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Peruvian History & Archaeology




Explorers Find Ancient City in Remote Peru Jungle
Tue Aug 17, 2004 07:28 PM ET

By Marco Aquino
LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - An ancient walled city complex inhabited some 1,300 years ago by a culture later conquered by the Incas has been discovered deep in Peru's Amazon jungle, explorers said on Tuesday.

U.S. and Peruvian explorers uncovered the city, which may have been home to up to 10,000 people, after a month trekking in Peru's northern rain forest and following up on years of investigation about a possible lost metropolis in the region.

The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.

"It is a tremendous city ... containing areas with stone etchings and 10-meter (33-foot) high walls," said Savoy, who had to hack through trees and thick foliage to finally reach the site on Aug. 15.

Covered in matted tree branches and interspersed with lakes and waterfalls, the settlement sites also contain well-preserved graveyards with mummies with teeth "in almost perfect condition," Savoy said.

Replete with stone agricultural terraces and water canals, the city complex is thought to have been home to the little-known Chachapoyas culture.

According to early accounts by Spanish conquistadors who arrived in Peru in the early 1500s, the Chachapoyas were a fair-skinned warrior tribe famous for their tall stature. Today they are known for the giant burial coffins sculpted into human figures found in the northern jungle region.

Savoy said his team also found an Inca settlement within the city complex that could prove theories the Chachapoyas were conquered by the Incas, who ruled an area stretching from Ecuador to northern Chile between 1300 and 1500.

Savoy, a Peruvian-American, accompanied on the expedition by his U.S. father, Gene Savoy, named the site Gran Saposoa after the nearby village Saposoa and his team has already mapped the area with preliminary drawings.

The discovery is the third notable ruin Gene Savoy has helped uncover in Peru. In 1964, Savoy found the site of the Incas' last refuge in the Cuzco region of southern Peru. A year later he took part in the discovery of the sacred city of Gran Pajaten in northern Peru.

American Hiram Bingham made Peru's most famous archeological discovery -- the fabled Inca ruins of Machu Picchu near Cuzco -- in 1911. Machu Picchu today attracts almost half a million tourists every year and is South America's best known archeological site.
This sounds great. Good that discoveries like that can still be made. But I would have loved to be on an expedition like that. Walking through thick jungle looking for an ancient lost city.
Kuelap; Pre-Incan Peruvian Fortress


Ancient city emerges from the clouds
October 26 2004 at 05:08PM

By Roberto Cortijo

The Peruvian government has presented ambitious plans to turn the stone fortress of Kuelap, a remote pre-Inca site in northern Peru, into one of the country's main tourism attractions.

Kuelap is located on a mountain top on the eastern ridge of the Andes, 3 000m above sea level and about 700km north of Lima.

The original inhabitants, the Sachapuyo or Chachapoyas, were known as the "people of the clouds" because their stone cities were built on a site where the cold Andean air meets the warm tropical air from the Amazon basin, resulting in a semi-permanent layer of mist and fog.

Air links between Lima and Chachapoyas are spotty, and land access on dirt roads is difficult.

It currently takes more than an hour to get from the floor of the Utcubamba valley up a steep zig-zagging road to the site itself - and the view is so spectacular visitors have dubbed it the Machu Picchu of the north.

Peruvian tourism officials are convinced that Kuelap can become one of the country's main tourist sites, and have devised an ambitious -million (R305-million) plan for that purpose.

The plan, which is to start in the next months, includes -million (R132.3 million) to build eight tourist stops with museums and an archaeological research centre in the area.

A second phase is to build a 53km long road linking the towns of Pedro Ruiz and Leimebamba, improve tourist access to the Utcubamba valley, where several Chachapoyas sites, including Kuelap and the Gran Pajaten, are located.

And -million (R25,2-million) will be assigned to build a 2,7km-long cable car to carry tourists from the valley floor of Kuelap, cutting the wait to 15 minutes.

The government is seeking private partners, including local communities, to join in the effort for a cut in the profits. Kuelap is about 450ha of stone structures surrounded by a rock wall 20m high.

The site was inhabited, initially by about 500 people. During its heyday around 3 000 people are believed to have lived there.

In the 1470s the Chachapoyas were conquered, after fierce resistance, by the Incas, who in turn were defeated by Spanish conquistadors in the 1530s. Kuelap was abandoned around that time and only re-discovered in 1843.

Of the more than one million tourists who visit Peru each year, seven percent travel to the southern Andean city of Cuzco, the capital of the former Inca empire, and on to the much-visited ruins of Machu Picchu.

Fourteen percent travel to northern Peru - mainly mountain climbers heading to the country's highest mountain chain in Ancash, north of Lima - and 13 percent to central Peru.
I want to go. :)
Explorers find ancient city in remote Peru jungle

Marco Aquino (Reuters)

Lima, Peru, August 18, 2005|05:46 IST

An ancient walled city complex inhabited some 1,300 years ago by a culture later conquered by the Incas has been discovered deep in Peru's Amazon jungle, explorers said on Tuesday.

US and Peruvian explorers uncovered the city, which may have been home to up to 10,000 people, after a month trekking in Peru's northern rain forest and following up on years of investigation about a possible lost metropolis in the region.

The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.

"It is a tremendous city ... containing areas with stone etchings and 10-metre (33-foot) high walls," said Savoy, who had to hack through trees and thick foliage to finally reach the site on August 15.

Covered in matted tree branches and interspersed with lakes and waterfalls, the settlement sites also contain well-preserved graveyards with mummies with teeth "in almost perfect condition," Savoy said.
Presumably it was discovered by time travellers (see the dateline of the story) :shock: ;)
It must have been a very slow news day for the Hindustan times, this popped up in August last year.

forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... +lost+city
Link is obsolete. See earlier post above.

Doesn't seem to have been any new revelations since :(
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Peruvian ‘writing’ system goes back 5,000 years
Ancient culture used knots and strings to convey information

By Jude Webber
Updated: 9:34 p.m. ET July 20, 2005

LIMA, Peru - 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.

Found among offerings
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,” Shady said. “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, Shady said.

“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,” Shady said. Caral was 3,200 years older than cities of another ancient American civilization, the Maya, she added.

Caral ‘advanced alone’
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 becausem 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.

The exhibition includes some of the 25 huge whale bones fashioned into chairs found at the site, as well as a cotton-soled sandal and flutes and pipes made from animal horns, pelican or condor bones or reeds.

The remains of jungle fruits, cactus fiber and shells revealed trade with distant regions and a block of salt the size of a small laptop computer was found in Caral’s main temple, suggesting salt may have had religious as well as commercial value.

Shady said representations on clay figurines had helped show that 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.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.
© 2005 MSNBC.com
Link is dead. The MIA webpage (quoted in full above) can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:
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Peruvian brewmasters pinned down
Published online: 14 November 2005;
| doi:10.1038/news051114-2
Peruvian brewmasters pinned down
Clues hint that elite women partook in ancient drinking ceremonies.
Roxanne Khamsi

Shawl pins found on the floor of an excavated brewery have helped archaeologists to weave together a picture of ancient life in Peru. The pins belonged to elite women of the Wari Empire and support the idea that the site, which sits atop a 600-metre-high rock mesa called Cerro Baúl, served as a centre of diplomacy.

The 25-hectare summit of Cerro Baúl is known to have once been a bustling city, packed with houses and ceremonial buildings. Although archaeologists have known about these ruins since the 1970s, the exact purpose of the ceremonial areas has remained unclear.

The puzzle attracted the interest of Michael Moseley, an anthropologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Moseley has closely studied the Wari Empire, which ruled much of what is now modern-day Peru before being overtaken by the Incas around AD 1000.

Through careful excavation and analysis of the site, Moseley and his fellow researchers have pieced together a story of what they think happened there: the inhabitants were beer-makers, they say. And the workers involved were probably high-class women. The researchers say the booze was probably produced for drinking ceremonies with the neighbouring Tiwanaku people, with whom the Wari competed for scarce resources in the desert environment.

The Wari have been described as relatively secular and militaristic. The Cerro Baúl site represents a unique location where they had direct contact with members of the Tiwanaku state to the south.

Berries in the ashes

The team describe in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 how the ceremonial area of Cerro Baúl is composed of a series of rooms where ash deposits suggest the presence of numerous fire pits. Berry seeds in the deposits, along with many fragments of ceramic vats and ceremonial cups, support the idea that the facility served as a brewery.

In the same region today, brewers of the traditional, beer-like 'chicha' drink boil spicy berries to create a syrupy mash that is later fermented.

The archaeologists tried their hand at recreating the ancient chicha recipe while visiting the region, though given the results Moseley says: "I'm not sure our ethnobotanist got the recipe right." The result was so spicy they had to mix it with modern beer to make it drinkable.

Moseley and his colleagues also found nearly a dozen shawl pins embedded in the brewery floor. These pins, which look like long needles with flattened heads, are thought to have belonged to the most privileged Wari women.

This hints that brewing was not a slave's task but part of a wealthy woman's sphere of activity. It also reinforces the idea that the elite class occupied Cerro Baúl and could have held drinking ceremonies with Tiwanaku representatives.

The archaeologists admit that the women could have thrown their pins on the floor as part of a ritual once the brewing was completed by someone else. But they point out that the pins are found throughout the ash deposits. Alternatively, the heat from the boiling vats could have made the women remove their shawls, they suggest, and the pins were lost in the process.

Moseley M., et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci., Published online. doi:10.1073/pnas.0508673102 (2005).

Story from [email protected]:
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Ancient Canals Reveal Underpinnings Of Early Andean Civilization
Nashville TN (SPX) Nov 30, 2005
Canals discovered in the Peruvian Andes dating back over 5,400 years offer long-sought proof that irrigation was at the heart of the development of one of the earth's first civilizations.
The discovery by Vanderbilt University anthropologist Tom Dillehay and his colleagues, Herbert Eling, Instituto Naciona de Anthropolotica e Historia in Coahulila, Mexico, and Jack Rossen, Ithaca College, was reported in the Nov. 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The anthropologists discovered the canals in Peru's upper middle Zana Valley, approximately 60 kilometers east of the Pacific coast. Preliminary results indicate one of the canals is over 6,700 years old, while another has been confirmed to be over 5,400 years old. They are the oldest such canals yet discovered in South America.

"Peru is one of the few places on the planet where there was independent development of civilization. One of the signatures of the beginning of civilization and complex society is intensive agriculture, where you have not only crops but also irrigation technology," Dillehay, distinguished professor of anthropology and chair of the department, said.

"That element—irrigation technology—was always missing in archaeological findings of early Andean civilization. We found it by looking farther up the valley away from the coastal plains and by excavating deeply."

Anthropologists had presumed that the canals that helped support early Andean civilization had lain closer to the surface and were hence destroyed by human activity and nature over time. Dillehay and his team found that the canals had not been destroyed but had been buried by sediment. The team made its initial discovery of the canal system in 1989 and has been working since to uncover the broader picture of the canals and the civilization that they supported.

"Our findings indicate that people were building these canals and creating artificial wetlands—essentially garden plots—in the Andes over 5,400 years ago," Dillehay said. "This was an important moment for this civilization as it established a codependency between the crops and the people, which allowed and encouraged larger groups of people to begin to settle down in one place.

"This type of agriculture also created leisure time, allowing people to do things such as crafts and to become involved in public ritual," Dillehay continued. "What you see in a civilization after they start cultivating food and domesticating animals are changes in social life."

The team uncovered four canals ranging in length from one to four kilometers. The canals are narrow, symmetric, shallow and U-shaped. They were lined with stones and small pebbles, and appear to be individually designed to take advantage of different periods of water availability. The canals were built along the edge of a terrace above a nearby stream and used gravity to deliver water downhill to the agricultural fields.

A striking feature of the canals is that they are located on a very slight slope, indicating that their builders were able to engineer them to function hydraulically in a relatively sophisticated manner. All domestic sites found in the area lie within 2.5 kilometers of the canals and share tools, structures, dietary remains and other features, indicating they were part of the same society.
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Tomb find reveals pre-Inca city

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 was a very organised society

Izumi Shimada
"It is a religious city, a sacred settlement, and at each excavation site is a cemetery," Izumi Shimada told Peru's El Comercio newspaper.

"That tells us that Sican was a very organised society."

Professor Shimada, based at the University of Southern Illinois in the US, has been excavating Sican sites for a quarter of a century. The latest dig was performed in conjunction with the Sican National Museum.

Trading goods

The burial site sits on Peru's northern coast, near the town of Ferrenafe.

Discoveries in the tomb complex include tumis formed from an alloy of silver, copper and gold; masks, breastplates and ceramics.

The site contains at least 20 tombs, making it a "religious city"
Buried in a pyramid 30m (100ft) long, archaeologists found the bones of a woman in her early 20s surrounded by figurines of Sican gods, ceramics and objects in copper and gold.

Another set of bones, clearly from a person of some stature, were found in a seated position accompanied by a metallic crown, part of a thorny oyster, and various ceramic objects including a vase.

The tumis are a prize find, because until now the knives have come to scientists from tomb raiders. Finding them in situ would allow a closer understanding of their role in Sican culture, researchers said.

One of the tumis features a representation of Naylamp, the mythical founder of Sican society who according to legend emerged from the sea and became a god.

The Sican were noted for producing gold, silver and copper in quantities which were substantial for the period.

They traded shells and stones with societies in what are now Ecuador, Chile and Colombia.

Their civilisation had already declined by the time that the mightiest of Peruvian cultures, the Inca, rose to prominence about AD 1200.

Pre-Columbian Ruin Discovered In Peru

Web address: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 144302.htm

Source: Discovery Channel
Date: January 18, 2007

Pre-Columbian Ruin Discovered In Peru

Science Daily — Explorer Keith Muscutt has announced the existence of a previously unknown pre-Columbian ruin in Peru: the Huaca La Penitenciaría de la Meseta, which will be featured in Discovery Channel's new series, CHASING MUMMIES, premiering January 2008.

Located in the cloud-forested eastern slope of the Andes mountains, the ruin is believed to belong to the ancient Chachapoya -- a civilization that flourished in the upper Amazon, between its Huallaga and the Marañón tributaries, from about the ninth to the fifteenth century AD. Muscutt delivered the news at the annual Institute for Andean Studies conference at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Chachapoya are renowned for their mountain-top citadels, such as Kuelap, Gran Pajatén and Vira Vira, and for well-preserved mummies recovered from cliff tombs at the Lake of the Condors and Lake Huayabamba. The ruin, consisting of a ceremonial platform (approximately 100 ft. x 200 ft. x 24 ft.) overlooking a plaza (approximately 200 ft. x 300 ft.), as well as numerous rectangular and circular buildings, is of particular interest because of its unprecedented form, size, and the remoteness of the area in which it was found.

First discovered by local pioneers, Octavio, Merlin and Edison Añazco, the site was nicknamed the "Huaca La Penitenciaría" (Penitenciary Ruin) because of its impregnable appearance. News of their discovery was relayed by them to Muscutt who, guided by the Añazcos, arrived at the site and made a preliminary survey of it in August of 2006.

"This is an exciting development for Chachapoya archaeology. The main building is a stepped, rectangular structure made up of three tiers. This building is about two-hundred feet long, a hundred feet wide, twenty-four feet high, and oriented to the cardinal points of the compass. As far as I can tell, apart from some drainage shafts, it's completely solid. I imagine it served as a ceremonial platform -- a stage for Chachapoya rituals," said Muscutt.

Summary of Facts

Discoverers: Octavio, Merlin and Edison Añazco, descendents of the pioneer Benigno Añazco, who first reached and settled La Meseta in the 1980s.

Members of the August 2006 Expedition: Eyner Añazco, Robinson Añazco, Patrocino Añazco, Clever Añazco, Alan Añazco, Merlin Añazco, Edison Añazco, Cheyver Garrido, Keith Muscutt.

Location: La Meseta, a plateau in otherwise mountainous territory, between the Río Verde (also known as Río Chilchos) and Río Huabayacu, both tributaries of the Río Huallabamba, in the Department of San Martín, Peru; approximately 7 degrees South of the Equator, and 77 degrees and 30 minutes West of Greenwich. The village of La Morada, an annex of Chuquibamba, Chachapoyas, Amazonas, is two days on foot or by mule from La Meseta.

Elevation: 2,000 meters above sea level (approx. 6,000 feet).

Natural Environment: Lower mountain cloud forest. High rainfall and humidity. Vegetation: trees, thorny shrubs, bamboos, palms, vines, bromeliads, orchids, tree-ferns. Large animals include jaguar, spectacled bear, spider monkey. Birds include toucans, turkeys and parakeets.

Cultural Affiliation: Chachapoya

Date: 850AD to 1475AD.

Who were the Chachapoya?: An agriculturally-based, stone-building, metal-working culture that occupied the highlands and the cloud forests, or "ceja de la montaña" (eyebrow of the jungle), along the spine of the Andes, between the Marañón and Huallaga drainages, in North-Eastern Peru. They flourished for several centuries, probably acting as middle-men in the trade of items such as coca leaves and feathers between the lowland tribes and the coastal civilizations. They were overwhelmed by the Inca empire in the late 15th century. Always rebellious, they quickly allied themselves with Spanish conquistadores to throw off the Inca yoke, but they themselves soon fell victim to European epidemic diseases. Their population decimated, their culture disappeared entirely except for the ruins and artifacts they left behind. Archaeological research into the Chachapoya is scant. Scarcity of scientific information about them has unfortunately caused them to become the object of much speculation and fantasy – with unsubstantiated reports of vast Chachapoya metropolises, claims that the Chachapoya realm was El Dorado, and so forth. They have also been fictionalized in Clive Custler's novel "Inca Gold."

Keith Muscutt

Keith Muscutt has been exploring the upper Utcubamba, Pusac, Huabayacu, Huayabamba, Yonan, Huambo, Imaza, and Lejia drainages, in the Peruvian Departments of Amazonas, San Martín and La Libertad since 1981. Among the sites he was the first to document are: the walled citadel of Vira Vira; Pampa Hermosa; and the cliff tombs of Laguna Huayabamba, Cueva de Osiris, Casa de Oro, Brillante Luna, Tres Ojos, and Casa Blanca. He was a member of the official reconnaissance expedition that recorded the looted Chachapoya-Inca burial sites at the Lake of the Condors. Founder of an NGO, Fundacíon Benéfica Niños Pobres de Chuquibamba, he is Assistant Dean of the Arts at UC Santa Cruz, a member of the Institute for Andean Studies, and a Research Associate of the Museum of Man in San Diego.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Discovery Channel.
Pre-Columbian ruin discovered in Peru
U.S. explorer Keith Muscutt says archeologists discovered a pre-Columbian ruin in Peru.

Muscutt said the ruin, located in the cloud-forested eastern slope of the Andes, is believed to belong to the ancient Chachapoya, a civilization that flourished in the upper Amazon between the ninth and 15th centuries.

Muscutt made the announcement this month during the annual meeting of the Institute for Andean Studies at the University of California-Berkeley.

Discovered by Octavio, Merlin and Edison Anazco, news of the discovery was relayed to Muscutt who, guided by the Anazcos, arrived at the site and conducted a preliminary survey last August.

"This is an exciting development for Chachapoya archaeology," said Muscutt. "The main building is a stepped, rectangular structure made up of three tiers. This building is about 200 feet long, 100 feet wide, 24 feet high and oriented to the cardinal points of the compass. As far as I can tell, apart from some drainage shafts, it's completely solid."

The ruin will be featured in the Discovery Channel's series "Chasing Mummies," which is to premier next year.
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Trophy Skull Sheds Light On Ancient Wari Empire

Source: Earthwatch Institute
Date: January 28, 2007

Trophy Skull Sheds Light On Ancient Wari Empire

Science Daily — A team of archaeologists and Earthwatch volunteers led by Dr. Mary Glowacki and Louis Tesar uncovered an elite Wari cemetery at Cotocotuyoc this past summer in Peru's Huaro Valley, near Cuzco. Among their finds was a "trophy skull," which offers insight into warfare in the Wari Empire based here from 1,500 to 1,000 years ago.

Cotocotuyoc trophy skull showing cut nasal area and gold alloy pins used to fasten the scalp back on for public desplay. This Wari warrior, excavated by Earthwatch volunteers working with Dr. Mary Glowacki, was approximately 30 years old and had survived several head injuries. (Courtesy of Mary Glowacki) Ads by Google Advertise on this site

The trophy skull was found in what the archaeologists consider the VIP area of the cemetery. Special placement of llama bones, a distinguishing feature of Wari remains, alerted the archaeologists and volunteers that something special might be underneath. The skull had a large circular hole cut in its base, suggesting that it may have been put or held on a pole. A large hole in the back of the skull indicates that it may have been worn during special ceremonies like a large pendant. The skull also features a line cut across the frontal bone, which indicates removal of the scalp possibly for the cleaning, perhaps for use as a ceremonial vessel, and was later reattached to the skull with gold alloy pins.

The skull was likely that of a warrior, as indicated by the many scars and abrasions on various parts of the skull that showed evidence of healing. Archaeologists estimate the man was around the age of 30 at his death, and that he must have been a warrior of repute for the Wari to remove his head and display the skull.

"The trophy skull adds a new dimension to our understanding of the role of warriors and warfare in Wari culture," says Glowacki, principal investigator of Earthwatch's Archaeology of Peru's Wari Empire expedition. Volunteers may join Glowacki to help unearth more of cemetery this summer on the expedition. "I hope to be able to find the edges of the cemetery. We think we know where the center is, but don't know how far it goes," says Glowacki.

In addition to the trophy skull, the excavation teams also found whole ceramic pots accompanying the tombs of women in other parts of the cemetery. The teams have only uncovered one definitive male in the cemetery, and Glowacki suspects that he was probably a guardian since his remains show many injuries and his stone-lined burial tomb was built into the cemetery wall. Some of the ceramic vessels were elaborately decorated with owls, which early historic records indicate were the alter ego of female shamans elsewhere in Peru.

While another Wari cemetery was discovered some years ago nearby in Huaro, the burials at Cotocotuyoc are unique. The Cotocotuyoc cemetery demonstrates a very early Wari presence in the valley. Cotocotuyoc, which sits high above the Huaro Valley floor, is believed to have later served as a stronghold for the Wari as their political control weakened and the empire eventually collapsed.

Earthwatch Institute is a global volunteer organization that supports scientific research by offering members of the public unique opportunities to work alongside leading field scientists and researchers. Founded in 1971, Earthwatch's mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

These findings and others will be presented at a symposium entitled "The Wari and Their Descendants: Imperial Transformation in Cuzco, Peru," at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in Austin, Texas, in April 2007.

For more information on how to volunteer on Archaeology of Peru's Wari Empire, go to http://www.earthwatch.org/expeditions/glowacki.html
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Ancient towers in Peru were a 'solar calendar'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 02 March 2007

Scientists have discovered the oldest solar observatory in the Americas and, in the process, may have solved a centuries-old puzzle about the purpose of an ancient stone fort on a remote hilltop in Peru.

The researchers have shown that an enigmatic wall of 13 stone towers within the Chankillo complex, a 2,300-year-old ruin nearly 250 miles north of Lima, worked as a solar calendar to monitor the winter and summer solstices.

They believe that the solar observatory proves the existence of a sophisticated Sun cult in the region more than 1,000 years before the Inca civilisation built its famous Sun temple in the Peruvian mountain city of Cusco, prior to the Spanish conquest.

Ivan Ghezzi of the Pontificia Universiadad Catolica del Peru in Lima and Clive Ruggles of Leicester University have found that the line of 13 towers at Chankillo can be used to precisely observe the Sun as it rises and sets at different positions along the horizon throughout the year.

Historical accounts suggest that the Inca Sun pillars at Cusco - which have vanished without trace - were used until the 16th century AD to mark planting times of crops and to observe seasonal ceremonies, Ghezzi and Ruggles say in their study published today in the journal Science.

They believe that the discovery means that the massive Chankillo complex - dated to the 4th century BC - must have played an important role in the ceremonial rituals associated with the annual cycles of the Sun.

Archaeologists have puzzled over the purpose of Chankillo since it was first discovered in the 19th century. They suggested it may have been used as a fort, a temple or even a setting for ceremonial battles.

One of the biggest mysteries of Chankillo was the purpose of a low ridge composed of 16 relatively small stone towers which together formed an artificial toothed horizon for no apparent reason.

However, Ghezzi and Ruggles show that the gaps formed between the towers match the annual rising and setting arcs of the Sun while it dips below the horizon during the winter and summer solstices.

The line of towers, which range in height from about 6ft to 20ft, were built along a north-south axis and can be viewed full-on from two other stone positions, one to the east and one to the west of the ridge.

"Viewed from the two observing points, the spread of the towers along the horizon corresponds very closely to the range of movement of the rising and setting positions of the sun over the year," say Ghezzi and Ruggles in their study.

"This in itself argues strongly that the towers were used for solar observation," they say.

In their study, the scientists demonstrated that the setting sun at the winter solstice can be viewed from the eastern observation point as it falls to the left side of the southernmost tower.

Meanwhile, from the western observing point, the same midwinter sun the following morning could be viewed rising from the last tower on the right of the observer. During the course of the year, the setting and rising sun moves through the different "teeth" of the artificial horizon until finally it reaches its next furthermost point at the summer solstice in June - when it can be observed rising and setting beyond the last tower to the north.

"The towers are relatively well preserved; their corners have mostly collapsed, but enough of the original architecture survives to allow a reconstruction," the researchers say.

The towers are regularly spaced and each has a pair of stone staircases leading up to the summit, one on the north and one on the south side.

"Most of the tower summits are well preserved; no artifacts remain on these surfaces, though it is clear from the staircases that the summits were the foci of activity," they say.

Archaeologists have found evidence to suggest that the ceremonial practices took place at the two observing positions. The western point has offerings of pottery, shells and lithic artifacts whereas the eastern site was probably a site of ceremonial feasting, the scientists said.

The gaps between the towers may have been used to mark out the days of a solar calendar. For instance, the sunrises between the gaps in the central towers are separated by a time interval of 10 days, implying that a 10-day "week" may have been important in the solar calendar.

"Once the Sun had begun to move appreciably away from either of its extreme positions a few days after each solstice, the various towers and gaps would have provided a means to track the progress of the Sun up and down the horizon to within an accuracy of two or three days," say Ghezzi and Ruggles in their research.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/ame ... 318720.ece
Last edited by a moderator:
Llama dung mites track Inca fall
By Christine McGourty
BBC science correspondent

The abundance of mite fossils reflects past livestock populations

Enlarge Image

Scientists believe they have found a new way to track the rise and fall of some ancient civilisations - by studying fossilised mites that thrive in the dung of their livestock.

A team from America, France and Britain have been studying mites from the soil in the Andes in Peru and say the tiny creatures can provide clues to changing patterns of trade and of disease epidemics through history.

The researchers made the discovery, announced in the Journal of Archaeological Science, while studying mud cores from a lake near the town of Cuzco, the heart of the former Inca Empire.

Dr Mick Frogley, of Sussex University, UK, said: "We were looking at the lake sediments for evidence of climate change, but we found so many of these mites it piqued our interest."

The tiny bugs - not much more than a millimetre across - are related to domestic dust mites often found in carpets or mattresses.

Some species live exclusively in moist grassland and pastures where they break down vegetable matter, including the droppings of grazing animals.

When the scientists started to record the numbers of mites, they obtained a plot with a very distinctive pattern.

Spanish signature

"It couldn't have been better if we'd made it up," Dr Frogley told BBC News. "It was that good."

They found a huge increase in the number of fossil mites as the empire expanded from the Cuzco area in the early 1400s. A sudden drop in numbers corresponded with the collapse of the native population after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

The researchers cored for the mites in old sediments

Enlarge Image

Historical accounts from the time also document that two-thirds of the llamas in the Cuzco area died of skin diseases.

Studying ancient civilisations can be difficult when they have left no detailed written records behind. But the researchers say they now have a new tool for examining the fortunes of native populations in the Andes.

The mite methodology could have more wide-ranging applications in the study of economic and social changes in other cultures through history.

"The Inca were a test-bed," said Dr Frogley. "Now, the findings have given us confidence to look further back into the past at civilisations that pre-date the Inca.

"A lot less is known about their economic and social structures and why these other cultures disappeared from the archaeological record. The technique could help find some answers."

He said it could also be used to study the Viking occupation of Greenland, which was also an animal-based economy.

Fire burns ancient sites near Peru's Machu Picchu
http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre48n ... eru-fire/#

LIMA, Sep. 24, 2008 (Reuters) — A forest fire has damaged two archeological sites in the valley between the Peruvian city of Cuzco and the ancient Incan fortress of Machu Picchu, Peru's national institute of culture said on Wednesday.

At least 600 firefighters are battling the blaze high in the Andes mountains. They have brought the fire under control at times, only to see it whipped up again by winds.

Two ancient sites, Wayna Q'ente and Torontoy, were hit by flames, though the government did not say how extensive the damage was.

At one point, the fire threatened a train line that runs to Machu Picchu, but the popular tourist attraction remains open, along with the Incan trails used by hikers.

Farmers in the area, which contains dozens of ancient ruins, often set fires to help clear land.

(Reporting by Carlos Valdez; Writing by Terry Wade; Editing by Chris Wilson)
"Spider God" Temple Found in Peru
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... 41026.html
José Orozco in Caracas, Venezuela
for National Geographic News
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. (Watch a video of the spider-god temple.)

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 Sipán 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 Ventarrón site in the valley. Both the temple and mural were the oldest ever found in the Americas.

The entire religious complex houses every ancient Peruvian architectural style up to the Inca, Walter Alva said, one of only a few sites in Peru that spans so many cultures.

Several Meanings

The spider-god image appears often in other sites created during Peru's Early Formative Period, 1200 to 400 B.C.

For instance, the Garagay temple in Lima and the Limón Carro site in northern Peru both include the imagery, according to Ignacio Alva, Walter Alva's son and colleague.

At the newfound Collud, the spider god carried several meanings, experts say.

The image combines a spider's neck and head, the mouth of a large cat, and a bird's beak, Ignacio Alva said.

The spider is also carved with lines radiating from its neck, creating a web-like appearance.

The web symbolizes hunting nets, a sign of human progress and prosperity, Ignacio Alva said. Traps set with nets caught more prey than spear hunting, he added.

The spider figure also had political significance, Ignacio Alva said. "Any emergent political group would have to be associated with this god."

Richard Burger, an expert on the Chavin culture that followed the Cupisnique, first identified the spider deity in stone bowls found at the Limón Carro site.

The importance of spiders owed partly to their connection with life-giving rain, he said.

"They were associated with divination of rainfall because spiders come out before rain," said Burger, an archaeologist at Yale University who was not involved with the Lambayeque excavation.

The spider deity was also associated with textiles, hunting, war, and power, Burger added. "There is an image of spider deities holding nets filled with decapitated human heads, so there was an analogy with successful warriors and claims of power."

(Related: 80 Ancient 'Cloud Warrior' Skeletons Found in Peru Fort" [September 26, 2007].)

Intense Interaction

The Chavin people who came after the Cupisnique built a temple adjacent to Collud, Zarpan, about three hundred years later.

The new temple finds may help explain a cultural shift from Cupisnique to Chavin, said team leader Walter Alva.

"Cupisnique and Chavin shared the same gods and the same architectural and artistic forms, showing intense religious interaction among the cultures of the [Early] Formative Period from the north coast to the Andes and down to the central Andes," he said.

The temples are similar in size, roughly 1,640 feet (500 meters) long and 984 feet (300 meters) wide.

Collud has a monumental clay staircase with 25 steps, perhaps the inspiration for the later Zarpan temple's clay staircase, Ignacio Alva said.

The Chavin did not build clay structures in the Andes, where significant rainfall threatened their stability. (See Andes photos.)

But clay structures were typical of the Cupisnique culture, which developed on the arid north coast.

It's unknown how the two cultures interacted, if at all, experts say.

"This place is the testimony of two cultures overlapping and will help clarify what is Cupisnique and what is Chavin," Walter Alva said.

Mystery Decline

Pieces of structures found at the site may lead to the discovery of a fourth or fifth temple, according to the team.

(See photos of an ancient "fire temple" found in Peru.)

Yale's Burger wonders if the ongoing excavations will demonstrate what happened to the site as north-coast cultures declined between 900 and 700 B.C.

"The far north coast in earlier times was very important, but it has been largely ignored because there's so little information," Burger said. "This could change that."

"Does this center continue to be important or does it collapse?" he asked. "Does the Cupisnique continue to flourish independently or in close contact with the Chavin?"

Ignacio Alva predicts the site will show that the temple complex transformed itself, but did not collapse.
Expedition uncovers ancient citadel in Peruvian jungle

Mummies of the Chachapoyas culture are on display at the Museum of the Nation, in Lima in 2007. A team of archaeologists on Tuesday announced they had discovered a fortified citadel in the remote Amazonian rainforest of northeast Peru that appears to be from the pre-Inca era.

A team of archaeologists on Tuesday announced they had discovered a fortified citadel in the remote Amazonian rainforest of northeast Peru that appears to be from the pre-Inca era.

The main encampment comprises circular stone houses overgrown by lush jungle over an area of five hectares (12 acres), said archaeologist Benedict Goicochea Perez, quoted by the official Andina news agency.

The citadel sits atop a chasm that the former inhabitants may have used as a lookout to spy on approaching enemies, said Goicochea Perez.

Rock paintings cover some of the fortifications, and next to the dwellings are large platforms believed to have been used to grind seeds and wild plants for food and medicine, he said.

The citadel is tucked away in the remote Jamalca district of Utcubamba province, part of the northern Amazonas department, said Jamalca Mayor Ricardo Cabrera Bravo, who had joined the expedition.

The area, about 800 kilometers (497 miles) northeast of Lima, is famed for its vast, isolated natural beauty, surrounded by verdant foliage and soaring waterfalls, said Cabrera Bravo.

The citadel likely belonged to the Chachapoyas civilization -- an ancient people whose glory days over a thousand years ago pre-date the hegemony of the powerful Incas.

The Chachapoyas culture (known as the Cloud Forest people) also built the imposing Kuelap fortress atop a mountain in Utcubamba, which can only be compared in scale to the Inca's Machu Picchu retreat, built hundreds of years later.
Archeologists in Peru unearth ancient Wari city
http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre4bf ... cheology/#
By Dana Ford

LIMA, Dec. 16, 2008 (Reuters) — Researchers digging at the Cerro Patapo archeological site in northern Peru have discovered the ruins of an entire city, which may provide the "missing link" between two ancient cultures, investigators said on Tuesday.

Scientists say the find, located 14 miles from the Pacific coast city of Chiclayo, likely dates to the Wari culture, which existed in what is now Peru between about 600 AD and 1100 AD.

If initial assumptions prove correct, the discovery would connect the ancient Wari civilization to the Moche culture, which flourished from about 100 AD to 600 AD.

Researchers say the buried city includes ceramics, bits of clothing and the well-preserved remains of a young woman.

The sprawling site, which stretches over 3 miles, also shows evidence of human sacrifice, with special spots designated for the purpose and a heap of bones at the bottom of a nearby cliff.

"It provides the missing link because it explains how the Wari people allowed for the continuation of culture after the Moche," Cesar Soriano, chief archeologist on the project, told Reuters.

He said the discovery provides the first evidence of Wari culture, which expanded from the country's south, at the northern site.

The Wari people made their capital near modern-day Ayacucho, in the Andes, but traveled widely and are known for their extensive network of roads. Earlier this year, archeologists at the Huaca Pucllana ruins in Lima, located some 500 miles south of Chiclayo, discovered a mummy that is also thought to be Wari.

Peru is a country rich in archeological treasures. It has hundreds of sites that date back thousands of years and span dozens of cultures, including the Incan empire that was in power when Spanish explorers arrived in the early 1500s.

(Editing by Terry Wade and Eric Walsh)
Peru archaeologists find pre-Inca remains
July 21st, 2010 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

File image of a pre-Columbian Sican shrine in the coastal province of Lambayeque, in Peru. Peruvian archaeologists have found remains from a person believed to be a leader of the Sican, a key pre-Inca civilization that is more than 1,200 years old, one of the researchers said.

Peruvian archaeologists have found remains from a person believed to be a leader of a key pre-Inca civilization that is more than 1,200 years old, one of the researchers said.

Carlos Elera told AFP the remains from the northern region of Lambayeque are from what some call the Sican culture that flourished in the area between around 700 and 1375 AD.

He said among the remains found two weeks ago in the archaeological complex Las Ventanas is a type of sarcophagus for an adult with a headdress and a feathered eye mask, which are "characteristic of the nobles of the Sican culture."

The researcher also said that objects found included a ceremonial knife, ceramics, textiles with copper plates.

Elera reported that since April when the research began at Las Ventanas, the remains of about 20 people have been found in good condition.

Among them were remains of a child of three to four years old believed to be from between 1100 and 1150 AD.

Sican culture emerged around the years 700-750 AD and remained in force until 1375, recording its apogee stage between 900 and 1100.

Researchers believe the culture flourished for around 200 years under seven to eight "lords of Sican" and then vanished after the Chimu conquest of the Lambayeque region around 1375 AD, a group that also preceded the Incas.
Peru: 'sensational' Inca find for British team in Andes
Discovery of sacred ancestor stones has archaeologists 'dancing a jig'
Dalya Alberge The Observer, Sunday 5 December 2010

A British team of archaeologists on expedition in the Peruvian Andes has hailed as "sensational" the discovery of some of the most sacred objects in the Inca civilisation – three "ancestor stones", which were once believed to form a precious link between the heavens and the underworld.

The find, which was made on an isolated Andean mountainside, provoked joy among local specialists and the experts present from, among others, the British Museum, Reading University and Royal Holloway, University of London. No examples of the stones were thought to have survived until now.

"It was a very moving moment," said Dr Colin McEwan, the British Museum's head of the Americas, as he recalled seeing the stones for the first time.

Dr Frank Meddens, research associate of Royal Holloway, who was also on the expedition, said they had "danced a little jig on top of the mountain" after discovering the objects that they had only read about in 16th-century Spanish documents. :)

The Incas would have been just as overawed. The conical-shaped stones were among the most significant items in Inca society and religion. Key elements in ritual events, they were thought to facilitate a connection between different realms of the world – the celestial and the underworld of the ancestors – with the Inca king, as the divine ruler, acting as intermediary. And they were considered more precious than gold.

"This is a whole new category of object. It is nothing short of sensational," said McEwan of the three stones in red and white Andesite, a hard, granite-like rock, which were excavated some 2.5 metres beneath an Inca stone platform. The platform too was recently excavated and is a structure of distinctive stonework that once symbolised the imperial control of conquered territories.

The site – at Incapirca Waminan – is one of 20 undocumented high-altitude Inca ceremonial platforms explored by the archaeologists around the Ayacucho basin. Such sites were potent imperial symbols of religious and political authority as the Incas expanded outwards from Cuzco, a sacred city of temples and palaces in the central Peruvian Andes.

Ancestor stones represented deities, ancestors and the sun, and were imbued with supreme symbolic significance. They were greeted with incomprehension by Spanish chroniclers of the early 16th century, who sacrilegiously likened their shape to sugar loaves, pineapples and bowling pins. The insult, however, was returned: when the 16th-century Inca ruler Atahualpa was shown a copy of the Bible by the Conquistadors, he reacted with similar contempt.

According to Spanish sources, the stones were used in public solar rituals, sometimes draped in gold cloth and paraded. One witness wrote: "The stones… were held to be blessed and sacred."

Symbols of the ancestral essence of the Inca king, the objects were placed on display when the supreme leader was absent from Cuzco, the capital of the Inca people, in an attempt to demonstrate the perpetual presence and his power. The Incas believed their king to be a living god who ruled by divine right.

As the Incas had no system of writing, the significance of the archaeologists' unprecedented find is reinforced by the identification of ancestor stones in the decoration of a unique 16th-century Inca vessel (cocha) in the British Museum. Spanning 50cm in diameter, it bears a carved scene showing a central solar disc and two kneeling figures with their hands clasped as they honour an ancestor stone. They are flanked on either side by an Inca king and queen and high-ranking lords.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/de ... ones-andes
Peru archaeologists find pre-Inca sacrificed babies

The bodies were found on the shores of Lake Umayo in Puno province

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Researchers at the Sillustani archaeological site in Peru say they have found the bodies of 44 children thought to have been sacrificed between 600 and 700 years ago.

They were buried in pairs in baskets placed around stone funerary towers.

Researchers said their ages ranged from newborns to three years old.

The archaeologists believe they belonged to the Kolla culture, which ruled parts of the Puno region of southern Peru between 1200 and 1450.

All the bodies had a volcanic stone placed on their chest, and were surrounded by a variety of offerings, including animals, food, dishes and pitchers, archaeologist Eduardo Arisaca said.

Researchers at the site say ceramics with paintings of scenes of war found with the bodies suggest the children were sacrificed during a period of conflict between the Kolla and a rival culture.

They said the bodies were found near a 10m-tall (32ft) circular stone tower known as Chullpa Lagarto.

The bodies of some 200 people have been unearthed near the tower at the Sillustani site some 1,300km (800 miles) south-east of the capital, Lima.

Edit to amend title.
Study suggests ancient Peruvians 'ate popcorn'

The research indicates ancient Peruvians ate popcorn

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Pre-Inca sacrificed babies found
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A new study suggests that people living along the coast of northern Peru were eating popcorn 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Researchers say corncobs found at an ancient site in Peru suggest that the inhabitants used them for making flour and popcorn.

Scientists from Washington's Natural History Museum say the oldest corncobs they found dated from 4700BC.

They are the earliest ever discovered in South America.

Ancient food

The curator of New World archaeology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, Dolores Piperno, says maize was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass.

Ms Piperno says that her team's research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that only a few thousand years later maize arrived in South America, where it evolved into different varieties now common in the Andean regions.

Her team discovered the maize in the archaeological sites of Paredones and Huaca Prieta.

"This evidence further indicated that in many areas corn arrived before pots did, and that early experimentation with corn as a food was not dependent on the presence of pottery," Ms Piperno explained.

She says that at the time, though, maize was not yet an important part of their diet.
...and did they have drive-in cinemas? ;)
Audio at the link.

Haunting Sounds at an Ancient Peruvian Site
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2 ... tml?ref=hp
by Dan Ferber on 16 February 2012, 10:27 PM

Ancient sounds. The central corridor at Chavín de Huantar creates special acoustical effects.
Credit: Miriam Kolar

The haunting sound of Chavín conch shell trumpets
play stop mute

VANCOUVER, CANADA—More than 3 millennia ago, ancient people flocked to Chavín de Huantar, a village in a high valley in the Peruvian Andes, to hear the oracles speak. And indeed they spoke—in the voice of resonant conch shell trumpets, and with the help of some clever architectural design, according to findings presented here today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW). The research suggests that the Chavín culture—and perhaps other ancient cultures—knew acoustic tricks that might be the envy of a modern concert hall engineer.

Chavín de Huantar consists of terraces, squares, ornate megaliths, and a temple, and there’s abundant evidence that it was used for religious ceremonies. The site also contains bas-relief sculptures sporting powerful animal imagery, including jaguars, condors, and snakes; images of hallucinogenic plants; and artifacts of the tools used to prepare them for consumption.

Chavín de Huantar is particularly well suited to the study of ancient uses of sound, says Miriam Kolar, an archeoacoustics researcher at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. That’s because the interior architecture contains elaborate, multilevel mazes with long corridors and staircases that affect acoustics today and are well enough preserved to detect what the original residents must have heard. What’s more, ancient conch shell trumpets have been excavated in the village; when blown into, the shells make a haunting, warbling sound, and fossil conch shells are embedded in stones on the floor of the temple. Kolar played a recording of the conch shell trumpet at the meeting. “It’s not very imposing over loudspeakers,” she said. “But in person it rattles your bones.”

In the 1970s, a Peruvian archeologist had identified a large canal at Chavín de Huantar with built-in terraces, which he proposed were built to create sound from water rushing over edge. Kolar and her colleagues suspected that other parts of the site might have been designed and built to create certain sound effects. Sure enough, a long, narrow central passageway grew narrower, a design that ensured that the sound of conch shell trumpets called pututus, but not other sounds, propagates from the interior passages of the temple to the outside. The researchers suspect that a priest would call to the oracle in full view of the assembled crowd, and the haunting sound of a pututu would emerge, thanks to someone playing the conch shell instrument inside the structure. Indeed, in acoustical terms, the corridors serve as so-called wave guides, which guide sound waves farther than they’d otherwise travel, Kolar said.

To test the idea that the builders of the temple had a sophisticated understanding of acoustics, Kolar and her colleagues placed archeological staff—professors, graduate students, or their Peruvian colleagues—at different locations in the narrow, mazelike passageways inside the temple, played sounds from loudspeakers located at various points in the maze, and asked the volunteers where the sound was coming from. The design of the maze misled people about the true location of the sound source, which may have added to the numinous atmosphere the builders intended. These results added more evidence that the ceremonial center at Chauvin de Huantar was designed with acoustics in mind.

“She has good evidence to show that [the acoustic design] was purposefully done, says Steven Waller, an independent scholar in La Mesa, California, who has investigated the acoustics of ancient ceremonial caves, and who presented evidence at the session showing that Stonehenge and other stone circles in the British Isles were designed with acoustics in mind. What the results do, he adds, “is show that all archeological sites have the potential for acoustic effects, so we should preserve soundscapes of these sites in case they’re important.”
Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 112209.htm

The El Paraíso condor lines up with this stone sculpted to resemble a condor head. Stone condors are common in the Andes; this is the first one found on the coast. Viewed from the entrance to a 4,000 year old temple at the site, the sun rises over this pillar during the equinox. (Credit: Google Earth Pro)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2012) — For more than a century and a half, scientists and tourists have visited massive animal-shaped mounds, such as Serpent Mound in Ohio, created by the indigenous people of North America. But few animal effigy mounds had been found in South America until University of Missouri anthropology professor emeritus Robert Benfer identified numerous earthen animals rising above the coastal plains of Peru, a region already renowned for the Nazca lines, the ruined city of Chan Chan, and other cultural treasures.

"The mounds will draw tourists, one day," Benfer said. "Some of them are more than 4,000 years old. Compare that to the effigy mounds of North America, which date to between 400 and 1200 AD. The oldest Peruvian mounds were being built at the same time as the pyramids in Egypt."

Benfer identified the mounds, which range from five meters (16.5 feet) to 400 meters (1,312 feet) long in each of the six valleys he surveyed in coastal Peru. The mounds pre-date ceramics and were probably built using woven baskets to carry and pile up rock and soil.

Like the Nazca lines, which include a series of giant animal outlines drawn on the ground to the south, the animal mounds were best observed from a higher vantage point. Google Earth images of the mounds revealed the shapes of birds, including a giant condor, a 5,000 year-old orca, a duck, and a caiman/puma monster seen in bone and rock carvings from the area.

"The finding of animal effigy mounds where there were none before changes our conception of early Peruvian prehistory," Benfer said. "That they probably represent the Andean zodiac is also a new find. A controversial interpretation of some Nazca figures as representations of the zodiac is supported by these mounds."

Benfer suggested the structures may have been built as terrestrial manifestations of constellations the ancient Peruvians saw in the stars above. The mounds not only represented the stars, they aligned with them. So far, Benfer has found astronomical orientations at every giant mound.

For example, at the Chillón Valley site, an earthen condor's charcoal eye lined up with the Milky Way when viewed from a nearby temple. The monstrous caiman/puma mound aligned with the June summer solstice when viewed from the same temple.

According to Benfer, astronomer priests may have made directed construction of the mounds and then made observations of the sky and offerings to Earth from atop the earthen creatures. For the ancients, having a celestial calendar allowed farmers and fisherman to prepare for the year ahead.

"For example, knowing that December 21 had passed was very important. If there was no sign of an El Niño by then, fishers would know they would have another good year, and farmers would face neither drought nor floods," Benfer said.

Previously, the only other effigy mounds known from South America were a few sites in the Andes, but Benfer's discoveries may be just the beginning.

"In each field season, I have found more giant mounds and more fields of smaller ones. I will go back in June and July confident of identifying more on the ground," Benfer said.

Although they appear to be plentiful, researchers overlooked the animal effigies since the first days of scientific archeology in Peru.

"I had always noted that a very large structure just north of Lima resembled a bird. But since there were supposedly no giant animal effigy mounds in South America, I thought it couldn't be one," Benfer said.

Then, two years ago, while studying satellite views of archeological sites, Benfer noticed what looked like teeth on one of the mounds north of Lima. The jagged teeth-like structures had been misidentified as irrigation canals. But after a ground survey of the area, he realized he was standing atop the caiman/puma monster of Chillón Valley. He soon found the nearby condor mound and went on to identify numerous other earthen animal effigies.

The results of Benfer's work were published in the journal Antiquity. The Curtiss and Mary G. Brennan Foundation supported his work as did the research board of the University of Missouri. The Museum of Anthropology and Pre-Columbian Agriculture of the National Agricultural University of Peru provided laboratory and technical support. The field team of Bernardino Ojeda, Omar Ventocilla, Andrés Ocas, and Lucio Laura produced maps and valuable observations.

Although retired, Benfer continues field research in Peru and Mexico. His work today focuses on the intersection of astronomy and archeology, particularly alignments between celestial events and religious structures.

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

Robert A. Benfer. Giant Preceramic animal effigy mounds in South America? Antiquity, 2011 [link]
Ecuador seeks answer to riddle of Inca emperor's tomb
By Irene Caselli
Malqui-Machay, Ecuador

Does the final resting place of Inca Emperor Atahualpa lie here?

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The mystery surrounding the tomb of the last Inca emperor - and its reputed treasure - might be closer to being solved.

If Ecuadorean historian Tamara Estupinan is right, Emperor Atahualpa's mummified body was kept in the lush, hilly lowlands, a six-hour drive south-west of Ecuador's capital city, Quito.

While it is still too early to confirm Ms Estupinan's theory, this discovery could shed light on a tumultuous historical period that marked the beginning of the Spanish colonial era in the Americas.

At its height, in the early 1500s, the Inca empire covered most of the Andes, from southern Colombia to central Chile as well as some parts of Argentina.

Inca emperors were mummified because it was believed that their powers remained within their bodies, which were guarded by guards and family members.

Atahualpa governed out of Quito during a civil war against his brother, who was based in Cusco, the seat of the Inca empire.

Some 40 years after the death of Atahualpa the Inca empire had fallen
Shortly after defeating his brother, Atahualpa was captured by Spanish troops under Francisco Pizarro.

It is believed that Atahualpa offered to fill a large room with gold and silver in exchange for his life. The offer did not work - he was executed in 1533.

End of an era
The Inca empire began to fall apart after his death, leaving only pockets of resistance against the Spanish conquerors.

Archaeologists and historians have questioned whether his body remained in Cajamarca, the city in northern Peru where he died. No tomb was ever found.

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But Ms Estupinan, a researcher at the French Institute for Andean Studies (IFEA), says historical texts contain clues that indicate that the Inca emperor's final resting place was in what is now Ecuadorean territory.

The historian's work focused on Ruminahui, one of Atahualpa's most loyal generals who led a revolt against the Spanish conquerors after the emperor's death.

During her research, which lasted more than a decade, Ms Estupinan came across evidence that suggested that the Sigchos area in Ecuador's Andes became a base for Ruminahui and his men.

She started looking for locations whose names were connected to sacred rituals.

In 2004 she came across a small farm named Malqui - a word that means "mummy" in Quechua, the language spoken by the Incas.

The shape of the stones suggest a link with the Inca tradition
Polished stone walls and a subterranean water canal indicated the Inca origin of the site.

Six years later, Ms Estupinan led a new expedition some 4km (2.5 miles) from Malqui.

"When we arrived here, I could not believe it," said Ms Estupinan during a recent visit to the site, known as Machay (a Quechua word meaning burial).

A trapezoidal enclosure leading to rectangular rooms that were built with cut polished stone led Ms Estupinan to think that she had reached an Inca monument. The presence of trapezoidal underground water canals served as confirmation.

"I started running around," she says. "It was extremely exciting."

Ms Estupinan believes Malqui and Machay were part of an Inca settlement set up to hide Atahualpa's mummy and his possessions, which were traditionally buried with the emperor, from the Spanish conquistadors.

Machay is aligned with other sacred Inca sites, such as the Quilotoa lagoon, and is surrounded by the Machay River. Running water was important in sacred Inca places.

The site is 1km (3,280ft) above sea level, in the sub-tropical lowlands on the western slopes of the Andes.

Given the humidity, it is unlikely that remains of the mummy could be found intact almost 500 years later.

Excavation works are expected to start in June, partly financed by Ecuador's government, which plans to invest $97,500 (£60,000) in marking and protecting the site.

Historian Tamara Estupinan has been piecing together the evidence
"For now the government cannot yet say whether this is Atahualpa's grave," said Joaquin Moscoso, of the Heritage Ministry.

"If the historian's hypothesis is confirmed, we would be facing one of the largest and most unusual discoveries of the past decades."

Treasure trove 'unlikely'
Unlike in Peru, where much attention goes to Inca sites, such as world renowned Machu Picchu, Ecuador's archaeological ruins attract a limited number of tourists, and government spending is limited.

So far a police officer has been deployed to protect Machay from possible looters attracted by the legend of Atahualpa's treasure.

According to Ms Estupinan, it is unlikely that riches would be found.

"For the Incas, the real treasure was the mummy itself," she says.

Ms Estupinan also stresses that more attention should be placed on the site's conservation.

Pictures of Machay from the 1960s show clear deterioration of several walls.

The site was used to raise fighting cocks and to farm fish.

Machu Picchu, rediscovered in 1910, is now one of the "new" wonders of the world
This year's heavy rains have taken their toll, with the destruction of a large portion of a wall, says Ms Estupinan.

Francisco Moncayo, who owns the Machay site, says he is waiting for money from the municipality to help him keep the place in order.

He says the cost of maintaining the site runs to $3,000 (£1,800) a year.

Jorge Yarad, one of two owners at Malqui, says he feels honoured to be in an Inca site, but he is worried about looters.

"It is a great responsibility," he says.

Mr Yarad hopes the government will be able to buy the land to build an archaeological site that would become world renowned.

"We have been sleeping with history," says Mr Yarad. "And only now are we waking up."
Avoids the danger of giant snakes, angry tribes etc.

Drones map ancient Peruvian ruins

21:45 3 August 2012
Hal Hodson, technology reporter

For the past month, a lunch tray-sized aircraft has been skimming over Peruvian ruins snapping high-definition photos which are then stitched together to build a 3D map of the site.

The flyer is the brainchild of Steven Wernke and Julie Adams, archaeologist and roboticist respectively at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Wernke says that the craft will speed up site mapping drastically compared to traditional methods - a fiddly medley of theodolites, measuring tapes and photography which often requires repeat visits over two or three years during the dry season.

The Vanderbilt team is currently mapping the Peruvian ruins of Mawchu Llacta, an Inca settlement that was mysteriously abandoned in the 19th century. They plan to return next year to work out any kinks that crop up in the lab once they are back in Tennessee.

The flyer itself is a model from Aurora Flight Sciences called the Skate, kitted out with cameras and connected to a flight software system that determines the best flight patten in an area to be scanned, then lets the craft go to work without operator assistance. The whole setup fits in a backpack.

Although the drone will be mapping the site in 3D to a level of detail which Wenke says is better than "even the best satellite imagery", it won't be mapping the interior of the ruins.

To that end, Nadir Bagaveyev, a design engineer at XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, California recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to build a cheap laser radar (LiDAR) capable of being integrated into any robotics project and returning reliable three dimensional spatial coordinates.

More expensive LiDARs work by measuring the length of time it takes a laser signal to complete a round trip between the point of measurement and surrounding features, calculating distances by multiplying the measured time by the speed of light. Bagaveyev is planning to make his system cheaper by doing away with the high precision timing equipment, and instead measuring the angles and distances between laser spots that reflect off the drone's surroundings, calculating a distance using trigonometry.
newscientist.com/blogs/onepe ... an-ru.html
Link is dead. The MIA webpage (quoted in full above) can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:
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Peru archaeologists find ancient temple in El Paraiso

The temple was discovered in one of the wings of the main pyramid at the ancient site of El Paraiso

Archaeologists in Peru say they have discovered a temple at the ancient site of El Paraiso, near the capital, Lima.

Entry to the rectangular structure, estimated to be up to 5,000 years old, was via a narrow passageway, they say.

At its centre, the archaeologists from Peru's Ministry of Culture found a hearth which they believe was used to burn ceremonial offerings.

With 10 ruins, El Paraiso is one of the biggest archaeological sites in central Peru.

The archaeologists found the structure, measuring 6.82m by 8.04m (22ft by 26ft), in the right wing of the main pyramid.

'Interconnected civilisation'

They had been carrying out conservation work on the site on behalf of Peru's Ministry of Culture when they came across the remains, which had been obscured by sand and rocks.

The walls would have been 2.5m (8ft) high, but only about 70cm remain with the hearth at the centre
They said the temple walls were made of stone and covered in fine yellow clay which also contained some traces of red paint.

The archaeologists said the find suggests that the communities in the Late Pre-ceramic Age (3500 BC to 1800 BC) were more closely connected than had been previously thought.

Peru's Deputy Minister for Culture Rafael Varon said the the temple was the first structure of its kind to be found on Peru's central coast.

"It corroborates that the region around Lima was a focus for the civilisations of the Andean territory, further bolstering its religious, economic and political importance since times immemorial," Mr Varon said.

Archaeologist Marco Guillen, who led the team which made the discovery, said the hearth gave insight into the civilisation which had used the site.

"The main characteristic of their religion was the use of fire, which burnt in the centre," he told the BBC's Mattia Cabitza in Lima.

"The smoke allowed the priests to connect with their gods," Mr Guillen said.

The Paraiso settlement once supported a farming and fishing community numbering hundreds of people.

Our correspondent says thousands of ruins are thought to remain undiscovered, making Peru a treasure-hunting destination for archaeologists and looters alike.
Maize was key in early Andean civilisation, study shows
By Mark Kinver
Environment reporter, BBC News

Maize played a central role in the establishment of early Andean civilisations, say researchers

New evidence strengthens the argument that maize played an important role in ancient Peruvian civilisation 5,000 years ago, a study has said.

Samples taken from pollen records, stone tool residues and fossilised faeces suggest the food crop was actively grown, processed and eaten.

The authors say it adds more weight to the argument that Andean society was agricultural, not maritime-based.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"If you look at the origins of civilisations around the world - from Egypt to China and India - they are all based on agriculture," explained co-author Jonathan Haas from The Field Museum, Chicago.

However, he told BBC News that an idea emerged that Andean early civilisation was different, and evolved from exploiting marine resources.

Power struggle

He told BBC News: "That theory has now been the dominant theory since the mid-1970s but more data has become available saying that there are not just [coastal] sites but there are some big inland sites too.

"People started to find corn at the inland sites, and the argument was that the corn was really a condiment and used for ceremonial purposes.

An agricultural system would allow leaders to exert the power needed to develop complex societies
Dr Haas said that the findings from the team's study "topples that notion".

In their paper, the team explained that the first stage of identifying the botanical remains taken from the archaeological sites was the analysis of the macrobotanical (visible to the naked eye) artefacts.

"Analyses of hundreds of samples… revealed that macroscopic remains of maize - including kernels, leaves, stalks and cobs - were rare," they wrote.

They added that the reason for the lack of such samples at the sites has "yet to be resolved", but the lack of such remains could not be seen as evidence of the absence of maize.

"It is also possible that the lack of macroscopic remains is a reflection of limited excavations at these sites, given that the more extensive excavation of sites… did yield much more macroscopic evidence of maize."

Microscopic bounty

The team commented that the scarcity of macroscopic remains was in marked contrast to an abundance of microscopic evidence of maize in the guise of maize pollen samples collected from soil at the sites.

Although there was a possibility of contamination from modern sources, the team said that there were three factors that weighed against this.

"First, modern maize pollen grains are larger and turn red when stain is applied, whereas ancient grains do not," they said.

"Second, extraction of pollen samples followed standard archaeological guidelines and all crew members were trained in taking pollen samples.

"Third, the modern samples all contained pollen from a plant not found in the area prehistorically."

Dr Haas said that the pollen record gathered from the study sites was unequalled, with the data being accessed by other scientists in their research projects.

Other artefacts the team examined included 14 stone tools, which were radiocarbon-dated to between 2090 and 2540BC.

"Eleven of the 14 tools had predominantly or exclusively maize starch grains on the working surfaces, and two working surfaces had maize phytoliths (mineral excretions by the plant)," they recorded.

The researchers also found samples of sweet potato and bean starch grains.

The team also recovered 62 coprolites (fossilised faeces), of which 34 were human specimens.

They wrote that 69% of the specimens contained maize starch grains, the dominant source of starch in the diet at that time.

Dr Haas observed: "Maritime resources were important as it was their primary source of protein. But in each one of those coprolites, there was, on average, half an anchovy - that is not your diet, that is a condiment.

"In contrast, finding corn, beans, sweet potato and a number of other things in the diet - that is an agriculturally-based society."

He added that a vibrant agriculture system would result in a surplus of food, allowing the societal leaders to attract outsiders to the area and exert power.

The team wrote: "It was during this time that large permanent communities were settled, monumental architecture first appeared on the landscape, agriculture was more fully developed and indicators of a distinctive Andean religion are manifest in the archaeological record."