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How Scientists and Citizens Are Protecting Ancient Ruins in Peru

How can a historic archaeological site become a protected part of the crowded city that threatens to take it over for development? Pachacamac Site and Sanctuary Museum director Denise Pozzi-Escot has worked to solve this challenge with the help of the Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI) and the surrounding community of artisans. Via National Geographic:

Like many archaeological sites in Peru, urban growth has encroached on the area. The site’s perimeter walls create a drastic line between utter spaciousness in the sanctuary and crowded development. Opportunistic land developers periodically organize mobs to knock down the walls protecting the site and claim ownership of the land…

SPI’s programs focus on providing local residents, primarily women, with business and artisan skills so they benefit from Pachacamac’s tourism, and therefore rely on its preservation… These women have formed an organization that they control and run themselves called Sisan (“flowering” in the local Quechua language) where they create and sell products related to the site’s cultural history and iconography. Their business is profitable and self-sustaining, and they are proud defenders of Pachacamac…

“I think what makes me most happy is knowing that the people here feel like they are a part of their own history and of Pachacamac,” says Pozzi-Escot. “That is the most important thing.”

Settled around 200 A.D. and explored by archaeologists in the 1890s, Pachacamac is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited site on the central Peruvian coast. Read more about the site’s ancient pyramids.

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