Analysis of the vulnerability and prevention of the risk of harmful events in the Archaeological Zone of Chan Chan. Multidisciplinary study and HBIM methodology

Project: Research

Project Details

Project summary

This project will address problems of conservation and valorization of the citadel of Chan Chan through the constant monitoring of its structures, through the experimentation of BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology and a GIS (Geographic Information System) in some test sites agreed with the PECACH (Chan Chan Archaeological Complex Special Project).


The number of damages to cultural heritage, caused by current urban design errors and/or climatic or geological events, is increasing rapidly every year. This is due in large part to inadequate heritage management and uncontrolled urban growth, but also to unpredictable seismic events and atmospheric turbulence in a continuously deteriorating ecosystem.
The need to preserve monuments, protect them from catastrophic climatic phenomena, adverse landscape configurations and growing environmental pollution is increasingly urgent. In this sense, a great help comes from the use of digital technologies that, if used properly, can help mitigate the natural degradation of materials, as well as facilitate the design process for conservation and restoration actions. For this, it will be necessary to carry out constant monitoring of structures and surfaces, defining a common reference terminology to make it possible to compare the various investigations that are being carried out and facilitate the analysis of problems and future interventions.

This need is particularly relevant in the case of the documentation of mud monuments which, due to the characteristics of the construction material, are subject to a rapid deterioration process that causes the walls to crumble. Continuous monitoring of the degradation process is absolutely essential and can be facilitated by modern information systems.
The archaeological site of the citadel of Chan Chan, which extends along the northern coast of Peru, near the city of Trujillo, presents notable conservation problems, which, given the exceptional size of the settlement and the construction technique used (raw earth and adobe), must be faced in an orderly manner.
Chan Chan was the political, administrative and religious capital of the Chimú culture. This great example of urban organization has been rightly recognized as a period of synthesis of what previous cultures along the coast had produced in previous centuries and as a substantial contribution to the realization of Andean culture, resulting in the consequent inscription of the citadel of Chan Chan on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1986.

Unfortunately, the various degradation phenomena due to environmental and material factors have caused the site to be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (1998). The physical degradation of the Chan Chan monuments is very evident and is mainly due to rain, the presence of salts that emerge on the walls by capillarity, the erosive action of the wind that contributes additional sea salts due to its proximity to the sea and anthropic actions. The El Niño phenomenon, known since the time of the Chimú and which today is influenced by the effects of global warming, has caused and could continue to cause considerable damage to structures, causing erosion and landslides.

On the other hand, the uncontrolled urban growth of the neighboring city of Trujillo and the migratory movements that are still difficult to regulate, cause the formation of a series of informal agglomerations without common services, such as drinking water or garbage collection. This last aspect can cause significant damage to the monuments of Chan Chan, especially in the northern part of the site, where the population solves the problem of collecting waste by depositing it along or even within the intangible area.
To try to curb these problems, in 2000 the Peruvian Government approved the Master Plan for the conservation and management of the Chan Chan Archaeological Complex (Master Plan), prepared by the National Institute of Culture (INC), currently the Ministry of Culture. The Master Plan presents a series of projects and subprojects aimed at enhancing the complex and the territory historically linked to it with the aim of supporting the socioeconomic development of the population. The actions foreseen by the Master Plan, still largely in force, have begun to have a concrete implementation at the site in recent years, when the Chan Chan Archaeological Complex Special Project (PECACH) was initiated. The Special Project, born in 2006 by Supreme Decree of the President of the Republic as Executing Unit 110 under the direction of C. Campana Delgado, is today an agency of the Ministry of Culture under the direction of the La Libertad Decentralized Section. The PECACH has updated the Master Plan by presenting a new ten-year work program, oriented to the study, conservation and valorization of the monument and its context and to the strengthening of the cultural identity of the Peruvian community. In recent years, PECACH has initiated a program of archaeological excavations at the site, concentrating in particular on Huaca Toledo, Palacio Chayuach, and Palacio Gran Chimu. In 2020, a conservation and enhancement program for Huaca Tacaynamo began.
Effective start/end date1/04/2231/03/23

Collaborative partners

  • Lima University (lead)
  • Università Politecnica delle Marche
  • Universidad Nacional de Trujillo
  • Consejo Nacional de Investigación científica de Italia- Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio Cultural (CNR-ISPC)


  • HBIM
  • GIS 3D
  • Chan Chan
  • Vulnerability
  • Risk
  • Damage
  • Cultural heritage

Research areas and lines

  • Cultural heritage
  • Innovation: technologies and products
  • Industries and cultural processes

Kind of research

  • Applied


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