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UN adds ancient observatory in Peru to heritage list

Lima, Jul 27 (EFE).- The Chankillo complex north of the Peruvian capital, Latin America’s oldest known solar observatory, was approved Tuesday for inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of World Heritage Sites.

The structure “shows the vigorous and absolutely creative and innovative action of the ancient Peruvians in the use of the forces of nature,” Jose Hayakawa, chair of the Peru branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, told Efe.

“This enormous news has to be seen as an opportunity to enable completion of the processes of research and conservation,” he said, adding that the site can spur development of Peru’s central Pacific coast.

Chankillo, erected more than 2,300 years ago, sits atop a hill on the left bank of the Casma River in the Ancash region, about 365 km north (227 mi) north of Lima.

Thirteen equidistant stone towers correspondent to the positions of the sun during the course of the year and were arrayed to allow the society that built Chankillo to determine the exact days of the solstices and equinoxes for both agricultural and ritual purposes.

West of the towers is the largest structure of the complex, which combines the features of a temple and a fortress.

“A great gift for our bicentennial,” Peruvian Culture Minister Alejandro Neyra wrote on Twitter after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee added Chankillo to its list of sites.

The designation came a day before Peru will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its declaration of independence.

Neyra, in his comments during the committee’s virtual session, said that UNESCO’s acceptance of Chankillo ratifies Peru’s commitment to “the protection and sustainable management” of its natural and cultural heritage.

With the addition of Chankillo, Peru is home to 13 World Heritage Sites, including the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. EFE csr/dr

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