Category Archives: BOLIVIA

Archaeologists discover an underground pyramid in Bolivia

Archaeologists discover an underground pyramid in Bolivia

The government of Bolivia announced it will start exploratory excavations this year at the ancient fortress of Tiahuanaco after a buried pyramid was detected.

Excavations at the pyramid of Akapana, Tiahuanaco

Ludwing Cayo, director of the Tiahuanaco Archeological Research Center, told Efe that the formation is located in the area of Kantatallita, east of the Akapana pyramid.

In a presentation for the media, Cayo outlined a five-year for further research at Tiahuanaco, an archaeological site 71 kilometers (44 miles) west of La Paz that was the cradle of an ancient civilization predating the Incas.

The Akapana Pyramid Mound, Tiahuanaco, Bolivia

Excavations may start soon, depending on the timing of cooperation agreements with foreign universities and institutes to enroll more forensic archaeology experts in the effort, Cayo said.

Besides the pyramid, ground-penetrating radar has detected “a number of underground anomalies” that might be monoliths, but those findings require more detailed analysis.

Tiahuanaco was the capital of a pre-Columbian empire known as Tiwanaku that left a legacy of impressive stone monuments such as Kalasasaya, the semi-underground Template, sculptures of prominent figures, the Gate of the Sun, and ruins of palaces.

Bolivian researchers say Tiahuanaco began as an agricultural village around 1580 B.C. and grew to become an imperial state by A.D. 724, but was in decline by the late 12th century.

At its peak, the Tiwanaku realm occupied over 600,000 square kilometers (231,000 square miles).

Tiahuanaco has been a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site since 2000.

The Gateway of the Sun from the Tiwanku civilization in Bolivia.

It was the capital of an empire that extended into present-day Peru and Chile, flourishing from 300 to 1000 A.D., and is believed to be one of the most important cities of ancient America.  Andean legends claim the area around Lake Titicaca was the cradle of the first humans on Earth.

According to the myths, Lord Viracocha, the creator of all things, chose Tiahuanaco as the place of creation. It is unknown how old these ruins are, but some researchers suggest that they date to 14,000 years B.C.

Fox News Latino writes that at its height, the Tiwanaku realm covered 600,000 square kilometers (231,000 square miles), and “left a legacy of impressive stone monuments such as Kalasasaya, the semi-underground Template, sculptures of prominent figures, the Gate of the Sun and ruins of palaces.”

Previous excavations at the site have revealed substantial portions of the Akapana Pyramid Mound.

Previous excavations: Robotic exploration of a tunnel in the Akapana pyramid, June 13, 2006.

Archaeology’s InteractiveDig writes that in the ancient past there is evidence that the established infrastructure was razed and rebuilt by the inhabitants, and the city was abandoned.

Researchers say there was a sudden shift in 700 A.D. Previous monuments were torn down, and the blocks were used to build the Akapana Pyramid. However, by the time the city was abandoned, the project had still not been completed and laid unfinished.

10,800 Years Ago, Early Humans Planted Forest Islands in Amazonia’s Grasslands

10,800 Years Ago, Early Humans Planted Forest Islands in Amazonia’s Grasslands

Thousands of artificial forest islands were built by Amazon’s earliest human settlers as they tamed wild plants to produce food, a new study reveals.

The discovery of the mounds is the latest evidence to show the extensive impact people had on the area. From their arrival 10,000 years ago they transformed the landscape when they began cultivating manioc and squash.

This led to the creation of 4,700 of the forest islands in what is now Llanos de Moxos in northern Bolivia, the team has found.

10,800 Years Ago, Early Humans Planted Forest Islands in Amazonia's Grasslands
An aerial shot of the Llanos de Moxos region in South America shows the strangely isolated mounds of trees that grow among expansive grasslands. Scientists’ explanation for these islands: Ancient humans planted and cultivated crops, making them some of the oldest domesticated plants in history.

This savannah area floods from December to March and is extremely dry from July to October, but the mounds remain above the water level during the rainy season allowing trees to grow on them.

The mounds promoted landscape diversity, and show that small-scale communities began to shape the Amazon 8,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The research confirms this part of the Amazon is one of the earliest centres of plant domestication in the world.

Using microscopic plant silica bodies, called phytoliths, found well preserved in tropical forests, experts have documented the earliest evidence found in the Amazon of manioc -10,350 years ago, squash — 10,250 years ago, and maize — 6,850 years ago.

The plants grown on the forest islands were chosen because they were carbohydrate-rich and easy to cook, and they probably provided a considerable part of the calories consumed by the first inhabitants of the region, supplemented by fish and some meat.

The study, in the journal Nature, was conducted by Umberto Lombardo and Heinz Veit from the University of Bern, Jose Iriarte and Lautaro Hilbert from the University of Exeter, Javier Ruiz-Pérez from Pompeu Fabra University and José Capriles from Pennsylvania State University.

Umberto Lombardo, from the University of Bern, who is one of the researches involved in the study, sampling sediment cores in the Llanos de Moxos savannah.

The study involved an unprecedented large scale regional analysis of 61 archaeological sites, identified by remote sensing, now patches of forest surrounded by savannah. Samples were retrieved from 30 forest islands and archaeological excavations carried out in four of them.

Dr Lombardo said: “Archaeologists, geographers, and biologists have argued for many years that southwestern Amazonia was a probable centre of early plant domestication because many important cultivars like manioc, squash, peanuts and some varieties of chilli pepper and beans are genetically very close to wild plants living here.

However, until this recent study, the scientist had neither searched for nor excavated, old archaeological sites in this region that might document the pre-Columbian domestication of these globally important crops.”

Professor Iriarte said: “Genetic and archaeological evidence suggests there were at least four areas of the world where humans domesticated plants around 11,000 years ago, two in the Old World and two in the New World. This research helps us to prove South West Amazonia is likely the fifth.

“The evidence we have found shows the earliest inhabitants of the area were not just tropical hunter-gatherers, but colonizers who cultivated plants. This opens the door to suggest that they already ate a mixed diet when they arrived in the region.”

Forest islands are seen from above

Javier Ruiz-Pérez said: “Through an extensive archaeological survey including excavations and after analysing dozens of radiocarbon dates and phytolith samples, we demonstrated that pre-Columbian peoples adapted to and modified the seasonally flooded savannahs of south-western Amazonia by building thousands of mounds where to settle and by cultivating and even domesticating plants since the beginning of the Holocene.”

Wall In Bolivia Contains More Than 5,000 Dinosaur Footprints

Wall In Bolivia Contains More Than 5,000 Dinosaur Footprints

Cal Orko, an immense limestone slab 1.5 km (0.9 miles) long and over 100 meters high (328 ft), is situated 5 km (3 miles from downtown Sucre, Bolivia. Visitors will look through time on this steep face (72 degrees inclination) to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth more than 68 million years ago.

You will find 462 different dinosaur tracks from at least 8 different species at Cal Orko, totaling an astounding 5,055 individual dinosaur footprints. So how do thousands of dinosaur footprints come to be, on a seemingly vertical rock face hundreds of feet high? You’ll have to scroll down to find out. 

Cal Orko: A Paleontologist’s Dream… Inside a Quarry

 Believe it or not, Cal Orko is situated entirely within a limestone quarry owned by FANCESA, Bolivia’s National Cement Factory.

Located in the ‘El Molino’ formation, the sight of heavy mining machinery (one could argue they are today’s ‘land giants’) set against a backdrop of 68 million-year-old dinosaur footprints (Earth’s prehistoric ‘land giants’) creates an intriguing parallel.

Further up the hill is Parque Cretácico. Opened in 2006, the dinosaur museum features 24 life-sized dinosaur replicas, various exhibitions, and a viewing platform 150 meters (~500 ft) from the rock face. It’s from this vantage point that you truly grasp the sheer scale and magnitude of Cal Orko.

So Dinosaurs Can Climb Walls Now?

 Not quite. We’re looking at something 68 million years in the making. The footprints at this site were formed during the Maastrichtian age of the Cretaceous Period in the Mesozoic Era. As Ian Belcher of The Guardian explains:

“It was unique climate fluctuations that made the region a palaeontological honey pot. The creatures’ feet sank into the soft shoreline in warm damp weather, leaving marks that were solidified by later periods of drought. Wet weather then returned, sealing the prints below mud and sediment.

The wet-dry pattern was repeated seven times, preserving multiple layers of prints.

The cherry on the cake was added when tectonic activity pushed the flat ground up to a brilliant viewing angle – as if nature was aware of its tourism potential.”

Cal Orko is one of the few locations in the world where you will find a concentration of footprints from a wide variety of dinosaurs that lived at the end of the Cretaceous period. The sheer size, geological significance, biodiversity, and social behavior that can be studied here makes Cal Orko a special place.
Take the trail of Johnny Walker for example. Johnny Walker was the name given to a baby Tyrannosaurus rex whose 367 meters (~1200 ft) path can be traced and observed here.

Researchers in Bolivia find two skeletons with abnormally elongated skulls

Researchers in Bolivia find two skeletons with abnormally elongated skulls

Two of them are of extreme interest since they display anomalous cranial deformation: freakishly large, elongated skulls.

According to researchers one of the skeletons had an elongated head that exceeds the proportions of an artificial cranial deformation, raising the question: what could have caused such a typical feature?

Finnish archaeologists working near the village of Patapatani in Bolivia, recently found the remains of at least six individuals buried under an Aymara funerary tower which was built, thousands of years ago for people of royal status in the ancestral culture.

Interestingly two of the skeletons were of particular interest. One of the skeletons belonged to a woman and the other one of her baby, nothing out of the ordinary other than the fact that both of them had freakishly large elongated heads that were not the result of cranial deformation.

One of the aptest researchers to look into this strange phenomenon is without a doubt Brien Foerster, best known for his extensive research on the (in)famous Paracas skulls.

Brien Foerster recently took a trip to the Patapatani museum where researchers transferred the skeletons that were unearthed.

In his journey, Brien Foerster was accompanied by an American radiologist and expert in human anatomy and Bolivian researcher and author Antonio Portugal.

According to experts, based on the shape of the pelvis, the skeleton we see in the images belongs to a young woman who died in her preadolescence.

The young girl had an elongated head that exceeds the proportions of an artificial cranial deformation, raising the question of what could have caused such typical features?

In addition to the skeleton of the young girl, the fetus found in the tomb is believed to have died between nine and seven months into development. It is likely that the fetus died with the mother during birth.

In his website Brien Foerster points out that if this proves to be the case, it is very likely that the baby would have been born with an elongated skull as well, meaning that both the mother and the fetus had similar conditions.

Brien Foerster points out that the ramifications are enormous since it means that we are possibly looking at a subspecies of ancient humans that died out thousands of years ago.

Elongated skulls have been found all around the globe and are not an isolated phenomenon of the Americas.

Among the most fascinating examples of elongated skulls are to so-called Paracas skulls discovered in the Pisco Province in the Inca Region on the Southern coast of Peru.

Interestingly, the cranium of the Paracas skulls is are at least 25 % larger and up to 60% heavier than the skulls of regular human beings. But not only are they different in weight, but the Paracas skulls are also structurally different and only have one parietal plate while ordinary humans have two.

Early Agricultural Hotspot Found in Amazonia

Evidence of 10,000-Year-Old Crops Points to the Amazon as an Early Agricultural Hotspot

Archaeologists have identified four independent regions where humans first started growing crops: China, the Middle East, Mesoamerica, and the Andes. We can now add Southwestern Amazon to this exclusive list, due to new evidence of plant cultivation in the region.

One of the 6,643 forest islands identified in the new study.

Foods made from pumpkin and cassava, a carbohydrate-rich root vegetable, were consumed in the Amazon over 10,000 years ago, according to new research published today in Nature. That’s quite a problem, just considering that four other early agricultural hotspots previously known.

At the beginning of the Holocene, and when the last ice age disappeared from the rearview mirror of mankind, rice appeared in China, grains, and legumes in the Middle East, beans and pumpkin in Mesoamerica, and potatoes and Quinoa in the Andes. The new research, led by Umberto Lombard from the University of Bern in Switzerland, points to a fifth early agricultural hot spot: southwestern Amazon, in what is now Bolivia.

“This is a very important contribution to the archeology of the Amazon and South America,” said Jennifer Watling, a microbotanist and archaeologist from the University of São Paulo who was not involved in the new study. It has long been debated whether the first people who inhabited the humid tropics already knew how to grow plants. This study provides on-site evidence that they have done that, at least in southwest Amazon, “she told Gizmodo.

The new evidence shows that some of the first people to arrive in the Amazon quickly took advantage of the natural resources available to them. Scientists aren’t entirely sure when humans first migrated to South America, but archaeological evidence suggests it was one as long 14,600 to 15,600 years ago. That person settled in the Amazon 10,000 years ago is hardly a stretch.

The new evidence was found in Llanos de Moxos, an Amazonian savanna in northeastern Bolivia. Covering an area of ​​126,000 square kilometers (48,700 square miles), Llanos de Moxos is peppered with unusual features all of which potential evidence of prehistoric human activity, including elevated fields, mounds, canals, and forest islands. These ‘islands’ are small, slightly elevated areas with dense tree growth around them through plains. For the new study, Lombard and his colleagues focused on the forest islands, looking for signs of early cultivation.

Using remote sensing tools, the team brought the Surface from above and identified 6,643 individual forest islands ranging in size from 0.05 hectares to 16 hectares (0.12 to 40 hectares). Of these, 30 were examined up close, in an archaeological technique known as an earthwork. These personal investigations revealed that many of these forest islands were likely former agricultural sites.

At these locations, the scientists dug and dug up sedimentary nuclei for analysis. This allowed them to perform carbon dating but it also gave access to phytoliths – silica-based particles that form in plants. The nice thing about phytolites is that they are formed according to the specific plant species in which they were formed, allowing the researchers to identify the exact crops on these forest islands.

First author Umberto Lombardo investigating sediment cores in the Llanos de Moxos.

“Although only 30 of the 6,643 forest plots were analyzed for phytolites, this study represents one of the most comprehensive landscape-scale reconstructions of previous Amazon land use and subsistence strategies.” paleoecologist S. Yoshi Maezumi, an honorary researcher from the University of Exeter, said Gizmodo.

“The consistent presence of a variety of domesticated crops in these soil profiles supports the interpretation that the forest islands were probably landscaped and used as home gardens,” said Maezumi, who was not involved with the new research.

In particular, the researchers also found evidence of cassava called manioc, pumpkin, and early corn. The cassava was dated 10,350 years ago, the pumpkin 10,250 years ago and the corn 6,850 years ago.

These carbohydrate-rich staples were likely supplemented with large herbivores and fish in the savannas, according to the research team, including scientists from Penn State University, the University of Exeter, and Pompeu Fabra University, among other institutions.

“We already knew from genetic studies that cassava was domesticated somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, so it’s the most surprising evidence,” said Maezumi. “The fact that humans cultivated a domesticated pumpkin species 10,000 years ago implies an even earlier period of pre-domestication cultivation, and it will be extremely interesting to know where this took place.”

Interestingly, the new study also shows that early settlers in the Southwest Amazon were not exclusively hunter-gatherers because they adopted an agricultural lifestyle.

Maezumi said there are still many unanswered questions about these early pursuits, such as the size of these groups, whether the forest islands were in fact gardens and where these people actually lived.

The new study “places the southwestern Amazon as one of the oldest domestication centers in the world,” Watling told Gizmodo. The evidence adds “to a growing body of evidence that the Southwest Amazon was a hotspot for early human habitation and provides new insights into how people lived and used diverse resources” in the forest and savanna ecosystem. The diverse landscape, she said, has likely played a key role in the process of plant domestication.

“As this region is currently under threat from deforestation and unsustainable land use, these data establish the antiquity of human land use in the area and provide an example of more than 10,000 years of indigenous land use, plant cultivation and livelihood strategies that can sustainably inform Futures from the Amazon, ”said Watling.

“As this region is currently under threat from deforestation and unsustainable land use, these data establish the antiquity of human land use in the area and provide an example of more than 10,000 years of indigenous land use, plant cultivation and livelihood strategies that can sustainably inform Futures from the Amazon, ”said Watling.