At the Ruins of Kotosh, you can go for an educational hike around one of Peru’s oldest archeological sites. Built around 2000 BC, the site today consists of a cluster of low, stone walls. Kotosh’s builders used mud to hold the stones together. You can explore a partial reconstruction of one of the buildings that overlooks the ruins.
Archeologists don’t have many clues as to what purpose these buildings served. Some have made an educated guess that this spot was a religious site, used as a destination for pilgrimages. This theory points to the lack of other ruins in the area, such as homes or agricultural sites. Because of this theory, you will often hear the ruins referred to as the “Temple of Kotosh.”
Locals also commonly refer to the temple as the Temple of the Crossed Hands, or “Manos Cruzados,” after the sculpture of crossed forearms found on the wall of one of the ruins. The original sculpture is displayed at Lima’s National Archeology Museum; the Kotosh site has a reproduction. Some theories suggest that this sculpture symbolized a protective gesture, to keep away enemies or evil spirits. It is one of the oldest sculptures discovered in Peru.