The enigmatic sarcophagi that belong to the Chachapoyas, also known as the Cloud People

The Chachapoyas culture left many sarcophagi in their land in the Amazon region of Peru. The Chachapoyas were the original inhabitants of the cloud forests of northern Peru, located above the river valleys of the Utcubamba and Marañon.

They held out against the Incans until Tupac Yupanqui, an Inca ruler that conquered them in 1480, and thus, the Chachapoyas Kingdom was destroyed.

The enigmatic sarcophagi that belong to the Chachapoyas, also known as the Cloud People

Mausoleum of Revash, Kingdom of Chachapoyas – Image credit: Peru Routes

A chronicler and writer, Garcilaso de la Vega (1539 – 1616), noted that the Chachapoyas territory was so large that “we could easily call it a kingdom because it has more than fifty leagues long per twenty leagues wide, without counting the way up to Muyupampa, thirty leagues long more..”

However, we can still say that our knowledge about the Chachapoyas is very limited due to a lack of historical records that could highlight the cultural traditions of this lost civilization.

The enigmatic sarcophagi that belong to the Chachapoyas, also known as the Cloud People

The ancient fierce warriors, the Chachapoyas, left behind several extraordinary architectural and cultural wonders today just as fascinating as more famous sites like Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Today, the best known is the Chachapopyas’ stone citadel Kuelap, a remote place discovered sixty years before the famous Machu Picchu, with more than four hundred buildings and massive cyclopean stone walls.

The enigmatic sarcophagi that belong to the Chachapoyas, also known as the Cloud People

Sarcophagi belonging to the Chachapoyas

The remains of the jungle fortress of Kuelap are located in Chachapoyas, Amazonas, in northern Peru. The Chachapoyas were a powerful civilization that flourished from about 800 AD until shortly before the Spanish conquest of the New World when the Inca empire conquered them.

The ancient fortress of Kuelap that sits 3,000m above sea level dates back to 600 AD, and the place was abandoned about 500 years ago.

Who were the Chachapoya is not exactly known. Most likely, they were a group of courageous warriors who Inca conquerors gave this name. The name “Chachapoya” is derived from a Quechua phrase meaning “cloud forest.” True to their name, these people made their home among the cloud-covered tropical rainforests of the Amazon, lining the eastern slopes of the Andes mountains.

The only written information about the original Chachapoya culture comes from second or third-hand and still is somewhat surrounded with mystery.