Could Chavín’s Labyrinth be the Remains of the Resounding Palace of Hades and Persephone? [Part 2]

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Archaeological, Geographical, Documentary and Toponymic Evidences by Enrico Mattievich

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To the prominent Italian-born
Peruvian geographer and scientist,
Antonio Raimondi (*1826-+1890)

Who, with his monumental work
El Perú”, was my guide and master.


This article, excerpted from my book “Journey to the Mythological Inferno”, discusses the archaeological evidence of a subterranean system of channels, interconnected to the labyrinth of Chavín, built to produce powerful sounds by hydraulic energy. The echoing resonance in the high mountains is mentioned in Hesiod’s Theogony, which gave rise to the name “Resonant House of Hades and Persephone”. The article identifies the earliest representations of the “Fifty-headed dog of Hades” – Cerberus – found (and misnamed “feathered feline”) in the excavations of the 21 m circular plaza, facing the oldest temple, where the great image of the Gorgon is found. The article relates the vicissitudes of the Raimondi Stele, identified as the only existing representation in the world of the mighty Titan Typhoeus, as described in Hesiod’s Theogony. And, finally, it discusses who were the people associated with the construction of the main temple of Chavín.

Cerberus, The Watchdog Of Hades

Reading the following verses in the Theogony, one notes that the abode of the Gods of the Underworld, which one identifies with the Palace of Chavín, was not a silent place. Strange and powerful sounds echoed through its halls, protected by a guardian of the gates.

767 There, too, stand the echoing halls of Hades,
whose sway is great, and of awesome Persephone.
A hideous and ruthless hound guards the place
skilled in an evil trick: wagging his tail
and wriggling his ears he fawns on those who enter,
but he does not let them out again;
instead, he lies in wait and devours those he catches

774 outside the gates of sovereign Hades and awesome Persephone.

As the plan of the Chavín Palace complex shows (Part 1 Fig. I-2), adjoining the Old Temple (Building B), where the large image of the Gorgon stands, is the main temple (Building A). On its eastern facade lies the Black and White Portal. The large carved lintel spanning the cylindrical columns is comprised of two types of stone. The southern half is white granite, and the northern half - of which only a piece remains - is black limestone. Its name arises from the symmetric distribution of colors.1 The flight of steps leading to the portico was also constructed with two types of stone joined in the middle, in perfect symmetry with the portal. One half, next to the Gorgon’s temple is black limestone, and the other half is white granite. This is the main temple of Chavín. Could it be the temple of the god “Huari”? It displays a notable portico, flanked by two perfectly cylindrical columns of hard granite. Engraved on the surface of these columns are mythological images of two “protective demons.” Yet, despite being the main temple, no great image was found in it.

Could this be the feared House of Hades? Here, the absence of an image would be justified, seeing that in earlier documents Hades did not have a name, per se, but was only referred to as “the Unseen,”(‘ΑFιδης),later known as Hades (“Aιδης)by phonetic changes.2 In that case, the temple of Persephone would be the Old Temple in which the large image of the Gorgon stands. This identification of Persephone with the Gorgon Medusa should not surprise anyone reasonably familiar with Greek mythology, since the name is related to Perseus, her killer: Persephone (Περσε−φονη) is the composite name of Perseus (Περσευς) and phone (φονη) - act or action of killing - and means “The one who was killed by Perseus.”3,4

Fig 1 Fig 2
Click image for larger version. Fig. II – 1. Greek representation of Cerberus Click image for larger version. Fig. II – 2. Apollo, Athena, Heracles, Hermes and Cerberus on a Tyrrhenian amphora. Notice the serpent’s head at the tip of Cerberus’ tail.

The resounding palace of powerful Hades was protected by a cunning animal, the dreadful hound that protected his gates. Greek mythology makes reference to a wide gate offering access to the “subterranean abode,” its threshold protected by a terrible monster, the dog Cerberus. Hesiod quotes the monster in verses 311-312 of the Theogony:

Cerberus, the fifty-headed dog of Hades, that mighty
and shameless eater of raw flesh, whose bark resounds like bronze.

The number of heads attributed to the watchdog of the Palace of Hades varies according to the author, sometimes having one, sometimes having fifty. Also, its Mediterranean representations are not uniform. At times it is a common dog, at others it has leonine paws, or appears distinctly with serpents around its body (Figs. II 1-3). What was the appearance of that infernal creature where it actually guarded the entrance?

On the rear cornice of Chavin Palace are two engraved figures, which were incorrectly named “feathered felines” by some specialists. It is certainly not easy to classify mythological fauna, yet one needs considerable imagination to term clearly engraved serpents’ heads as feathers, as in Fig. II-4. Rather than “feathered felines,” one can call them mythological draconic images surrounded by serpents’ heads. Today, as in ancient times, it is difficult to determine the number of heads in that figure. Besides the principal head, there is another one at the tip of the tail, and two others sprouting from the jaw. One of these figures is surrounded by 9 serpents’ heads, while the other has 11.

A Greek vase of the 5th century B.C. (Fig. II-3), shows Cerberus surrounded by serpents’ heads, analogously distributed and alike, but lacking the superior style of the figures engraved on the steles of Chavín. The representation, which is found on a Tyrrhenian amphora (Fig. II-2), shows the head of a serpent at the tip of the tail of the two-headed Cerberus, comparable to the figures of the Chavín cornice. Obviously, a cornice could not be confused with a threshold. Meanwhile, starting in 1,972, similar figures were discovered on the steles surrounding a circular plaza measuring 21 m in diameter, set in front of the Old Temple, forming the threshold of the central staircase that leads to the image of the Gorgon represented on the Lanzón (Illus..II - 1 and Illus.II – 2 Top). Could the Chavin Palace threshold be related to the threshold of the Palace of Night mentioned by Hesiod?

Figs 3, 4

Click image for larger version.
Fig. II – 3. (Top) Drawing from a Greek vase showing Cerberus surrounded by serpents, similar to the images carved on the Chavín steles.

Click image for larger version.
Fig. II –4. (Bottom) Cornice of the rear corner of Chavín Palace (see Illus. I – 4, Part 1) with Cerberous-like images.

Finally, comparing the steles of the aforementioned plaza to those of the first circle of tombs in Mycenae (Illus. II-2 Bottom), dating circa 1,500 B.C., one notes similarities in technique, the framing of the designs and the spiral motifs that decorate the central figures. Therefore, besides the Perseus myth, involving Mycenae and the Gorgon, Chavín also appears to relate to Mycenae in technique and iconographic art.

The House Of Life And Death

In Greek mythology there are many fantastic commentaries about the dog of Hades, but not all should be attributed to the unrestrained imagination of Greek poets, such as the origin of the medicinal plant aconite, which emerges from the bile in Cerberus’ vomit.5 The incredible art at Chavín is lavish and fantastic, such as the engraved design on a stone mortar fragment (Fig. II-5), found on the Chavín’s site by Bennett,6 and which was probably used for grinding medicinal plants. The fragment bears the design of a mythological animal vomiting an unknown plant. The use of mortars appears to have been common in Chavín. Tello dedicates five pages of his book to describing the various types of mortars found in the Chavín area and nearby sites. Some were unearthed intact, such as a massive diorite piece, 37 cm in length and 18.5 cm in height, sculpted in the shape of a mythological bird, the upper part hollowed out to form a rounded mortar, 16.5 cm in diameter. Another piece found at Chavín, and which is presently at the University Museum, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Fig. II-6), represents a stone “feline,” 33 cm in length and 16.5 cm in height, resting on four legs. The “feline” is analogous to the aforementioned Cerberus-like monsters, engraved on the Gorgon temple threshold, at Chavín. These objects, as well as other fragments used for the same purpose, were called “ceremonial mortars” by Tello.7 But for what ceremonies? Perhaps dedicated exclusively to a cult? Or for the preparation of offerings to the gods or to be consumed during festivities or burial ceremonies? To clarify this intriguing question one must consult Greek mythology again.

The most famous point for the preparation of drugs was the oracle of Dodona, of great antiquity, located in Epirus (some 20 km southwest of Ioannina). In this part of Greece the inhabitants conserve the glorious geographical deeds of the past, in the form of mythogeography, calling their own river Acheron, the largest river of Hades. Homer relates in the Odyssey (I, 260) that Odysseus had sailed to Epirus in search of φαρμαχονανδροφονον (fatal poison), the poison used on arrow tips.

Another Greek myth, which seems to have elements similar to the oracle of Chavin, deals with the god of Medicine, Asclepius, son of the god of oracles, Apollo, and Coronis, daughter of Phlegyas. The symbol of Asclepius, as well as the caduceus of Hermes, are similar to the one crowning the Raimondi Stele, one of the principal steles unearthed at Chavin. It is said that Asclepius discovered the miraculous virtues of certain herbs on account of a serpent he injured, and which was cured by another one that carried a plant of miraculous properties in its gullet. Convinced that everything has a cause, including illness, he worked to discover what was noxious to human health and what was able to reanimate mankind. He was worshipped in forests, medicinal springs and on high mountain tops. The temple of Asclepius, in Athens, had a hot spring. The god appeared in the dreams of the sick and gave them remedies for their illnesses.

Click image for larger version.
Fig. II – 5. (Top) Mortar fragment found in Chavín with engraved figures. The outer surface (A) represents an animal vomiting a medicinal plant.

Click image for larger version.
Fig. II – 6 (Bottom) Cerberous-like stone mortar found at Chavín.

Besides being an oracle, as stated in Peruvian traditions, Chavín was, above all, a place of worship to a powerful divinity, of which we know nothing, except its anthropomorphic representation on the diorite pillar, located in the center of the labyrinth, and to which, indubitably, human sacrifices were offered. Its temple was the house of death. However, other buildings of Chavín Palace were used to recover one’s health, not only through the words of the oracle, but also by way of medicinal herbs, prepared and ground in stone mortars. The buildings - most probably used to treat the health of pilgrims visiting Chavín - must have been on the south side. One kilometer from this point, to the right of the modern road following the Mosna River, is a hot spring, which waters could easily have been piped to the temple. This spring, according to Raimondi, emits sulphurous waters at a temperature of 45 °C.8 Here, again, we find the dual symmetry, so common in the architectural elements of Chavín: the Black and White Portal and the black and white flight of steps in front of it - which had to symbolize life and death. To the left of the black steps, on the side of the Old Temple where the Gorgon stands, was the house of death; to the right of the white steps, where medicinal water flows, was the house of life.

This dual symmetry, so conspicuous in Chavín, is clearly evident in a myth of Apollodorus, which tells how the goddess Athena granted the gift of life and death to Asclepius, giving him the blood from the Gorgon’s veins: from the left side, to kill mankind, and from the right side, to save it.9

The Image of Typhon on the Raimondi Stele

The most surprising mythological image unearthed at Chavín was not, as one would expect, the result of a systematic excavation. One day, in 1840, while cultivating his land, a simple farmer, Timoteo Espinosa, found a large, well-cut and polished rectangular stone slab, on which was a carved image of a fearful god surrounded by many serpents. He took it home to use as a table.10

Twenty years later, Raimondi discovered the stele in the courtyard of Espinosa’s house, and through his persistence the government decided to bring it to Lima. Finally, in 1874, it was transported by the sergeant major José Manuel Marticorena, with great effort and using nearly two quintals (200 kg) of explosives, in one hundred detonations, to remove the rocks blocking the narrow paths in the Andes, between Chavín and Casma.

It appeared that the days of glory had returned to the god of serpents, but before returning to its pedestal and becoming an object of admiration, it had to undergo further tribulations. In Lima, it was placed over bricks in a rustic, black wooden frame, exposed to the elements, in the courtyard of the Exhibition Palace. The people called it “the Inca Stone.” The more curious visitors admired the great number of serpents which the complicated design bore; yet, according to José Toríbio Polo, no one gave it the least artistic or historical importance.11 As if forty years of selfless work by Raimondi to Peru were in vain, two years after his death, in 1892, the stele was found completely abandoned near a weir, beside the Exhibition Palace, used as a plaything by children. Toríbio Polo’s complaints were a patriotic gesture to save the stele which otherwise would be sold to a foreign museum for a few thousand pounds sterling. After it was moved twice, from one museum to another, the irreparable happened. During a strong earthquake in Lima, on May 24, 1940, the stele fell down the steps of the Archaeology Museum, breaking into various pieces.12

The stele, having survived three millennia; escaping undamaged from the hands of the peasants, who cooked and ate on it and which safely crossed the Cordillera of the Andes, was now broken into pieces in the hands of those responsible for its safety.

The “Raimondi Stele,” as it is called in recognition of its discoverer, was restored and put on display in the National Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Lima. The 17-cm thick stoneparallelepiped measures 1.95 m high, 76 cm wide at the bottom, and 73 cm at the top.13 However, neither the rock’s dimensions nor type are important; rather, it is the elaborate carving on one of its surfaces. The high-relief design, engraved by the champleve technique, 5 mm deep, reveals a masterpiece of rare artistic conception, and executed with perfect symmetry by a steady and sure hand. Its discoverer thought highly of it from the moment he examined it, stating:14This stone is highly esteemed, for the intricate design, for the fine work and for the remarkable symmetry of such a difficult design, that a finer artist could not have done more perfectly.” And continuing: “This stone, which is presently found in a house in the village of Chavín, is perfectly flat and polished. The design represents a human-like figure, which has in both hands a type of scepter, formed by a bundle of serpents, and a large ornament above the head, composed of numerous serpents and large mouths with sharp fangs, similar to those on the image of the Lanzón. It seems that the individual who worked on it wanted to represent the Evil Power.” In his notebooks, unpublished until 1943, Raimondi wrote: “The top of the ornament ends in two twisted serpents, like the design on Mercury’s caduceus.15

All those who afterwards delved into Chavín’s archaeology, at least once, tried to describe or interpret the engraved image on the stele. Some, like Tello’s, were so detailed that the whole perspective was lost.16 When reading scholars’ interpretations, rather than being enlightened, an air of doubt and gloom arises, with little hope of ever understanding its significance. Did José Toribio Polo correctly identify the image as the mythological god “Kon”? Is he correct in assuming that the large heads with menacing mouths are those of the American bison?17 Or, as Markham states,18 is it the same entity that is represented on the monolithic “Gate of the Sun” doorway in Tiahuanaco (near Lake Titicaca, Bolivia)? Is it a celestial god, carrying the sun’s rays and lightning bolts in its hands, as suggested by Joyce?19 Or is it a new mythological entity described by Uhle20 as a “scolopendrid-tiger” (centipede-tiger), the monster that devours the sun and the moon during an eclipse? Could it be a “bird-man,” “tiger-like” or perhaps a “feathered-feline,” as proffered by Kauffmann Doig?21 Looking at these interpretations and a dozen others which space does not allow one to include, one could say that the Raimondi Stele acts like a magical mirror, reflecting what is in each person’s thoughts.

Since the turn of the century, Americanists have been consumed by the wish to decipher this Peruvian Sphinx. Who could discover its meaning merely by analyzing the elements represented in the image? One must acknowledge the impossibility of finding a satisfactory answer by this method. There are innumerable examples of fruitless attempts to interpret myths and legends based solely on the elements contained therein.

Without trying to interpret the meaning of the image, one’s immediate aim must simply be to verify if it is described in Greek mythology. One must analyze quantitatively the engraved elements on the top half of the monstrous creature on the Raimondi Stele (Fig. II-7): above the shoulders, one can count fifty serpents’ heads and a hundred forms resembling tongues or feathers, which can also be interpreted as arms or legs. Uhle, for example, called them scolopendrid’s legs (centipede’s legs). Better than legs, they could be arms, since they are located above the shoulders.

Imitating the archaic style of the Theogony, the god represented on the stele can be described as follows: The legs and arms of that full-grown tridactyl were adapted for work requiring strength. With its tireless legs it carries over its shoulders several frightening dragons’ heads with darting tongues, which eyes seem to glance menacingly. Fifty serpents’ heads and a hundred menacing arms project themselves above its shoulders. It has an air of vigorous and invincible strength. The artist who carved this “son of the earth and sky,” wanted to personify destructive forces, represented by fifty serpents’ heads and a hundred arms, as well as the powerful weapons held in his hands.

Click image for larger version. Fig. II – 7. Design of the Raimondi Stele.

The drawing on the right (showing only half of the symmetrical elements) allows one to count 50 snake heads and 100 “arms” above the shoulders.These elements, together with the monstrous heads with darting tongues, allow one to identify it with Typhon.

Unlike the Gorgon and Cerberus, both of which are found represented in America as well as in the Mediterranean region, the elaborate image on the Raimondi Stele was exclusively and solely found in Peru. Once again, oracle-like, one finds the answer in Hesiod’s Theogony, 147-153:

147 Gaia and Ouranos had three other sons, so great
and mighty that their names are best left unspoken,
Kottos, Briareos, and Gyes, brazen sons all three.

150 From each one’s shoulders a hundred invincible arms
sprang forth, and from each one’s shoulders atop the sturdy trunk
there grew no fewer than fifty heads;

153 and there was matchless strength in their hulking frames.

The poet, facing the stele, could not have described it better: “A hundred invincible arms bursting out of its shoulders and from each one’s shoulders atop the sturdy trunk there grew no fewer than fifty heads.” No one was able to describe it as accurately as Hesiod’s verses, depicting these Titans or giants, called Εκατογχειρες (Hecatoncheires), “which have a hundred arms.” The coincidence with the god on the stele is quantitative as well.

This image with a hundred fists seems to conceal the key to many other enigmas. What phenomenon arose between the earth and the sky which impressed men so vehemently as to have them create a god so powerful? Chavín Palace was erected to these gods and its fame reached beyond all borders. The Nahoas or Nahuatlacas, an ancient and cultured people who lived in Mexico prior to the Spanish conquest, had also preserved the tradition of a homonymous god, whom they called “Ehecatonatuih,” meaning the “Sun’s Wind,” the fourth and final one, who caused great destruction to mankind.22

Hesiod mentions a trinity of giants. What does it mean? Is it simply a mytho-iconographic description? In light of the present comparison, where we find an ancient Greek description of a deity coinciding with the image on the Raimondi Stele, we might be lead to interpret these Hecatoncheires as a myth describing three images at Chavín Palace. However, this hypothesis is not completely satisfactory, since the Hesiodic myth splits into a fourth, similar entity, Typhon or Typhoeus, the apocalyptic god, characterized by infernal “theophonia”23 (Theogony, 820-835):

820 When Zeus drove the Titans out of the sky
giant Gaia bore her youngest child, Typhoeus;
goaded by Aphrodite, she lay in love with Tartarus.
The arms of Typhoeus were made for deeds of might,
his legs never wearied, and on his shoulders were

825 a hundred snake heads, such as fierce dragons have,
and from them licking black tongues darted forth.
And the eyes on all the monstrous heads flashed
from under the brows and cast glances of burning fire;
from all the ghastly heads voices were heard,

830 weird voices of all kinds. Sometimes they uttered words
that the gods understood, and then again
they bellowed like bulls, proud and fierce
beyond restraint, or they roared like brazen-hearted lions
or - wondrous to hear - their voices sounded like a whelp’s bark,

835or a strident hiss that echoed through the lofty mountains.

Now, with Hesiod’s help, one can appreciate the monstrous heads which the Gorgonian deity carries upon its shoulders, the enormous dragons’ mouths, darting triangular tongues that seem to utter incomprehensible sounds that remain crystallized in stone. The Hesiodic description portrays Typhon as similar to the hundred-armed deity found on the Raimondi Stele.

The Resounding Palace of the Subterranean Gods

I needed to return to the archaeological site of Chavín to confirm a hypothesis which, at first glance, seemed absurd, but which could be factual due to the persistent association of sounds attributed to the Gorgonian entities identified in Chavín’s iconography. That hypothesis induced me to question the fundamental concepts of Peru’s archaeology and proto-history. It began after my first visit in 1981, when I realized that the labyrinthine structure of Chavín Palace could have been constructed for acoustic purposes, so as to simulate the sound of the gods. These sounds (which shall be called “theophonia” from the Greek theo = god or the gods, and phonia = sound), along with the frightening appearance of the gods represented in Chavín Palace, must have caused a terrifying effect. How were powerful sounds produced within that huge structure? Who was the inventor of the formidable 150,000-m3 stone organ? An acoustic instrument weighing more than 200,000 tons, the largest ever built on earth!

To unravel that burning question I returned to Chavín in January 1,983, to search for any signs of sound-generating structures that could have produced and amplified them within the galleries of the palace. With the help of the custodian of the archaeological site, Gregorio Perea Martinez, I was able to verify that, in fact, the audio-visual setting of the ancient palace, where the personifications of the Gorgon, Typhon, and Cerberus were identified, must have been extremely sophisticated. The worshippers of the Underworld were impressed not only by frightful images, but also by terrifying acoustic effects, that could have been produced inside the palace. Perea showed me the underground galleries, which were constructed to handle a considerable flow of water. I was able to walk inside the central duct, located below the main plaza. Its nearly 2- m2 section could have handled the water from several of the palace’s galleries, channeling it to the Mosna River. Today, the rear outline of the channel entrance, which carried the captured waters of the Wacheksa Stream, is unknown. The frequent landslides, and the construction of a road behind the palace ruins, destroyed all evidence of the channels. Fortunately, along the front of the temples, on the eastern side of the palace, one can still find some ducts, vertically orientated or sharply inclined, as shown in Fig. II-8. These ducts, which shall be termed “excitators,” as can be deduced from a simple analysis of its internal structure, could have been excited by a stream of water, yielding thunderous sounds, similar to conventional organ tubes when excited by a stream of air (Fig. II-9).

Two of these “excitators,” Illus. II – 3 and Illus. II - 4, are found in front of the main temple, and their water intakes can be seen by lifting a stone slab. On top is a lateral canalization, where the water entered, before falling into the vertical duct. The ducts are rectangular, and are formed by properly laid stone slabs. An important detail allows them to be characterized as acoustic “excitators”: on the lateral canalization, through which the stream of water entered, there is an overhanging stone slab (on the upper part of the vertical duct), forming a type of tongue, which forced the stream of water to form an arc, as shown in Fig. II-9 by points B and F. The isolated air in chamber C began to oscillate and the labyrinthine galleries of the palace, in communication with the “excitator” through the acoustic duct D, started to resonate, producing and reinforcing sound.

Click image for larger version. Fig. II – 8.Longitudinal section of the channel located below the flight of steps in front of the oldest temple, where the “Lanzón” lies. The cross-section shows the acoustic duct, beneath the “tongue”, which probably connected this “excitatory” to the labyrinth.

Drawing after: “Informe de Labores del Proyecto Chavín” by Luis G. Lumbreras, Arqueologicas N° 15. Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Museo Nacional de Antropología y Arqueología. Instituto Nacional de Cultura. Lima, 1974.

Just as the custodian of the site had informed me, other archaeologists had also reached the same conclusion; some even attempting to produce acoustic oscillations by emptying a barrel of water down the vertical duct. But, understandably, due to the small quantity of water and the inappropriate means to excite it, they were unable to produce any sound at all.

It is highly probable that the fearsome, roaring animal-like sounds, described in the aforementioned verses (820-835), were related to those produced in Chavin Palace, imitating the “theophonia” of Typhon, the strident Gorgons, and the powerful bronze voice of Cerberus. Though the timid efforts of the archaeologists were unable to prove anything, this does not mean that more than 3,000 years ago the builders of the palace, who appear to have been far more capable than the excavators, were able to achieve hydroacoustic sounds, for which all evidence indicates is the reason for the construction of the labyrinth at Chavin Palace.

Click image for larger version. Fig. II – 9. Right drawing shows the longitudinal section of a hypothetical subterranean acoustic “excitator”, stimulated by hydraulic energy.

A.Water intake; B. Overhanging stone slab, forming a ‘tongue’; C. Well where the air oscillate, stimulated by falling water; D. Acoustic duct connecting chamber C with the labyrinth E; F. Flow of water. Left drawing shows the longitudinal section of an organ pipe, stimulated by compressed air.

Click image for larger version. (a)
Click image for larger version. (b)
Illus. II – 1. Chavin’s steles with Cerberus-like figures, located on the threshold of the Circular Plaza of 21 m, in front of the Old Temple of the Gorgon. These steles were carved in identical pairs, and it is likely that were originally seven pairs on each side of the staircase.
Graphic Click image for larger version.
Illus. II– 2. (Top) Chavin’s stele. (Bottom) Mycenae stele. Both with spirals and sigmoids.
Illus. II – 3. Top view of an acoustic excitator with the flagstone removed, located in front of the main palace of Chavín. The arrow indicates the direction of the water flow.

Illus. II – 4. A second acoustic excitator, in front of the main palace of Chavín.

Discussion And Conclusions

The oldest literary reference associates the Gorgons with the house of Argos and Pallas Athena. Homer, describing the aegis of Athena (Iliad, V, 741 and 742), says: “therein is the head of the dread monster, the Gorgon, dread and awful, a portent of Zeus that beareth the aegis” And further on (Iliad, XI, 32-37), describing the armor of Agamemnon, the greatest Greek hero who fought at Troy, quotes again the horrible Gorgon, with its frightful gaze.

One notes in ancient traditions, reported by Homer, that there was no motive to fear the Gorgon, only her head. Narrating the wandering of Odysseus through the Underworld, Homer points out, at the end of the eleventh book of the Odyssey, the great fear that the Gorgon’s head caused. Odysseus, fearing that Persephone, the goddess of the Underworld, will send the frightful head against him, abandons the House of Hades and sets out to navigate the deep ocean currents.

The productions of sonorous chords are constant in the myths of the Gorgon. Pindar (Pythian, XII, 30) relates that the music was invented by Pallas Athena, on the occasion of the Gorgon’s death. Athena invents the flute, composed of canes and thin sheets of bronze, inspired by a sinister melody produced by the groaning of the Gorgon and the hissing of serpents. Beyond the constant association of Medusa with the emission of sound, another important observation is that beneath some shrines, where Medusa was represented in stone, ran a stream of water. When describing the monuments of Argos, Pausanias relates that beneath the sanctuary of Cephisus one could hear the flowing of a river. He says that here one finds the head of Medusa sculpted in stone, which local traditions indicate as another work done by the Cyclops (Pausanias, Book II, xx, 6 and 7).

At this point it is appropriate to remember the remarks of Professor Marinatos: “Wherever later myth told of the Heroic Period, the accuracy of the tradition has been proved by excavation”.24

The following discussion of evidences about the origin and meaning of Chavín --still unpublished-- is launched here in advance of the second part of my book, in preparation.

On the standing stones as: Raimondi stele, Tello obelisk, and many others, as well as on the sacred pillar of Lanzón, the apocalyptic gods were “enchained”. The Palace of Chavín, in its time, was the most important oracle and religious center, not only in the Andean region, but in all South America. Chavín was comparable to Delphi and possibly was founded as a copy of it. Obviously, all these sacred stones received blood sacrifices, as the blood of sacrifices offered to massebáh (standing stones in Semitic shrines and temples) and bethels (sacred pillars) by Canaanites.

The Lanzón, with the chained image of Gorgon on it, was the principal deity of the “Old Temple”, but, the much larger “New Temple”, with the Black and White portal and two cylindrical columns of granite, identified as the Palace of Hades, probably gave the name – Chavín – to the entire palace. Which is most surprising, its name is not of Greek origin. As we shall see, the toponymy of places near Chavín, with remains of old monuments, as well as the same name Chavín, indicate a Semitic or Canaanite origin.

The “New temple” was probably constructed to maintain “chained” the most feared new god -- without any representation -- the almighty Baal-Shamem, which means “Lord of Heavens”, also spelled Shamen, Shamim or Shamin. The Quechua words are without the letters b, c, d, g, v, x and z. so, Baal could not be spelled in Quechua, and was lost.

The title “Lord of Heavens” used for the various supreme gods in Syro-Palestine, Anatolia and Mesopotamia during the second millennium B.C. later became the name of a specific deity venerated throughout the Semitic world from the first millennium B.C. until the first four centuries of the Christian era. St. Augustin refers to him as Dominus Coeli. The earliest Phoenician attestation of Baal-Shamem comes from Building inscription from the 10th century B.C. of King Yehimilk in Byblos. Here Baal-Shamem is named before the ‘Lady of Byblos’ and ‘the assembly of the gods of Byblos’. He represents the summit of the local pantheon. This is also true for the Karatepe inscription dating for the last decades of the 8th century B.C., where he heads a sequence of gods, being named before ‘El, Creator of the Earth’. In the Luwian version of this bilingual inscription, the ‘Weather-god of Haven’ corresponds to Baal-Shamem. Later, in the Hellenistic period, a temple at Umm el-Amed is dedicated to Baal-Shamem. In Greek inscriptions from this region he is called Zeus hypsistos, ‘Highest Zeus’, Zeus megistos keraunios, ‘Magnificent lightning Zeus’ or Theos hagios ouranios, ‘Holy (Lord) of the heavens and the earth’. At Hatra, in North Mesopotamia, Baal-Shamem (various spellings b’lsmyn, b’smyn and b’smn) had his own sanctuary.25

In Palmyra, Baal-Shamin is one of the prominent gods with Bel, and both on the Greek inscriptions of Palmyra has the name of Zeus.26

At short distance of the village of Huantar, on the left bank of the Puccha or Mosna River, which passes in front of Chavín, there are remains of a monument of Chavín style, named Onga. Onga or Onka, which is the Phoenician name of Athena, is related to Cadmus. When Cadmus was leaving Delphi, told by the oracle to follow the route of the Sun, he discovers an immense serpent, against which he wages a victorious battle. He sows its teeth, from which emerge armed warriors, who fight each other to the death. With the five remaining survivors, he founds a town as ordered by the oracle, where he established a cult of Athena Onga See the geographic interpretation of Cadmus myth in my book “Journey to the Mythological Inferno”, Chapter IV.

On the Pacific coast, approximately at the same latitude of Chavín, on an elevation between two rivers, and a hundred meters above sea level, in 1937, Julio C. Tello discovered the archaeological site of Sechín, homonymous to one of the river that flanks it.

The terraced platform of Sechín was adorned on its outer wall with approximately 400 engraved granite stones. The wall portrays a war scene in which two columns of warriors approach each other from opposing sides amidst the carnage of their adversaries. The engraved stones represent severed human bodies writhing in agony; triumphant warriors are adorned with severed heads, bleeding heads of defeated soldiers and a stone with a large pile of decapitated heads. The stone frieze at Sechín is one of the oldest dated Andean stone carving known at the present time, dating in the middle of the second millennium B.C.27 Richard L. Burger, without the slightest intention of suggesting a Semitic influence on Sechín, compares the bloody scene with the biblical Joshua’ conquest of Jericho.

In Chapter IV of my book two carved monoliths of Sechín are shown. I suggest that Figure IV-5 shows a nautical quadrant engraved on the stone, and Figure IV-6 shows a Phoenician-like vessel. I believe that the toponymy of Sechín could be Semitic, homonymous to the Canaanite town of Sechem, also spelled Sichem.

Fig. II – 10. Samarian stone masonry, with the wall inclination and vertical periodicity of stone-slabs: (one thick-two thin) as the Chavín’s walls of the “New Temple”. See Illus. I – 4 (Part 1). After: A.G. Barrois, O.P. “Manuel D’Archéologie Biblique” Tome I, p. 115, Paris, 1938.
Fig. II – 11.Fragment of stele found in Chavín. Showing part of an engraved Babylonian? or Assyrian? style god. Under his feet it is possible to distinguish several Greek letters of an inscription. Dimensions: 1.25 m wide and 0.74 m height. After: “Chavín” J.C. Tello, p. 226.

An attentive observer could also find Greek toponyms nearby Chavín: as the district of Gorgor, at Cajatambo province,28 Northeast of Lima, and the village of Gorgorillo (Spanish diminutive of Gorgor).29 These toponyms are related to the Greek name of the Gorgon (Γοργϖ).

In the second millennium B.C.; Canaan, Crete, and what is now Greek territory, formed a single cultural entity. Herodotus (II-44; IV-147ff.; VI-47; etc…) knew about the early Phoenician contact with them (Greeks).30 It is worthy noting that their combined presence (Phoenician and Greeks) is also confirmed in ancient Perú.

About the author
Enrico Mattievich

Enrico Mattievich was born in 1938, in the Italian city of Fiume, now Rijeka (after World War II) and part of Croatia. In 1949, with his parents, he immigrated to Peru. He studied Physics and Mathematics at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima, where he later began teaching experimental physics. He also taught at the Universidad Cayetano Heredia. In 1962 - 63, he worked as an assistant to Dr. Mutsumi Ishitsuka, astronomer at the Department of Solar Activity at the Geophysics Observatory in Huancayo. In 1969 he undertook postgraduate studies at the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Fisicas, in Rio de Janeiro. on a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and received his Ph. D. degree in Physics in 1974. He continued his academic career at the Department of Physics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, completing several studies in physics applied to mineralogy, paleontology and archaeology.

Since 1981, after visiting the archaeological site of Chavin de Huantar, and moved by the strange art and advanced architecture of that Peruvian culture, he has dedicated himself to the study of comparative archaeology and mythology.

In 2000, he was invited, by the School of Physics and Material Engineering at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia, to conduct research on a hundred-year-old geologic enigma, the 'Zebra Rock'. Dr. Mattievich was able to demonstrate that the strange paterns of Zebra Rock (a silt stone) was formed from a liquid crystal phase coloidal solution, deposited under glacial conditions, at the bottom of the sea, in the Upper Proterozoic era, more than 600 million years ago.

Notes And Bibliographic References [Part 2]

  1. Rowe, J. H., El Arte de Chavin; Estudio de su Forma y su significado, p. 9, Monograph edited by INC., Ancash, 1987.
  2. Rose, H. J., A Handbook of Greek Mythology, p. 78, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, 1958.
  3. Jung, C.G. and Kerenyi C., Essays on a Science of Mythology, p. 127, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1973.
  4. Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Ulrich Von. Der Glaube derHellenen, I, pp.108f. Berlin, 1931
  5. Rose, H.J., Ibid., p. 216, note 138, Quoting Herodoros.
  6. Tello, J.C., Chavin, p. 300.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Raimondi, Antonio, El Peru (Mineralogical and Geological Studies) Vol. IV, p. 280, Libreria e Imprenta Gil, Lima, 1902.
  9. Apollodorus, Book 3, X, 3.
  10. Toribio, P. J., La Piedra de Chavin - Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Lima, p. 195,Year IX - Volume IX, second quarter, Lima, 1899.
  11. Toribio, P. J., Ibid., third quarter, p. 274.
  12. Tello, J. C., Chavin, p. 188.
  13. Toribio, P. J., Ibid., p. 279.
  14. Raimondi, A., El Departamento de Ancash y sus Riquezas Minerales, p. 215, Publisher. El Nacional, Lima, 1873.
  15. Raimondi, A., Notas de Viajes para sua obra El Peru. Second volume, p. 144; Imprenta, Torres Aguirre, Lima, 1943.
  16. Tello, J. C., Chavin, p. 190.
  17. Toribio, P. J., Ibid., p. 264.
  18. Cited by Tello, J.C., Chavin. p. 190.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Kauffmann, D. F., Manual de Arqueologia, p. 210, Lima, 1973.
  22. Barberena, S. J., Historia de el Salvador, Vol. 1, p. 232, El Salvador, 1966.
  23. Not to be confused with theophany, a manifestation or appearance of God or of a god to man. We denote theophonia as the imitation of the presence of the gods by means of the emission of sounds (from the Greek theo = god or the gods or deity, and phonia = sound).
  24. Spyridon Marinatos, “Crete and Mycenae”, p.92, Harry N. Abrams, INC, New York.
  25. “Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible” Edited by Karel Van der Tooren, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. Van der Horst, p. 149, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, (1999).
  26. Antiquités Syriennes – Premieère Série – Extrait de Syria 1931-1932-1933, p. 87, Librerie Orientaliste, Paul Geuthner, Paris, 1934.
  27. Richard L. Burger, “Chavín, and the Origins of Andean Civilization”, p. 79, Thames and Hudson, 1995.
  28. Antonio Raimondi “El Departamento de Ancash y sus Riquezas Minerales”, p.247, Lima , Perú, 1873.
  29. Ibid. P.246.
  30. Cyrus H. Gordon “Before the Bible” – The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilization- p.216, Plainview, New York, 1973.


I wish tothank Dr. Ney Vernon Vugman for kindly helping with the edition of this paper. I also acknowledge my brother Silvio Mattievich for revising the text.

Correspondence address:

Dr. Enrico Mattievich
Rua Dr. Henrique Castrioto, 256
Castelanea – Petrópolis, RJ
CEP: 25645-010
E-mail: Enrico.mattievich[at]

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