At the Black and White Staircase

Extensively dismantled in post-Chavín times, this staircase is a spectacular example of Chavín engineering and symbolism. The right half of the stairs are made of limestone, which is velvety black when freshly cut. The left half is white granite; this color dualism is clearly intention, and undoubtedly part of Chavín beliefs. Lying on the steps are several examples of stones carved with Chavín designs.

Stills

  1. Symbol over open-air hut:
    Called "The Altar of Choque Chinchay," this 10-ton limestone slab contains seven small circular pits that have been argued to form the pattern of the astronomical cluster called the Pleiades. The "altar" might suggest that this star cluster, which is used in modern times for monitoring agricultural planting and harvesting in the Andes, played a significant role in Chavín times.

  2. Small block on left of staircase:
    Fragment of carving showing cayman-like figure, perhaps representing a deity; connects with larger block on right side of staircase.

  3. Large block on right of staircase:
    Fragment of carving showing cayman-like figure, perhaps representing a deity; connects with smaller block on left side of staircase.