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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 19-02-2012 19:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

Audio at the link.

Haunting Sounds at an Ancient Peruvian Site
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.”
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PostPosted: 01-04-2012 22:05    Post subject: Reply with quote


Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru

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]
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PostPosted: 13-02-2013 14:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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PostPosted: 26-02-2013 14:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

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."
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PostPosted: 28-06-2013 07:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ancient Wari royal tomb unearthed in Peru

Archaeologists in Peru have unearthed a royal tomb with treasures and mummified women from about 1,200 years ago.
The discovery north of Lima could shed new light on the Wari empire, which ruled in the Andes before the rise of the better-known Inca civilisation.

More than 60 skeletons were inside the tomb, including three Wari queens buried with gold and silver jewellery and brilliantly-painted ceramics.
Many mummified bodies were found sitting upright - indicating royalty.

The archaeologists say the tomb was found in El Castillo de Huarmey, about 280km (175 miles) north of Lima.
"We have found for the first time in Peruvian archaeological history, an imperial tomb of the Wari culture," co-director of the project Milosz Giersz was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
"The contents of the chamber consisted of 63 human bodies, most of them women, wrapped in funerary bundles buried in the typical seated position, a native Wari pattern."

Forensic archaeologist Wieslaw Wieckowski says the way other bodies were positioned indicated human sacrifice.
"Six of the skeletons we found in the grave were not in the textiles. They were placed on the top of the other burials in very strange positions, so we believe that they were sacrifices," he said.

"The fact that most of the skeletons were of women and the very rich grave goods, leads us to the interpretation that this was a tomb of the royal elite and that also changes our point of view on the position of the women in the Wari culture."
The archaeologists spent months secretly digging through the burial chambers amid fears that grave robbers would find out and loot the site.

The Wari civilization thrived from the 7th to 10th centuries AD, conquering all of what is now Peru before a mysterious and dramatic decline.
The Wari people had their capital near the modern-day Ayacucho, in the Andes.

Wiki has several articles on the Wari, eg:
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PostPosted: 04-07-2013 15:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

oops :

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 civilisation.

Rafael Varon, deputy minister of cultural patrimony, said the destruction had taken place over the weekend. He said company workers using heavy machinery had attempted to destroy three further pyramids, but had been stopped by onlookers.

Mr Varon said criminal complaints had been lodged against two companies.

Marco Guilen, director of an excavation project at El Paraiso, told Associated Press news agency the people who tore down the pyramid "have committed irreparable damage to a page of Peruvian history".

"We are not going to be able to know in what ways it was constructed, what materials were used in it and how the society in that part of the pyramid behaved."
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PostPosted: 14-08-2013 12:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tomb of a Powerful Moche Priestess-Queen Found in Peru

Discovery helps change ideas about the roles of elite women in Moche society.

A Moche princess queen and her funerary mask.
A funerary mask of copper is uncovered near the priestess-queen's skull.

Photograph courtesy Luis Jaime Castillo Butters
A. R. Williams
National Geographic
Published August 8, 2013

Some 1,200 years ago, a prominent Moche woman was laid to rest with great pomp and ceremony. Now archaeologists have uncovered her tomb along with clues that testify to her privileged status and the power she once wielded.

The discovery—made over the last couple of weeks at the site of San José de Moro in the Jequetepeque River valley of northern Peru—is one of several that have revolutionized ideas about the roles women played in Moche society.

In about A.D. 750 this revered woman was buried in a large chamber some 20 feet (6 meters) beneath the ground. The earthen walls of her tomb were painted red, and large niches held offerings of ceramic vessels. Two adults, presumably sacrificed female attendants, were buried with her along with five children. (See video of a Moche tomb.)

Her skeleton rested on a low platform at one end of the chamber and was adorned very simply with a bead necklace of local stones. Beside her lay an important clue to her identity—the kind of tall silver goblet that appears in Moche art in scenes of human sacrifice and blood consumption. Such vessels have only been found previously in the tombs of powerful priestess-queens, so that was likely the role this woman played in life.

The elaborate decoration of the coffin is another clue that this was someone important. The box itself was probably made of wood or cane, which has long since decayed. Copper plaques once covered it, tracing out a typical Moche design of waves and steps that's now visible to one side of the skeleton where the wall of the collapsing coffin fell flat.

Near the skeleton's head lay a copper funerary mask, which probably sat atop the coffin originally. And at the foot of the burial lay two pieces of copper shaped like sandals. "The coffin was anthropomorphized," explains excavation director Luis Jaime Castillo Butters. "It became a person."

Coffin ornaments come to light beside the priestess-queen's skeleton.
Photograph courtesy Luis Jaime Castillo Butters

The coffin must have been part of the show of a public funeral, as with famous people today. The deceased probably ruled one of the Moche communities nearby. During her funeral, her coffin—with a face and feet that represented the person inside—was carried to its final resting place in a grand procession that included an honor guard of warriors and musicians who played rattles, drums, whistles, and trumpets.

This is the eighth elite female burial to be found since excavations began at San José de Moro in 1991. The accumulating evidence has convinced archaeologists that the site was an important ceremonial and pilgrimage center between A.D. 600 and 850, and that the priestess-queens who were buried there played a large role in governing the political and spiritual affairs of the region—a huge shift in thinking about the structure of Moche society.

"Twenty-five years ago we thought that power was monopolized by male warrior-priests," says Castillo Butters, a professor of archaeology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and a National Geographic grantee.

Back then experts were influenced by discoveries like the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, a ruler who died at the age of 30 in about A.D. 250, at the height of the early Moche culture. His body was adorned in gold and buried in an elaborate mausoleum that also held human sacrifices.

Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva described this figure as a supreme monarch in his story about the tomb and its artifacts in the October 1988 issue of National Geographic magazine: "Accepting homage and tribute, performing priestly duties himself, and standing confidently at the apex of the social pyramid with absolute power of life and death over his subjects, he must have seemed like a demigod."

Additional finds made in recent years, however, have put women at the top of the Moche power structure as well. A tattooed female mummy, for example, unearthed at the site of El Brujo in 2005, was buried with traditional symbols of power such as massive ceremonial war clubs and nose rings with fierce designs—men carrying war clubs or heads pecked by condors. She also wore tokens of great wealth, such as her 15 necklaces made of lapis lazuli, quartz crystal, silver, and a gold-copper alloy. The archaeologists who uncovered her believe she was likely a warrior queen.

At San José de Moro, the evidence uncovered year after year seemed to suggest that power in that area was exclusively in the hands of women.

But in 2009 the tomb of a priest came to light. He was about 45 years old when he died, and he was buried with ornaments of gold-plated copper, necklaces of semi-precious stones, and a crown colored with the green patina of aged copper. Near him lay the remains of five other people, probably sacrificed to accompany their lord in death.

This site, then, with its elite burials of both genders, suggests that men and women alike filled positions of power in the neighboring communities.

The Moche, it turns out, did not have a centralized society, as once believed. They were more a loosely affiliated group of communities, each with its own ways of doing things. In this valley, it's likely that women were in charge of many of the communities and men were in charge of others. Those roles also carried over into the great beyond.

"The Moche seem to have believed that the identities that gave prominence to these individuals in life were to be maintained after death," notes Castillo Butters. "Accordingly, they imbued their burials not only with symbols of religion and power, but [also] with the artifacts and costumes that allowed the priest and priestesses to continue performing their ritual roles in the afterlife."
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PostPosted: 16-10-2013 22:41    Post subject: Reply with quote


Wari, Predecessors of the Inca, Used Restraint to Reshape Human Landscape

This is an aerial view of Pikillacta, facing toward the Cusco Basin. (Credit: Department of Library Services, American Museum of Natural History)

Oct. 16, 2013 — The Wari, a complex civilization that preceded the Inca empire in pre-Columbia America, didn't rule solely by pillage, plunder and iron-fisted bureaucracy, a Dartmouth study finds. Instead, they started out by creating loosely administered colonies to expand trade, provide land for settlers and tap natural resources across much of the central Andes.

The results, which appear in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, shed new light on how early states evolved into empires in the region that became the Inca imperial heartland.

The study is the first large-scale look at the settlement patterns and power of the Wari civilization, which flourished from about AD 600-1000 in the Andean highlands, well before the Inca empire's 15th century rise. Relatively little is known about the Wari -- there are no historical documents and archaeologists are still debating their power and statecraft. Many scholars think the Wari established strong centralized control -- economic, political, cultural and military -- like their Inca successors to govern the majority of the far-flung populations living across the central Andes. But the Dartmouth study suggests that while the Wari had significant administrative power, they did not successfully transition most colonies into directly ruled provinces.

"The identification of limited Wari state power encourages a focus on colonization practices rather than an interpretation of strong provincial rule," says Professor Alan Covey, the study's lead author. "A 'colonization first' interpretation of early Wari expansion encourages the reconsideration of motivations for expansion, shifting from military conquest and economic exploitation of subject populations to issues such as demographic relief and strategic expansion of trade routes or natural resource access."

The results are based on a systematic inventory of archaeological surveys covering nearly 1,000 square miles and GIS analysis of more than 3,000 archaeological sites in and around Peru's Cusco Valley. The data indicate Wari power did not emanate continuously outward from Pikillacta, a key administrative center whose construction required a huge investment. Instead, the locations of Wari ceramics indicate a more uneven, indirect and limited influence even at the height of their power than traditional interpretations from excavations at Wari sites.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dartmouth College, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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

Journal Reference:

R. Alan Covey, Brian S. Bauer, Véronique Bélisle, Lia Tsesmeli. Regional perspectives on Wari state influence in Cusco, Peru (c. AD 600–1000). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 2013; 32 (4): 538 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2013.09.001
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