewere woven in cotton, the wool of South American ruminants or a mix of both, and decorated
with brightly colored embroideries in woolen thread. One of the most frequent characters is depicted as a line drawing of bird-and feline-like
human beings holding a scepter, severed heads, arrows, plants and various emblems. It is variously represented in standing and flying position, looking straight ahead or to the side. The oldest Paracas human remains date back to at least 5.000 years BC, attesting to impressively continuos human habitation in an oasis and desert environment that seems to have changed little in thousands of years. Around approximately 400 BC The peninsula started to look like a gigantic cemetery. Generation after generation buried their dead in the desert sand, thus turning the area into a land of the dead. Tombs were dug deep in the shape of a bottle. A large underground chamber that could hold 30 to 40 individuals wrapped in fabrics was accessed through a long and narrow well. This configuration is at the origin of the Paracas Caverns name given to this stage of their evolution. Hundreds of these burials were found by Tello in the 1920s, fundamentally in the Cerro Colorado zone, near the present day Paracas site museum.


Towards 200 AD, funeral habits changed. At this new stage- Paracas Necropolis- the grouped individuals were interred at a lesser depth, frequently among the garbage in houses of former occupations, although always in funerary bundles wrapped in textiles, located one next to the other. Wari Kayan and Cabeza Larga, cemeteries of this type, provide many of the best evidence of textile art and pre-Hispanic surgery. The fabrics wrapping the buried corpses, a product of their creative work, were made of cotton using natural dyes. They are one of the most outstanding achievements of Andean techniques and aesthetics. During its complex history, the peninsula became also attractive for the inhabitants of neighboring regions. Pottery found in the Paracas Necropolis burials, specially the most recent one, shows a series of cultural patterns originated in the immediately neighboring valleys, Pisco and Chincha, area of the Topara culture.

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