Ancient cranial surgery: bioarchaeologist studies trepanation PhysOrg - December 20, 2013
Some 900 years ago, a Peruvian healer used a hand drill to make dozens of small holes in a patient's skull. Cranial surgery is tricky business, even under 21st-century conditions (think aseptic environment, specialized surgical instruments and copious amounts of pain medication both during and afterward). However, evidence shows that healers in Peru practiced trepanation—a surgical procedure that involves removing a section of the cranial vault using a hand drill or a scraping tool more than 1,000 years ago to treat a variety of ailments, from head injuries to heartsickness. And they did so without the benefit of the aforementioned medical advances. Excavating burial caves in the south-central Andean province of Andahuaylas in Peru, UC Santa Barbara bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin and her research team unearthed the remains of 32 individuals that date back to the Late Intermediate Period (ca. AD 1000-1250). Among them, 45 separate trepanation procedures were in evidence.
Photos: Ancient Tomb of Chimu Nobles Found in Peru National Geographic - December 3, 2013
Archaeologists working at the site of an ancient town in the coastal desert of northern Peru made a surprising discovery in late August - a multichamber tomb from the much later Chimu culture that held the remains of at least four noble musicians and weavers. Two human sacrifices, seen in this photo, accompanied the tomb's elite occupants into eternity. The site of Samanco spreads over some 75 acres in the Nepena River valley. Most of its ruins belong to a small trading community that flourished between 800 and 200 B.C. But amid the early stone structures, archaeologists uncovered a ten-foot-deep adobe shaft tomb dating to the 15th or 16th century A.D. At that time the Chimu were among the many conquered peoples who made up the vast Inca empire.
Developers destroy ancient Peru pyramid BBC - July 4, 2013
Authorities in Peru say an ancient pyramid at the oldest archaeological site near the capital, Lima, has been destroyed. They are pressing criminal charges against two real-estate companies blamed for tearing down the structure, which was 6m (20-ft) high. An archaeologist said those responsible had committed "irreparable damage". The building was one of 12 pyramids found at the El Paraiso complex and is thought to be at least 4,000 years old. The site, which dates back to the Late Preceramic (3500-1800 BC) period, is situated several kilometres north of Lima. According to Peru's tourism ministry, it was a religious and administrative centre long before the pre-Columbian Inca civilization.
Glittering, unlooted 1,200-year-old royal tomb found in Peru MSNBC - June 27, 2013
Images of winged beings adorn a pair of gold-and-silver ear ornaments that a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave. Archaeologists found the remains of 63 individuals, including three Wari queens, in the imperial tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey. Gold and silver riches from more than a millennium ago have been found in Peru, within what appears to be the first unlooted tomb of South America's Wari civilization, researchers reported Thursday. The dramatic find is being revealed at a news conference at the El Castillo de Huarmey archaeological site, 175 miles (280 kilometers) north of Lima.
Amazingly Untouched Royal Tomb Found in Peru Live Science - June 27, 2013
A rare, undisturbed royal tomb has been unearthed in Peru, revealing the graves of three Wari queens buried alongside gold and silver riches and possible human sacrifices. Though the surrounding site has been looted many times, this mausoleum has managed to evade grave robbers for hundreds of years, archaeologists say. Long before the Inca built Machu Picchu, the Wari empire flourished between A.D. 700 and 1000 throughout much of present-day Peru. At a time when Paris had just 25,000 residents, the Wari capital Huari was home to 40,000 people at its height, according to National Geographic, which reported the find.
Stunning Astronomical Alignment Found at Peru Pyramid Live Science - May 6, 2013
An ancient astronomical alignment in southern Peru has been discovered by researchers between a pyramid, two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. During the solstice, hundreds of years ago, the three would have lined up to frame the pyramid in light. The two stone lines, called geoglyphs, are located about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) east-southeast from the pyramid. They run for about 1,640 feet (500 meters), and researchers say the lines were "positioned in such a way as to frame the pyramid as one descended down the valley from the highlands."
Archaeologists have discovered a pyramid in southern Peru, built between 600 B.C. and 50 B.C. ago, would have aligned with two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. Here, a 3D model shows the event that happened at the Cerro del Gentil pyramid during the winter solstice. The two stone lines frame the pyramid with the sun setting directly behind it. This alignment may have had cosmological significance for the people who lived there. An ancient astronomical alignment in southern Peru has been discovered by researchers between a pyramid, two stone lines and the setting sun during the winter solstice. During the solstice, hundreds of years ago, the three would have lined up to frame the pyramid in light. The two stone lines, called geoglyphs, are located about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) east-southeast from the pyramid. They run for about 1,640 feet (500 meters), and researchers say the lines were "positioned in such a way as to frame the pyramid as one descended down the valley from the highlands." Using astronomical software and 3D modeling, the researchers determined that a remarkable event would have occurred during the time of the winter solstice. "When viewed in 3D models, these lines appear to converge at a point beyond the horizon and frame not only the site of Cerro del Gentil where the pyramid is, but also the setting sun during the time of the winter solstice," the research team wrote in a poster presentation given recently at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in Honolulu.
Ancient Tomb Built to Flood - Sheds Light on Peru Water Cult? National Geographic - September 8, 2012
Archaeologists in Peru thought they had discovered something special when they uncovered the tomb of a pre-Inca priestess and eight other corpses in 2011. But an even bigger find was right beneath their feet. Continuing their search for artifacts a year later, the team dug beneath the priestess, uncovering a basement tomb they believe was built by an ancient water cult and meant to flood.
Odd Pyramid Had Rooftop Homes, Ritual Sacrifices? National Geographic - October 22, 2010
A newly excavated platform atop a pyramid at the Huaca Colorada site looks out on the Peruvian desert. it's yielded human remains - including five females who may have been ritually sacrificed. But it's the signs of life that make a half-excavated Peruvian pyramid of the Moche culture stand out, archaeologists say. Often these pyramidal mounds were built as mortuaries more than anything else. (See pictures from the tomb of the Moche "king of bling.") The newly exposed 1,400-year-old flat-topped pyramid supported residences for up to a couple dozen elites, who oversaw and perhaps took part in copper production at the site, evidence suggests. The pre-Inca pyramid dwellers likely presided over important rituals, feasted on roasted llama and guinea pig, and drank corn beer, according to archaeologists working at the site.
"Lost" Language Found on Back of 400-Year-Old Letter National Geographic - August 27, 2010
Native Peruvian language rediscovered in remains of church. Notes on the back of a 400-year-old letter have revealed a previously unknown language once spoken by indigenous peoples of northern Peru, an archaeologist says. Penned by an unknown Spanish author and lost for four centuries, the battered piece of paper was pulled from the ruins of an ancient Spanish colonial church in 2008. But a team of scientists and linguists has only recently revealed the importance of the words written on the flip side of the letter.
"Unexpected" Male Found in Pre-Inca Tomb National Geographic - September 19, 2009
A gilded mask, found affixed to the front of a coffin, was among the treasures recently uncovered at San Jose de Moro, a site in Peru that once served as a cemetery for the pre-Inca Moche society, archaeologists announced this week. The wooden coffin was unearthed earlier this year in the second room of a unique double-chambered tomb, which dates back to A.D. 850. Inside the coffin, the excavation team found a skeleton of a rattle-wielding elite male, a rare discovery at a site famous as the resting place for several powerful priestesses.
Ancient "King of Bling" Tomb Revealed in Peru National Geographic - April 13, 2009
Packed with treasure in the styles of two ancient orders, the 1,500-year-old tomb of the Moche Indian "king of bling" is like no other, according to archaeologist Steve Bourget. Discovered in Peru at the base of an eroded mud-brick pyramid, the tomb gradually yielded its contents last summer. Among the finds: 19 golden headdresses, various pieces of jewelry, and two funerary masks, as well as skeletons of two other men and a pregnant woman. The tomb's mysterious contents and location far from known Moche capitals could shed new light on this little-known culture of Peru's arid northern coast. Thriving between A.D. 100 and 800, the highly agricultural Moche Indians are known in large part by their stepped pyramids, jewelry-filled tombs, and exquisite pottery and art.
Moche Culture Wikipedia
Human Trophy Heads Were No Strangers Live Science - January 5, 2009
The ancient South American people who created the mysterious Nazca Lines - enormous etched images of everything from hummingbirds to orcas on the high Nazca Desert in Peru some 1,500 to 2,000 years ago, also happened to be regular collectors of human heads. Scientists have long wondered if the heads, suspended from woven cords as trophies, came from enemy cultures as the spoils of war, were used in fertility ceremonies, or had some other purpose.
Trophy heads reveal secrets about ancient South American Nazca civilization PhysOrg - January 8, 2009
The Nasca civilization is perhaps best known for the drawings its people etched onto the desert floor in southwest Peru, a massive and mysterious body of simple and intricate works that span several hundred square miles.
"Spider God" Religious Temple Found in Northern Peru National Geographic - October 29, 2008
A 3,000-year-old temple featuring an image of a spider god may hold clues to little-known cultures in ancient Peru. People of the Cupisnique culture, which thrived from roughly 1500 to 1000 B.C., built the temple in the Lambayeque valley on Peru's north coast. The adobe temple, found this summer and called Collud, is the third discovered in the area in recent years. The finds suggest that the three valley sites may have been part of a large capital for divine worship, said archaeologist Walter Alva, director of the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum. Alva and colleagues started the dig in November 2007, when they discovered a 4,000-year-old temple and a mural painting at the Ventarron site in the valley. Both the temple and mural were the oldest ever found in the Americas.
Oldest Gold Jewelry in Americas National Geographic - April 3, 2008
Americas' Oldest Gold Artifact Discovered in Peru National Geographic - April 1, 2008
A reconstruction of the gold and turquoise beads as a necklace
A nine-bead necklace discovered in Peru is the oldest known gold artifact in the Americas, archaeologists say. The necklace, dated to 2100 B.C., was uncovered in a burial pit near Lake Titicaca next to the jawbone of an adult skull. Prior to this discovery, the oldest known gold artifacts in the New World were found in central Peru at sites dated to around 1500 to 1410 B.C. The burial pit was found near the ancient settlement of Jiskairumoko, which dates back to 3300 B.C. The beads were hammered from gold nuggets and suggest the development of an early sedentary culture.
Lake Titicaca Crystalinks
Pre-Inca temple discovered in Peru National Geographic - March 17, 2008
Peru: Oldest Urban Site in the Americas Found, Experts Claim National Geographic - February 27, 2008
Peru's "Lost City" Is a Natural Formation, Experts Rule National Geographic - February 25, 2008
Remnants of at least ten pyramids have been discovered on the coast of Peru, marking what could be a vast ceremonial site of an ancient, little-known culture.
Ancient Iron Ore Mine Discovered in Peruvian Andes National Geographic - February 11, 2008
A 2,000-year-old mine has been discovered high in mountains in Peru. The find offers proof that an ancient people in the Andes mined hematite iron ore centuries before the Inca Empire, archaeologists say. The mine was used to tap a vein of hematite, or ochre - the first such mine found in South America that predates the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, experts note. The discovery, reported by a U.S. archaeologist, was made in southern Peru in the region once inhabited by the ancient Nasca (often spelled "Nazca") culture.
Archaeologist 'Strikes Gold' With Finds Of Ancient Nasca Iron Ore Mine In Peru Science Daily - February 5, 2008
A Purdue University archaeologist discovered an intact ancient iron ore mine in South America that shows how civilizations before the Inca Empire were mining this valuable ore. "Archaeologists know people in the Old and New worlds have mined minerals for thousands and thousands of years," said Kevin J. Vaughn, an assistant professor of anthropology who studies the Nasca civilization, which existed from A.D. 1 to A.D. 750. "Iron mining in the Old World, specifically in Africa, goes back 40,000 years. And we know the ancient people in Mexico, Central America and North America were mining for various materials. There isn't much evidence for these types of mines. "What we found is the only hematite mine, a type of iron also known as ochre, recorded in South America prior to the Spanish conquest. This discovery demonstrates that iron ores were important to ancient Andean civilizations."
4,000-Year-Old Temple, Mural Found in Peru National Geographic - November 12, 2007
A 4,000-year-old temple filled with murals has been unearthed on the northern coast of Peru, making it one of the oldest finds in the Americas.
Ancient Ruler's Tomb, Gold Trove Found in Bolivia Pyramid National Geographic - August 6, 2007
A 1,300-year-old skeleton buried with a cache of gold artifacts has been found in a Bolivian pyramid, archaeologists say. The remains are believed to belong to an elite member of the ancient Tiwanaku culture, which thrived on the shores of Lake Titicaca from about A.D. 400 to 1200. Scientists found the bones and offerings this spring in the upper reaches of the Akapana pyramid, a heavily looted temple experts say is one of the largest pre-Hispanic structures in South America. The condition of the artifacts and the skeleton's location inside the pyramid lead researchers to believe the individual held high status. The bones, unlike others found in the pyramid, bear no physical markings of having been ritually sacrificed, he said, and the body was found near the top of the temple rather than at the base, where bones are typically found.
Lake Titicaca Crystalinks
Towers point to ancient Sun cult BBC - March 1, 2007
The Thirteen Towers constitute an ancient solar observatory
The oldest solar observatory in the Americas has been found, suggesting the existence of early, sophisticated Sun cults, scientists report. It comprises a group of 2,300-year-old structures, known as the Thirteen Towers, which are found in the Chankillo archaeological site, Peru. The towers span the annual rising and setting arcs of the Sun, providing a solar calendar to mark special dates. These towers have been known to exist for a century or so. It seems extraordinary that nobody really recognized them for what they were for so long.
The rectangular structures, between 75 and 125 square metres (807-1,345 sq ft) in size, are regularly spaced - forming a "toothed" horizon with narrow gaps at regular intervals. About 230m (750ft) to the east and west are what scientists believe to be two observation points. From these vantages, the 300m- (1,000ft-) long spread of the towers along the horizon corresponds very closely to the rising and setting positions of the Sun over the year.
Pre-Inca Observatory Is Oldest in Americas, Study Says National Geographic - March 1, 2007
Peruvian citadel is site of earliest ancient solar observatory in the Americas PhysOrg - March 1, 2007
The fortified stone temple, ceremonial complex, at Chankillo. Archeologists is 2,300 years old
Tomb find reveals pre-Inca city BBC - November 22, 2006
Archaeologists working in northern Peru have discovered a spectacular tomb complex about 1,000 years old. The complex contains at least 20 tombs, and dates from the pre-Inca Sican era. Among the discoveries are 12 "tumis", ceremonial knives which scientists have not been able to study in a burial site before, as well as ceramics and masks. The Sican culture flourished from approximately AD 800-1300, one of several metalworking societies which succumbed to drought and conquest. Archaeologists working on the project say the find will help them understand details of the culture.
Sican Culture Wikipedia
Vast "Cloud Warrior" Ruin Found in Amazon National Geographic - January 20, 2007
An unusual archeological site discovered in Peru's mountains may hold clues to the history of the Chachapoya people, known as "cloud warriors," who fought the Inca Empire before the Spanish conquest.
Mummies of 'cloud warriors' tribe found in Peruvian cave - Independent - October 7, 2006
Archaeologists in Peru have discovered an underground burial vault that could unlock the mystery of a pre-Colombian tribe known as the "warriors of the clouds".
The Chachapoyas commanded a vast kingdom stretching across the Andes to the fringe of Peru's northern Amazon jungle until they were conquered by the Incas in the 15th century. The Incan empire was itself overrun soon after by the Spanish, and details of the Chachapoyas and their way of life were lost or destroyed in the widespread pillaging that followed. Now a team of archaeologists, working on a tip-off from a local farmer, have uncovered a burial site in a 820ft-deep cave. The researchers have so far found five mummies, two of which are intact with skin and hair, as well as ceramics, textiles and wall paintings, the expedition's leader.
The tribe's own name is unknown. The word Chachapoyas is thought to come from the Quechua for "cloud people", and is the name by which they were known to the Incas, because of the cloud forests they inhabited in what is now northern Peru. A white-skinned people who were famed as ferocious fighters, the Chachapoyas held out against the Incans, who ruled an empire stretching from southern Chile to northern Ecuador until their conquest by the Spanish.
Today, the Cloud People are best known for their stone citadel, Kuelap, with more than 400 buildings and massive exterior stone walls, which is often referred to as the Machu Picchu of the north. Mr Corbera said the walls in the limestone cave near the mummies were covered with paintings of faces and warrior-like figures which may have been drawn to ward off intruders and evil spirits. "The remote site for this cemetery tells us that the Chachapoyas had enormous respect for their ancestors because they hid them away for protection. Locals call the cave Iyacyecuj, or Enchanted Water in Quechua, because of its spiritual importance and its underground rivers.
Chachapoya Culture Wikipedia
Ancient Calendar Unearthed in Peru Discovery - June 5, 2006
Archaeologists have discovered an enormous prehistoric calendar, formed by sculptures arranged in a circle, at the Temple of the Fox in Buena Vista, Peru. The calendar, which dates to 2200 B.C., is the oldest known structure of its kind found in the Americas.
Similar monuments erected by the Mayans of Mexico have also been found, but those have dated to approximately 2,000 years ago. There have been European versions too. "Early solstice markers are known in Ireland with dates earlier than Buena Vista, but not, to my knowledge, with multiple instruments," said Robert Benfer, who oversaw the project and is a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. "The most famous would be the case of (Egyptian ruler) Amenhotep, who at 1,500 B.C. had statues erected to gaze at the solstice when the Nile was about to flood".
The Peruvian calendar would have been a dramatic sight for onlookers 4,000 years ago. Its towering sculptures - made of mud plaster mixed with grass and covered with clay - were painted bright yellow and red. Benfer told Discovery News the temple and its sculptures seem linked to astronomical alignments that would have guided practitioners of flood plain agriculture, which persists in the region.
Major celestial events, such as the rising and setting of the sun during equinoxes and solstices, would have drawn lines connecting points at the temple's entrance, sculptures, surrounding ridges and chambers. One chamber creates a line aimed toward the rising sun on Dec. 21, which marks the season when floodwaters begin to rise. On March 21, when these waters recede, the same line points towards the Andean constellation of the fox. Field director Neil Duncan, who worked with Peruvian archaeologist Bernardino Ojeda, told Discovery News the chambers contained remnants of offerings primarily consist of plant remains: cotton and cotton seeds, fruits such as lucuma and guava, squash and gourds, beans and grass. He added that a sunken pit in the center of the temple also contained shellfish, crab and mussel shells, and anchovy-sized fish bones. The researchers found no evidence of human sacrifice, but they did discover a cotton-shrouded mummy of a woman in the fetal position. Perhaps the most striking object found at the temple was a large personified disk that frowns at the sunset on June 21, the traditional start of the harvest. The ancients may have enjoyed a bit of dry humor, given all of the upcoming work. The frowning face represents Pacha Mama, an Earth mother goddess who became sad when the sun set.
Brewery Was Burned After Ancient Peru Drinking Ritual National Geographic - November 17, 2005
A thousand years ago, the residents of Cerro Baul evacuated the frontier town in southern Peru. But first they drank themselves silly on spicy corn beer, then set the brewery, palace, and temple on fire. This was no impromptu blowout, however. The event marked the ceremonial destruction of a sacred mountain enclave of the Wari people, a new archaeological study suggests. The Wari empire built the settlement on top of a mesa - a flat-topped mountain - in the Andes mountains around A.D. 600. Populated by the Wari elite, Cerro Baul served as an embassy outpost to the neighboring Tiwanaku state for 400 years. As the two nations started to decline, the town was abandoned.
Giant Figures in Peru Desert Pre-date Nazca Lines Epoch Times - May 24, 2005
A group of about 50 drawings of giant figures recently discovered in the hills of Peru's southern coastal desert near the city of Palpa has been said to predate the famous Nazca
The Paracas figures were created by removing dark stones in order to expose the lighter surface underneath. Some areas were cleared and others built up with rock, creating figures in high and low relief. With the Nazca lines though, the geoglyphs were only made by clearing low-relief areas. Until recently scientists believed that the figures in the Palpa and Nazca regions were only from the Nazca culture. Mr. Isla says cultural dating and style of the newly found Paracas figures sets them apart.
"Most of these geoglyphs belong to the Nazca culture but our recent studies demonstrated that there are at least 50 geoglyphs pertaining to the Paracas culture. These new figures are definitely different and older than those of the Nazca culture. First, the Paracas figures were drawn on the slopes of the hills, while the Nazca images were drawn in level areas. Second, the Paracas figures are smaller and were made in a naturalistic style, while the Nazca figures are bigger and stylized. Third, the Paracas figures are mostly arranged in groups, while the Nazca figures are arranged individually. Finally, it is important to note that not one of the Paracas figures were repeated in the Nazca iconography.
Although the existence of some of the Paracas figures was previously known, most were undiscovered due to their remote location, and their visibility is highly affected by the position of the sun. One set of figures is known as the "Temple of Fertility" as one image represents a man, another a woman and the center image seems to represent a divine figure with a head from which emanates a series of rays that end in human heads. The principal idea is that together the three figures represent the reproduction of the human species, the continuity of life. According to results obtained from our studies of the Nazca geoglyphs, we can suggest that the Paracas geoglyphs were made also in the context of a religious culture related to water. The Palpa and Nazca valleys are in the middle of one of the most arid deserts of the world, where the surface water is a vital resource to develop life," said Mr. Isla. Further studies may tell more about the Paracas people, their ways of life and early history of the area.
Paracas Culture Wikipedia
Tattooed Mummy With Jewelry Found in Peru Pyramid National Geographic - May 16, 2006
The 1,500-year-old mummy may shed new light on the mysterious Moche culture, which occupied Peru's northern coastal valleys from about A.D. 100 to 800. In addition to the heavily tattooed body, the tomb yielded a rich array of funeral objects, from gold sewing needles and weaving tools to masterfully worked metal jewelry. Such a complete array has never been seen before in a Moche tomb. Surprisingly, the grave also contained numerous weapons, including two massive war clubs and 23 spear throwers. The unusual mix of ornamental and military artifacts has experts speculating about the woman's identity and her role in Moche society.
Scores of Inca Mummies Unearthed in Peru National Geographic - March 11, 2004
Dozens of exquisitely preserved Inca mummies are being recovered from a barren hillside on the outskirts of Peru's bustling capital city, Lima. In a matter of months a highway will roar past the ancient cemetery.
Incan Mummies Crystalinks
Peruvian writing system goes back 5,000 years MSNBC - July 20, 2005
Ancient culture used knots and strings to convey information
Archaeologists in Peru have found a 'quipu' on the site of the oldest city in the Americas, indicating that the device, a sophisticated arrangement of knots and strings used to convey detailed information, was in use thousands of years earlier than previously believed. Previously the oldest known quipus, often associated with the Incas whose vast South American empire was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, dated from about A.D. 650. But Ruth Shady, an archaeologist leading investigations into the Peruvian coastal city of Caral, said quipus were among a treasure trove of articles discovered at the site, which is about 5,000 years old. "This is the oldest quipu, and it shows us that this society ... also had a system of writing (which) would continue down the ages until the Inca empire and would last some 4,500 years," Shady said. She was speaking before the opening in Lima Tuesday of an exhibition of the artifacts which shed light on Caral, which she called one of the world's oldest civilizations.
The quipu, with its well-preserved, brown cotton strings wound around thin sticks, was found with a series of offerings including mysterious fiber balls of different sizes wrapped in nets and pristine reed baskets. "We are sure it corresponds to the period of Caral because it was found in a public building, It was an offering placed on a stairway when they decided to bury this and put down a floor to build another structure on top."
Pyramid-shaped public buildings were being built at Caral, a planned coastal city 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Lima, at the same time that the Saqqara pyramid, the oldest in Egypt, was going up. They were were already being revamped when Egypt's Great Pyramid of Cheops (or Khufu) was under construction, Man only began living in an organized way 5,000 years ago in five points of the globe - Mesopotamia (roughly comprising modern Iraq and part of Syria), Egypt, India, China and Peru, Caral was 3,200 years older than cities of another ancient American civilization, the Maya," she added.
Shady said no equivalent of the Rosetta Stone that deciphered the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt had yet been found to fully unlock the language of the quipus, but said their existence pointed to a sophisticated, organized society where such information as production, taxes and debts were recorded. They came up with their own system because unlike cities in the Old World which had contact with each other and exchanged knowledge and experiences, this (city) in Peru was isolated in the Americas, and advanced alone. Caral's arid location at an altitude of 11,500 feet (3,500 meters) has helped preserve its treasures, such as piles of raw cotton - still uncombed and containing seeds, though turned a dirty brown by the ages - and a ball of cotton thread. Nobles wore their hair in two long ponytails each side of the face, with a fringe at the front and the hair on the top of the head cropped close to the skull.
Incan Counting System Decoded? - Discovery - January 30, 2004
The Inca invented a powerful counting system that could be used to make complex calculations without the tiniest mistake, according to an Italian engineer who claims to have cracked the mathematics of this still mysterious ancient population.
Begun in the Andean highlands in about 1200, the Inca ruled the largest empire on Earth by the time their last emperor, Atahualpa, was garroted by Spanish conquistadors in 1533.
Long been considered the only major Bronze Age civilization without a written language, they left mysterious objects that, according to the latest research, would have been used to store units of information.
Recent studies are investigating the hypothesis that elaborated knotted strings known as khipu contain a hidden written language stored following a seven-bit binary code. Nobody, however, had been able to explain the meaning of these geometrical tablets known as yupana. Different in size and shape, the yupana had been often interpreted as a stylized fortress model. Some scholars also interpreted it as a counting board, but how the abacus would have worked remained a mystery.
The drawing was found in a 1,179 page letter by the Peruvian Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala to the King of Spain. A simple array of cells consisting of five rows and four columns, the drawing showed one circle in the right cell on the bottom row, two circles in the next cell, three circles in the other one and five circles in the last cell of the row. The same pattern applied to the above rows.
According to De Pasquale, the circles in the cells are nothing but the first numbers of the Fibonacci series, in which each number is a sum of two previous: 1, 2, 3, 5. The Inca's calculating system does not take into consideration the number zero. Moreover, numbers do not exist as graphic representations.
The abacus would then work on a base 40 numbering system."Instead, all scholars based their calculations according to a base 10 counting system. But calculations made to base 40 are quicker, and can be easily reconverted to base 10," Antonio Aimi, curator of the exhibition "Peru, 3,000 Years of Masterpieces" running in Florence, told Discovery News. "Since we lack definitive archaeological evidence, we tested this claim on 16 yupana from museums across the world. De Pasquale's system works on all of them.
Khipu knowledge today are created, shared, demonstrated, used, and stored in many writing technological forms: not only monographs, books, conference talks, but also websites, databases, images, exhibitions, reenactments, television documentaries, tourist and heritage tours, sites and festivals, as well as village and kinship ritual work processes. Gender and nationality, ethnicity and race, indigenous politics and university restructuring, all play roles in such systems entangled as current processes of globalization. We could call this plethora a kind of "transmedia storytelling" involving trans-disciplinary knowledge makings: both extensive inspections and intensive collaborations, across platforms and knowledge worlds.
Peruvian farmers learn from history BBC - May 22, 2003
Agricultural techniques perfected by Inca farmers 500 years ago are beginning to have a dramatic effect on the incomes of today's farmers in Pampachiri, one of the poorest areas of Peru. An ancient water transport system, developed by the Wira culture and refined by the Incas, has been restored by the Cusichaca Trust NGO using traditional methods. Clay, stone, sand, and a certain type of cactus juice, have restored the system of canals and terraces, in turn helping repair the area's shattered economy. The region is home to around 2,500 people, and agriculture - particularly livestock farming - is the key industry.
Peru Ruins Trace Anthropological Riddle in Sand - AP - May 30, 2001
Peruvian archaeologists excavate what they believe to be the oldest city in the Americas, the sacred ruins of Caral, which lie some 120 miles north of Lima in a coastal desert between the Andes and the waters of the Pacific, in this photo taken May 11, 2001. The ruins, which have been carbon dated to some 100 years before the Great Pyramid at Giza, could provide anthropologists with a glimpse of the birth of modern society in the Americas.
On a scarp overlooking a lush valley carved through Peru's dusty Andean foothills, archeologists have unearthed what they believe is the oldest city in the Americas - the sacred ruins of Caral. A team from Peru's San Marcos University has painstakingly excavated the arid hillocks above the River Supe north of Lima to reveal six ancient pyramids, an amphitheater and residential complex that they have dated to as early as 2627 BC. "In these structures of stone, mud and tree trunks we find the cradle of American civilization,'' said Ruth Shady, who is leading the excavations.
The discovery is already being hailed as the most exciting find in Peru since 1911, when Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled on the ruined Inca citadel of Machu Picchu hidden in the clouds of the craggy Andean highlands. Anthropologists working at Caral believe the windswept ruins 14 miles from the Pacific will provide a glimpse of the birth of urban society in the Americas and may challenge theories that the earliest civilizations settled by the sea. They say a priestly society built the stone structures here without the aid of wheels or metal tools almost a century before the Egyptians erected the Great Pyramid at Giza.
The remains, some 120 miles north of Lima in a coastal desert between the Andes and the Pacific, predate Machu Picchu by three millennia and are some 1,100 years older than Olmec in Mexico, the oldest city in the Americas outside Peru. Up to 10,000 people may once have inhabited the 160-acre site at Caral, archeologists believe, and its construction suggests a regional capital with urban planning, centralized decision making and a structured labor force.
Today Andean Indians - including women with braids, black hats and traditional colored skirts - carve out a livelihood tending goats and growing corn beside the dirt track that connects Caral to the nearest town an hour's drive away.Despite the hardships of working in the blazing sun and living in an isolated farmhouse with no electricity or running water, the sunburned, bearded Peralta brims with enthusiasm.
For a nation subjugated by 16th century Spanish conquistadors, who ransacked its rich indigenous culture in a frenzied lust for gold, such discoveries testify to the long heritage of what Europeans dubbed theNew World. The once-in-a-lifetime find has sparked acrimony in the international academic community. Shady accuses U.S. anthropologist Jonathan Haas of Chicago's Field Museum of trying to steal the credit for seven years of her hard work.
Subsequent civilizations never occupied the site but apparently revered it, leaving gold and silver offerings at its perimeters. South America's most advanced pre-conquest civilization, the Incas, built temples on its outskirts. Inhabitants of Caral also apparently believed the buildings were divine, dotting their homes and temples with tiny alcoves filled with dried-mud figurines and small sacred bonfires. Excavations have also exhumed a skeleton from the walls of one home, which was buried there rather than sacrificed.
As with the Mayans who ruled Mexico, Guatemalaand Honduras around AD 300, the construction of religious pyramids suggest the existence of a theocracy, but the inhabitants of Caral differed by living in their ceremonial centers, Peralta said. There are also signs Caral had the earliest known system of crop irrigation in the Americas. Coastal artifacts, including 32 pipes made of pelican bones and copious anchovy and sardine bones, suggest the residents may have traded their cotton and fruit crops with fishing communities in return for food.
Caral: the oldest town in the New World
Sometime before 3200 BC, if not 3500 BC, something happened in the Norte Chico in Peru, an agronomical no-go area, where hardly anything grows. This, however, is the site where the oldest traces of a genuine civilization – pyramids included – were found in America. Here, at least 25 large ceremonial/residential sites have so far been found, of which Caral has become the most famous. The North Chico, roughly 100 km north of the Peruvian capital Lima, consists of four narrow river valleys, from south to north, the Huaura, Supe, Pativilca, and Fortaleza. The ancient pyramids of Caral predate the Inca civilization by 4000 years, but were flourishing a century before the pyramids of Gizeh. No surprise therefore that they have been identified as the most important archaeological discovery since the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911.
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