A Guide To Revash

Revash, near the village of San Bartolo, 60 km (37 miles) south of the city of Chachapoyas, is a late Chachapoya funerary complex with chullpas (mausoleums) built high into limestone cliffs, at an altitude of 2,800 m (9,182 ft) above sea level.

Constructed of rock and adobe, plastered and painted pink and cream, they look like little houses, but are in fact, tombs. Most were ransacked long ago; a few yielded some bones and funerary offerings for archaeologists to examine.  

From these bones, it was possible to deduce that Revash's mausoleums were not used individually: it is thought that they were collective residences, destined to bury the prestigious and powerful.

While there are many funerary sites, such as Karajia and La Laguna de los Condores, to be found in the Amazonas region, the ones at Revash differ in that they take the form of miniature villages, located in a straight line in a cavity excavated in the rocky wall of the imposing canyon. 

The walls of the chullpas are made of stones placed on mud mortar. Each has a rectangular floor and one or two floors. Instead of a front door, they have side doors. The cliff-side forms the back wall. 

The sloping roofs are purely symbolic. They were protected by the cave, so the roofs did not have to withstand rain or sun.

Revash's chullpas have mouldings around the tops of the walls, which are painted with figures, such as felines, South American camelids, people, and circles. 

The walls of the chullpas also have symbolic incisions in the walls themselves, in the shape of a T, crosses and rectangles. These are similar in form to those used on the coast architecture of Virú, but the meaning of the symbols is still unknown. 

Revash does not indicate Inca cultural influences, but it appeared relatively late in Peruvian archaeological history: some archaeologists estimate that it dates from the 14th Century. However, much research remains to be done, in order to understand the people who constructed these mysterious mausoleums fully. 

How to visit: The access point to Revash is the small town of Yerbabuena, in the Utcubamba Valley, on the road between Chachapoyas and Leymebamba, and famous for its Sunday market. From here it is a two to three-hour climb to the ruins along signed footpaths.

If this is too strenuous, a vehicle can drive you as far as the village of San Bartolo, from where there is a 1.5 km (0.9 mile) long stone-paved path, which takes 40 minutes to walk up. The final ten minutes is along a dirt path. 

Either way, it is well worth the effort, and so is included in a number of Peru North itineraries, with a guide to assist.