Archaeologists Discover 3,000-Year-Old Megalithic Temple Used by a ‘Water Cult’ in Peru
The ruins of an ancient mega temple in Peru, believed to have been built some 3,000 years ago, are uncovered in an archeological excavation.
It is believed that the temple was dedicated to water worship. It was concluded by experts on the basis of the location of altars, their shape, and their position.
In the archeological complex Huaca El Toro, in Oyotún district of Peru’s Lambayeque, old megalithic remains were discovered.
Walter Alva, director of the Sipan Museum Royal Tombs, stated that the Temple is situated near the junction of two ancient rivers, the Nanchoc River and the Udima River Sacred Place.
It is precisely there where an ancient culture chose to construct a massive temple.
Although temples are not a rarity in Peru, this is the only megalithic structure that has been discovered so far in Peru’s Lambayeque region.
To the surprise of archaeologists, excavations revealed that the ancient temple had been constructed entirely of supermassive stones. The facade, as well as the side wall s of the temple, were all built using massive granite blocks.
Some of the megalithic stones bear messages on their surfaces. The symbols suggest that the massive granite blocks were hauled from sacred places.
The temple was used as a center for the worship of water. In front of the megalithic construction are altars representing the cult of water. Water is thought to have been considered divine at the time.
Based on archeological evidence the researchers concluded that from around 1,500 BC to around 292 AD, as many as three construction phases took place.
The oldest of the three construction phases saw the use of smaller conical adobes where its builder used stones of smaller dimensions. The second construction phase was an evolution in construction techniques where larger stones were used.
It was in the third construction phase that its builders opted for the use of megalithic stones.
The temple features a circular column where archeologists discovered evidence of sedimentation of rains and rituals.
The temple faces the mountain and experts argue the structure was used strictly for ceremonial practices. They discovered signs of burning rock at the site. The ancients may as well have used the site to perform rituals linked to fertility.
The discovery also features a tomb from the Final Formative period during which the temple is thought to have lost importance. The archaeologists also uncovered around 20 tombs that belonged to the Chimu-Inca culture, indicating the tombs were probably reused in later times.
All of the tombs feature pottery fragments as well as metal objects that were placed as offerings next to the tombs.
Archeologists explained that the site is regarded as the central water cult temple for the entire Zaña Valley.
Around 300 BC when the Chavin culture lost power, the temple lost its importance which coincides with the appearance of smaller theocratic societies, farmers and warriors.
Nazca Line Discoveries in Peru Suggest the Mysterious Geoglyphs Are Pervasive
In Peru, the Nazca Lines are the most mysterious archeological geoglyphs. For nearly a century, these humanoid, geometric forms and animal glyphs have confused experts.
Scientists from Japan now claim that up to 143 new images have been found near the UNESCO World Heritage site. One was discovered using new artificial intelligence and it is believed that this technology could now reveal a flood of more glyphs.
The Nazca Lines have been studied since 2004 by a group from Yamagata University in Japan headed by Prof. Masato Sakais, a specialist in Andean archeology.
They suspected that there were new geoglyphs still to be discovered. This was “based on an on-site investigation begun in 2010 as well as aerial pictures” reports Asahi.com. The Nazca Lines are on a plateau on the pampa and are some 250 miles (80 kilometers) south of Lima the capital of Peru.
A press release from IBM Research describes the manmade phenomena as “shapes of varying complexity – from simple geometric shapes and plants to zoomorphic designs of animals — some several hundreds of meters in length, etched into the terrain”.
The lines date from anywhere between 500 BC to 500 AD and they were created by pre-Incan people. They were possibly used as solar calendars or more likely for ceremonial purposes and many can be considered to be ritual art.
Asahi.com reports that “until now, it was thought that 80 or so geoglyphs exist”. However, the team from Yamagata University used drones and 3D data to identify up to 143 new geoglyphs. According to a press release by Yamagata University, ‘these geoglyphs depicted people and many different animals (including birds, monkeys, fish, snakes, foxes, felines, and camelids). One of the new images “shows a two-headed snake that appears to be devouring two people”.
The geoglyphs are of two types, depending on how they were made. The first category comes from the Early Nazca Period and consists of images made by removing black topsoil to reveal white sand.
The second type which was created somewhat later was made by placing earth and stones on the surface. It seems that some of the first types were used for ceremonial purposes and the second type was “produced beside paths or on sloping inclines and are thought to have been used as way posts when traveling” according to Yamagata University.
However, the Japanese team was faced with a number of challenges. They could not manage all the data that they retrieved. So the team and their faculty entered into an academic partnership with IBM Japan Ltd to exploit the tech company’s “extensive initiatives to analyze and leverage large, complex data sets, such as remote sensing and geographical data, with AI” reports Yamagata University.
Yamagata archaeologists collaborated closely with IBM researchers, after a feasibility study that demonstrated the company’s Watson Machine Learning Community Edition, could help in identifying glyphs.
They utilized IBM PAIRS Geoscope, when they surveyed the Nazca Pampa, recently. This is a cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that can analyze data from multiple datasets and is especially useful when it comes to geospatial evaluations.
The team used LiDAR, that uses lasers to make a 3D representation of the lines in the desert. They also used images from satellites and drones.
Data from on-the-ground geographical surveys were all collected. All this diverse data was inputted into PAIRS and its AI was able to integrate and evaluate the data in a matter of minutes where previously such an analysis would have taken months.
The researchers found a 15 foot (5 meters) long geoglyph of a humanoid figure. This figure appears to be “brandishing some form of the club” reports Fox News. Furthermore, “AI analysis of aerial footage indicated there are more than 500 other candidate sites” reports Ashai.com. One of these was subsequently proven to be a site of ritual art.
These finds are important in themselves but also demonstrated how AI could be used to speed up the process of identifying new Nazca Lines.
The new technology will be used along with fieldwork to further study the images that have been found. This will result in a map of the new geoglyphs and will help in the development of a comprehensive map for the entire location.
Not only can they help to locate new Nazca Lines, but IBMs technology can also help to preserve the UNESCO World Heritage site. “Professor Sakai and others have carried out activities to preserve this heritage site” in recent years report Yamagata University.
The mysterious glyphs are being threatened by the growth of nearby urban areas. It is hoped that AI technology can also play a part in determining the distribution of the lines so that they can be better protected.
Ancient Hidden City Discovered Under Lake Titicaca in Peru
Archeologists discovered the remains of an ancient civilization under the waters of the lake five minutes far from the town of Tiquina on the shores of Titicaca Lake.
Christophe Delaere, an archeologist from the Free University of Belgium, made the discovery 10 years ago using the information provided by local residents. Under the lake, according to the BBC 24 submerged archeological sites were found.
Santiago de Ojjelaya, the most prominent of these places, has recently been decided by the Bolivian Government to build a museum on the site that preserves both the submerged structures and those which are on land.
The project is supposed to be finished in 2020 and will cost an estimated $10 million. The Bolivian government is funding the project with help from UNESCO and is backed by the Belgian development cooperation agency.
The proposed building will have two parts and cover an area of about 2.3 acres (9,360 square meters). One part of the museum will be on the shore, and it will display artifacts that have been raised from the lake bottom.
The second part will be partially submerged, with enormous glass walls that will look out under the lake, allowing visitors to see the “hidden city” below.
According to the Bolivia Travel Channel, the museum will facilitate the beginning of an archaeological tourism enterprise, which “will be a resort and archaeology research center, geology and biology, characteristics that typified it unique in the world [sic],” according to Wilma Alanoca Mamani, holder of the portfolio of the Plurinational State.
Christophe Delaere said that the building’s design incorporates elements of architecture used by the Andean cultures who inhabited the area.
Jose Luis Paz, who is the director of heritage for Bolivia’s Ministry of Culture, says that two types of underwater ruins will be visible when the building is complete: religious/spiritual offering sites, primarily underwater, and places where people lived and worked, which were primarily on the shoreline. He went on to say that the spiritual sites were likely flooded much later than the settlements.
A team of archaeological divers and Bolivian and Belgian experts have located thousands of items in the underwater sites. Some of these pieces will be brought up, but the majority will remain underwater as they are quite well-preserved.
Wilma Mamani said that more than 10,000 items have been found including gold and ceramic pieces and various kinds of bowls and other vessels.
The items are of pre-Inca Tiwanaku civilizations. Some of the artifacts have been estimated to be 2,000 years old, and others have been dated back to when the Tiwanaku empire was one of the primary Andean civilizations.
Tiwanaku was a major civilization in Bolivia, with the main city built around 13,000 feet above sea level, near Lake Titicaca, which made it one of the highest urban centers ever built.
The city reached its zenith between 500 AD and 1000 AD, and, at its height, was home to about 10,000 people. It’s unclear exactly when the civilization took hold, but it is known that people started settling around Lake Titicaca about 2,000 BC.
According to Live Science, the city’s ancient name is unknown, since they never developed a written language, but archaeological evidence suggests that Tiwanaku cultural influence reached across the southern Andes, into Argentina, Peru, and Chile, as well as Bolivia.
Tiwanaku began to decline around 1,000 AD, and the city was eventually abandoned. Even when it fell out of use, it stayed an important place in the mythology of the Andean people, who viewed it as a religious site.
Besides the obvious benefits of being able to study and share the artifacts of ancient civilizations, the project has another benefit as well. Most of the people who currently live in the area make their living in agriculture or fishing.
This project brings the possibility of new jobs for local residents, which can keep people from leaving the area due to a lack of opportunities, helping revitalize local communities.
PERU: Well-Preserved Dog Remains Unearthed in ancient Peruvian temple
In an ancient pre-Hispanic Peruvian site, the “unprecedented” well-preserved bones of a 1000-year-old dog are found.
In the main building, described as a temple in the reports, researchers from the Sechin Archeological Project found dog remains from the Casma Valley in northern Peru.
The Casma-Sechin culture is a concentration of pre-Hispanic ruins in the valleys of the Casma River.
Researchers said the dog (Canis lupus familiaris), whose breed and age are yet to be determined, is from the late occupation of the Sechin culture around 1,000 A.D.
The temple complex is believed to be much older, however, with scientists finding a staircase reportedly dating back some 4,000 years.
Project director Monica Suarez told reporters the dog is so well preserved its fur can be determined as “yellow and brown” and even the pads on its paws have been preserved.
She added that the dog “could be a native breed from the pre-Hispanic era” that had settled in the temple, adding: “It is believed it belongs to the era of the reoccupation of Sechin, specifically to the Casma culture, around 1,000 AD.”
Local media report the find has been described by the researchers as “unprecedented”.
The remains will be sent to the Peruvian Ministry of Country after being analyzed by the researchers.
The project is in the middle of its first phase and the researchers will take a break in November before starting again before the end of the year.
Why were hundreds of children sacrificed in ancient Peru?
Archeologists who found them must have been shocked, perplexed and saddened before they first found the children’s bodies. Why would someone ever kill hundreds of kids ritually? What kind of monster is capable of such incredible evil.
In Peru archeologists who have lately digged something out of a horror novel have stumbled upon, according to Al Jazeera:
“Archaeologists in Peru have discovered a grave containing the bodies of 227 children who were almost certainly killed as part of a child sacrifice ritual.
“The sacrificial site was found near Huanchaco, a beachside tourist town north of Lima.
“‘This is the biggest site where the remains of sacrificed children have been found.
The bodies of the children are believed to have been a part of the ancient Chimú culture are the date from a period between 1400 and 1450.
“From about 900 until 1470 AD, at which time they were conquered by the Inca empire. A scientific paper published in March in PLOS One details the results of recent excavations at the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas archaeological site, where ‘evidence of a previously unknown ritual involving a massive sacrifice of 140 children and 200 young camelids (llamas) by the Chimú State, c. AD 1450.’
The site, according to the Los Angeles Times, is one of the largest known cases of child sacrifice in the history of the Americas, and those who uncovered the bodies were said to be “shocked” unable to believe they had found so many tiny children who had been slaughtered in such a ritualistic fashion.
The Chimú people were highly advanced and valued agriculture because it helped feed their nation. They even build a network of hydraulic canals so they could bring water from the mountainous region down to irrigate their crops.
Yet none of these facts explain why the Chimú would have suddenly felt a need to sacrifice so many children. There are no written records of their specific religious beliefs, but we do know that the bodies were buried “in a thick layer of mud that lay on top of the sand” and this would seem to suggest they were placed there after heavy rains caused massive mudslides in the area.
Could the weather have been the reason for the sacrifices?
“The northern coast of Peru is very dry in general, but El Niño climate conditions can bring unexpected heavy rains and flooding.”
Haagen Klaus, an anthropologist at George Mason University, believes the floods were what caused the sudden need for human sacrifices, adding that “he had little doubt that the sacrifice was a response to the rains.”
It was believed that the ancestors controlled water supplies and offerings were made to appease the ancestors, ‘to bring the world back into balance.’”
Imagine what must have transpired: The rains and flooding came, destroying the crops and economy of the Chimú.
They felt a need to appease the gods, so they arranged for the ritual sacrifice of children and llamas, the most valuable things in their society.
Though it seems barbaric and unforgivable to us thousands of years later, the Chimú were merely doing what they hoped would revive their nation and return balance to nature and life.
But the evidence they left seems to suggest that all they accomplished was leaving a charnel house of horrors to document their own lack of understanding.
Archaeologists Say New Airport Near Machu Picchu “Would Destroy It”
The Incan citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the world’s most stunning pieces of engineering, and a hypnotizing, historical remnant of a mystical past.
Nestled in the Andes at around 8,000 feet, the government is now planning to boost the lucrative tourism it draws annually even more — by building a multibillion-dollar international airport nearby, which critics are adamant “would destroy it.”
The Unesco World Heritage Site is traditionally reached by taking a flight to the Cusco airport 46 miles away, which only has one runway. From there, visitors usually continue by train or by hiking through the Sacred Valley.
With more than 1.5 million visitors to the sacred site in 2017 — nearly twice what Unesco recommends to protect it — transportation to the ancient ruins is getting more crowded every year. Construction on the profitable corporate venture is already underway. Bulldozers are clearing millions of tons of earth in Chinchero, which is 12,500 feet above sea level and the gateway for the Sacred Valley.
Archaeologists, historians, locals, and activists are in utter disbelief, however, as the airport would bring push the region even further beyond its visitor capacity and put a huge strain on the regional ecology.
“This is a built landscape; there are terraces and routes which were designed by the Incas,” Natalia Majluf, a Peruvian art historian at Cambridge University, told The Guardian. “Putting an airport here would destroy it.”
South Korean and Canadian companies are preparing to bid on the construction project, which would provide direct flight access from major American and South American cities. The tiny town of Chinchero is reportedly hurrying to build new houses and hotels in anticipation of the incoming flood of tourists.
But for critics — who seem to have nothing but the sanctity and protection of this 15th-century site in mind — there are far more important matters at hand. This area was once home to the world’s largest empire, and jeopardizing its integrity for profit is simply unacceptable to countless academics.
“It seems ironic and in a way contradictory that here, just 20 minutes from the Sacred Valley, the nucleus of the Inca culture, they want to build an airport — right on top of exactly what the tourists have come here to see,” said Pablo Del Valle, a Cusco-based anthropologist. Should the airport be completed and function as intended, planes would make low flyovers over Ollantaytambo — a 134 square-mile archaeological park — and likely cause priceless damage to the Incan ruins.
Other critics are more focused on the Lake Piuray watershed being depleted during the airport’s construction, costing the city of Cusco half its water supply. The petition, which Majluf took upon herself to start, asks Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra to re-assess this project — or choose a different spot.
“I don’t think there’s any significant archaeologist or historian working in the Cusco area that hasn’t signed the petition,” said Majluf. Chinchero was built as a royal estate for Incan ruler Túpac Inca Yupanqui, about 600 years ago. The area is extremely well-preserved and offers an unquantifiable wealth of direct contact with a time long gone. Many of the structures in Machu Picchu befuddle archaeologists to this day.
The economy here is largely dependent on tourism and farming. As such, it’d be surprising if those desperate for more customers would oppose a big modern airport next door — but they do. Alejandrina Contreras a blanket-weaver who lives in Chincero, said, “We live peacefully here, there are no thieves, there are no criminals. There will be progress with the airport but a lot of things will change.”
“Think of the noise, the air pollution, the illnesses it will bring,” said 20-year-old Karen Auccapuma.
This project has actually already been delayed, as the private company who had the winning bid became entangled in price-hike and corruption allegations. Unfortunately, arbitration on the current business model has been settled — and the government is eager to complete construction by 2023.
“This airport will be built as soon as possible because it’s very necessary for the city of Cusco,” Carlos Oliva, Peru’s finance minister, suggested. “There’s a series of technical studies which support this airport’s construction.”
Naturally, there is local appeal for the project. Citizens have been regaled with the promise of 2,500 construction jobs, while the local land has increased in value so much that some have begun selling their properties for a pretty penny. Peasant families have changed their lives by selling farmland. Cusco Mayor Luis Cusicuna claimed local leaders have been desperate for a second, larger airport for decades.
The Incan site is “so singularly dominant for the Peruvian tourism offering,” said Mark Rice, author of Making Machu Picchu: The Politics of Tourism in Twentieth-Century Peru. “The best way I can describe it is if people going to Britain only went to Stonehenge.”
Rice explained that there’s “legitimate concern that Cusco’s travel infrastructure is at its limit,” however. So while the proposal has a rational backbone — in terms of business, at least — it most definitely will cause a “lot of damage to one of the key tourism offerings of Cusco, which is its scenic beauty.”
Unesco recently threatened the Peruvian government that it was prepared to remove Machu Picchu from its list, and place it on the list of world heritage sites in danger, instead. In response, Peru narrowed entry requirements, such as limiting visits to certain times of the day.
At this very moment, however, the nascent airport project is causing new houses, hotels, and buildings to be constructed in the area. Everyone is preparing to make this a lucrative endeavor while throwing caution to the Incan wind.
World’s Biggest Mass Child Sacrifice Discovered In Peru, with 140 Killed in ‘Heart Removal’ Ritual
The largest child sacrifice on record took place after a torrential rainfall, when about 140 children and 200 young llamas likely had their hearts ripped out by the ancient Chimú culture in A.D. 1450, in what is now Peru.
The reason for the sacrifice, however, remains a mystery, according to a new study. Even so, the scientists of the study have several ideas. For instance, heavy rainfall and flooding from that year’s El Niño weather pattern may have prompted Chimú leaders to order the sacrifice, but without more evidence, we’ll likely never know the real reason, said study co-researcher John Verano, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Study lead researcher Gabriel Prieto, an assistant professor in archaeology at the National University of Trujillo, Peru, learned about the sacrificial site in 2011 after a father approached him while he was doing fieldwork on another project.
The father described a nearby dune with bones poking out of it. The father said, “Look, my kids are bringing bones back every day, and I’m tired of it,” said Verano, who later joined the project in 2014. Once at the dune, Prieto immediately realized that the site had archaeological significance, and he and his colleagues have been working on it since, excavating and studying the human and llama (Lama glama) remains at the site, known as Huanchaquito-Las Llamas.
“It’s the largest child sacrifice event in the archaeological record anywhere in the world,” Verano said. “And it’s the largest sacrifice with llamas in South America. There’s nothing like this anywhere else.
“Who were the victims?
The site holds the remains of at least 137 boys and girls and 200 llamas. Many of the children and the llamas had cut marks on their sterna, or breastbones, as well as displaced ribs, suggesting that their chests had been cut open, perhaps to extract the heart, the researchers wrote in the study.
The children ranged in age from 5 to 14 and were generally in good health, according to an analysis of their bones and teeth. These youngsters were wrapped in cotton shrouds and buried either on their backs with extended legs, on their backs with flexed legs or and resting on one side with flexed legs.
Many were buried in groups of three and placed from youngest to oldest. Some had red cinnabar paint (a natural form of mercury) on their faces, and others, especially the older children, wore cotton headdresses.
The llamas were either laid next to or on top of the children’s bodies. In many cases, llamas of different colors (brown and beige) were buried together, but facing different directions. Also buried at the site, near the children’s remains, were the bodies of two women and a man.
An archaeologist excavates one of the sacrificed children. An archaeologist excavates one of the sacrificed children. These adults do not have cut marks on their sterna, suggesting their hearts weren’t removed. Rather, one woman likely died from a blow to the back of the head and another suffered from blunt force trauma to her face. The man had rib fractures, but it wasn’t clear whether these injuries happened before or after death, possibly due to the weight of the rocks that were placed over his body, the researchers said.
The children weren’t buried with any discernible offerings, but the researchers did find a pair of ceramic jars and wooden paddles on the edge of the site, next to a single llama.
The Chimú culture dominated a large part of the Peruvian coast from the 11th to 15th century. It thrived, in part, because of its intensive agriculture; the Chimú watered their crops and livestock with a sophisticated web of hydraulic canals, the researchers wrote in the study.
This area is typically dry, drizzling only a few times a year. But it’s possible an extreme El Niño event, when warm water evaporates from the southern Pacific and falls as torrential rain on Peru’s coast, caused havoc in the society, not only flooding the Chimú’s lands but also driving away or killing marine life off the coast, Verano said.
Evidence shows that when the children and llamas were sacrificed, the area was sodden with water, even capturing human and animal footprints in the muck that still exist today. It’s unclear why this particular site, located almost 1,150 feet (350 meters) from the coast about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) north of the city of Chan Chan, was chosen for the sacrifice, but researchers have some idea for why the children were chosen.
Children are often seen as innocent beings who aren’t yet full members of society, and thus might be viewed as appropriate gifts or messengers to the gods, Verano said. Moreover, these children were not all locals. Some of the children had experienced head shaping, and an analysis of carbon and nitrogen isotopes (an isotope is a variation of an element) in their remains showed that these kids came from different regions and ethnic groups within the Chimú state, the researchers found.
It’s unclear why their hearts were removed, but “worldwide, everyone is aware that the heart is a very dynamic organ,” Verano said. “You can feel and hear it beating. It’s very vital. If you take the heart out, a lot of blood comes out and the person dies.”Today, some people in the Peruvian highlands and Bolivia still remove the hearts from sacrificed llamas, Verano noted.
Sometimes the removed heart is burned and the animal’s blood gets splashed on places like mines, a measure thought to protect the workers within. However, it’s unknown how the Chimú viewed and treated hearts in antiquity, Verano said. The children’s remains are now safely stored by Peru’s Ministry of Culture, and the researchers have submitted permits so they can continue to study them, Verano said.
The discovery shows “the importance of preserving cultural patrimony and archaeological material,” Verano said. “If we had had not dug this, it would probably be destroyed now by a housing and urban expansion. So we’ve saved a little chapter of prehistory.”The study is “an incredible insight into the ritual and sacrificial practices of the Chimú kingdom,” said Ryan Williams, a curator, professor and head of anthropology at The Field Museum in Chicago, who has worked as a South American archaeologist for more than 25 years.
He added that while human sacrifice is reviled in our modern society, “we have to remember that the Chimú had a very different world view than Westerners today. They also had very different concepts about death and the role each person plays in the cosmos,” Williams, who was not involved with the study. Given that the sacrifice may have been in response to devastating floods, “perhaps the victims went willingly as messengers to their gods, or perhaps Chimú society believed this was the only way to save more people from destruction,” Williams said.