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Peruvian Pyramids Rival The Pharaohs'
The Times Of London ^ | 8-20-2005 | Norman Hammond

Posted on 08/22/2005 11:38:36 AM PDT by blam

August 20, 2005

Peruvian pyramids rival the pharaohs'

By Norman Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent

RUINS on Peru’s desert coast dated to some 4,700 years ago suggest an earlier focus of civilisation than any so far identified in the New World. The site of Caral, in the Supe Valley north of Lima, covers 66 hectares (165 acres) and includes pyramids 21m (70ft) high arranged around a large plaza.

“What really sets Caral apart is its age,” Roger Atwood reports in Archaeology. “Carbon dating has revealed that its pyramids are contemporary with those of Egypt and the ziggurats of Mesopotamia.” These are among the earliest monumental architecture in the Old World. Surveys and excavations in neighbouring valleys, Atwood says, suggest that Caral “stood at the centre of the first society in the Americas to build cities and engage in trade on a large scale”.

Caral has been investigated over the past decade by a Peruvian team headed by Dr Ruth Shady. Other sites in Peru are as early, but the report notes that “none approach the size and scope of its architecture. Caral’s people dedicated themselves to their buildings with civic intensity, constantly making and remaking their stone-and-mortar walls, sunken plazas and densely packed residences”.

The population is thought to have been about 3,000. Much of the construction was done using “shicra bags”, loosely woven containers resembling a horse’s hay-net which were packed with boulders and used as building blocks. Shicra is a long-bladed annual grass, and thus ideal for radiocarbon dating: sample ages were as early as 2727BC, and when the dates were published in 2001 they opened a new debate on the orgins of Peruvian civilisation.

That Caral was not a unique site was shown by surveys carried out by Drs Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer in three neighbouring coastal valleys, which revealed a number of coeval sites: “There is now evidence of an extraordinary complex of more than 20 separate major residential centres with monumental architecture concentrated in just three small valleys,” they reported. The American team disputes Shady’s claim that Caral is the “capital” of this early polity, seeing it rather as an important regional centre.

At Caral, the two unusual circular plazas have been consolidated: at one of them a cache of 32 decorated flutes made from condor and pelican bones was found. Rubbish from nearby houses showed that sardines, anchovies and mussels were dietary staples. Caral was occupied for perhaps a millenium before it was abandoned.

Whether it can truly be seen as a civilisation comparable in attainment with contemporary Egypt and Mesopotamia is doubtful, but it demonstrates that the tradition culminating in the Inca Empire had deeper roots than anyone imagined.

Archaeology Vol 58 No 4:18-25

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: caral; godsgravesglyphs; history; peruvian; pharohs; pyramids; rival
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1 posted on 08/22/2005 11:38:38 AM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.

2 posted on 08/22/2005 11:39:08 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Peruvian Pyramids Rival The Pharaohs'

Of course.

They had the same architects.

< /ooOOOoOoOOeeeEEEEeeEEeeEEEeOoOoOoOoOooooOOOtinfoil >

3 posted on 08/22/2005 11:40:48 AM PDT by martin_fierro (Shirtless at the 7-11)
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To: martin_fierro

James Carville????

4 posted on 08/22/2005 11:43:10 AM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: blam

5 posted on 08/22/2005 11:43:45 AM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (I lost my copy of the PNAC Neo-Con agenda. Can someone fax me one?)
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To: blam

ok... what is all this..??
Similar Pyramids ALL OVER the world, by people who didn't seemingly know each other.
By constructions means NO ONE can explain.

Aliens... Thats gotta be it

6 posted on 08/22/2005 11:46:28 AM PDT by Mr. K (Some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help...)
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To: blam

Caral: the oldest town in the New World

In 2001, the oldest town in South America was officially announced. Dating to 2600 BC, it pushed back the date for the “first town” with one millennium. What is even more intriguing, is that the town of Caral has pyramids, contemporary with the Egyptian Pyramid Era.

Philip Coppens

22 km inland from Puerto Supe, along the desert coast, 120 km north of the Peruvian capital Lima, archaeologists proved that even in modern times, major discoveries can still be made. The ancient pyramids of Caral predate the Inca civilisation by 4000 years, but were flourishing a century before the pyramids of Gizeh… They have been identified as the most important archaeological discovery since the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911. Even though they were discovered in 1905, they were quickly forgotten as the site rendered no gold or even ceramics. Ruth Shady has been excavating in Caral since 1994. She is a member of the Archaeological Museum of the National University of San Marcos in Lima. Since 1996, she has co-operated with Jonathan Haas, of the American Field Museum. She felt that the “pyramids” were just that: before, they were considered to be natural hills. Her research led to the announcement of the carbon dating of the site, in the magazine Science on April 27, 2001.

What is Caral like? The site is in fact so old that it predates the ceramic period. Its importance resides in its domestication of plants, including cotton, beans, squashes and guava. The absence of ceramics meant that these foods could not be cooked – though roasting was an option.

The heart of the site covers 150 acres and contains six stone platform mounds – pyramids. The largest mound measures 154 by 138 m, though it rises only to an altitude of twenty metres; two sunken plazas are at the base of the mound and a large plaza connects all the mounds. The largest pyramid of Peru was terraced with a staircase leading up to an atrium-like platform, culminating in a flattened top housing enclosed rooms and a ceremonial fire pit.

All pyramids were built in one or two phases, which means that there was a definitive plan in erecting these monuments. The design of the central plaza would also later be incorporated in all similar structures across the Andes in the millennia to come – thus showing that Caral was a true cradle of civilisation.

Around the pyramids were many residential structures. One house revealed the remains of a body that was buried in the wall and appears to have been natural death, rather than evidence of human sacrifice. Amongst the artefacts discovered are 32 flutes made from pelican and animal bones, engraved with the figures of birds and monkeys. It shows that though situated along the coast, its inhabitants were aware of the animals of the Amazon.

How did the culture begin? Before Caral, there is no evidence except the existence of several small villages. It is suggested that these merged in 2700 BC, quite possibly based on the success of early agricultural cultivation and fishing techniques. The invention of cotton fishing nets must have greatly facilitated the fishing industry. It is believed that this excess of food might have resulted in trade with the religious centres. But apart from an economic model of exchange, the new social model also meant that a labour force existed that had in essence little to do. This labour force could thus be used for “religious purposes”. Caral might have been the natural result of this process – just like the pyramids of Egypt seem to have been the result of an available workforce.

The discovery of Caral has therefore reintroduced a powerful enigma: at the same time, on two different continents, agricultural advancements created a new style of life. The available workforce that agriculture had created was reemployed in the construction of pyramids. This “template” is visible in Peru, Sumer and Egypt, all in the 3rd millennium BC. Coincidence, or evidence of design? Alternative researchers will certainly soon reopen this debate, but archaeologists steer well clear of it.

Caral is indeed hard to accept. It is very old. Still, its dating of 2627 BC is beyond dispute, based as it is on carbondating reed and woven carrying bags that were found in situ. These bags were used to carry the stones that were used for the construction of the pyramids. The material is an excellent candidate for dating, thus allowing for a high precision.

The town had a population of approximately 3000 people. But there are 17 other sites in the area, allowing for a possible total population of 20,000 people for the Supe valley.

All of these sites in the Supe valley share similarities with Caral. They had small platforms or stone circles. Haas believes that Caral was the focus of this civilisation, which itself was part of an even vaster complex, trading with the coastal communities and the regions further inland – as far as the Amazon, if the depiction of monkeys is any indication.

For an unknown reason, Caral was abandoned rapidly after a period of 500 years (ca. 2100 BC). The preferred theory as to why the people migrated is that the region was hit by a drought, forcing the inhabitants to go elsewhere in search of fertile plains. The harsh living conditions have since not disappeared. According to the World Monuments Fund (WMF), Caral is one of the 100 important sites under extreme danger. Shady argues that if the existing pyramids are not reinforced, they will disintegrate further. The environmental conditions are such so extreme that this will not be an easy task. The task is further complicated by the fact that thieves roam the area, in search of archaeological treasures. Though the Peruvian government has given half a million dollars in aide, Shady argues it is not sufficient – and the WMF even argues that the Peruvian government is a contributing factor to the site’s decay. Private donators have stepped in to help, such as Telefonica del Peru. But Shady is hopeful that the main source of income will be tourism, who for a long period were shunned from the site as they might inhibit archaeological excavations. The hope is that the site will soon become part of the tourist route, taking in the enigmatic Nazca lines and the infamous Machu Picchu. Though much less famous than those two sites – it is much older and offers the traveller the possibility to see pyramids – in South America.

This article first appeared in Frontier Magazine 8.3 (May 2002) and has been slightly adapted.

7 posted on 08/22/2005 11:46:34 AM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (I lost my copy of the PNAC Neo-Con agenda. Can someone fax me one?)
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To: blam
I've seen both, there's NO comparison although both cultures and archaeology are interesting.

Egypt's artifacts have withstood the test of time probably better than anything we've(humans) built since, LOL.

8 posted on 08/22/2005 11:49:00 AM PDT by Mister Baredog ((Minuteman at heart, couch potato in reality))
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To: Choose Ye This Day
Although it is frequently argued that the mounds at Seymour, Indiana are a "natural formation", the major mounds pretty well follow the pattern of those shown in the above picture.

BTW, the Seymour mounds were pronounced "natural" on the basis that none of them contained human remains or artifacts. Interestingly enough, the old mounds in Peru also do not contain any human remains or artifacts.

9 posted on 08/22/2005 11:49:16 AM PDT by muawiyah (/ hey coach do I gotta' put in that "/sarcasm " thing again?)
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To: martin_fierro

ROTFL, good one!

10 posted on 08/22/2005 11:49:36 AM PDT by Mister Baredog ((Minuteman at heart, couch potato in reality))
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To: muawiyah
Here's what the mounds looked (look?) like in Caral:

11 posted on 08/22/2005 11:50:57 AM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (I lost my copy of the PNAC Neo-Con agenda. Can someone fax me one?)
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To: Mr. K

> Similar Pyramids ALL OVER the world

That's what happens when you simply try to build tall things with minimal archtectual finesse... they wind up looking like piles. After the disaster of the "bent pyramid" the Egyptians discovered the proper angle for the sides fo their pyramids by simply copying the angle that a conical pile of sand takes naturally.

Not that complex to figure out.

> constructions means NO ONE can explain.

Errrr... no.

12 posted on 08/22/2005 11:53:18 AM PDT by orionblamblam ("You're the poster boy for what ID would turn out if it were taught in our schools." VadeRetro)
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To: Choose Ye This Day
That's what they look like in Seymour, Indiana too.

BTW, the entire area occupied by most of the town has been rendered flat. An ancient Indian council circle lies to the East.

It's unfortunate that in this area most of the research has gone into the Mound Builder cultures (Adena and Hopewell) and none into preceeding cultures.

13 posted on 08/22/2005 11:54:19 AM PDT by muawiyah (/ hey coach do I gotta' put in that "/sarcasm " thing again?)
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To: muawiyah

Do you have a good link for the Seymour mounds? I Googled, but couldn't find much.

14 posted on 08/22/2005 11:55:24 AM PDT by Choose Ye This Day (I lost my copy of the PNAC Neo-Con agenda. Can someone fax me one?)
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To: Choose Ye This Day

I know what you mean. I googled and only found Seymour Butts.

15 posted on 08/22/2005 12:09:52 PM PDT by sine_nomine (Protect the weakest of the weak - the unborn babies.)
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To: Choose Ye This Day
"The absence of ceramics meant that these foods could not be cooked – though roasting was an option. "

Actually people in some areas cook(ed) in tightly woven baskets with hot stones. As long as you keep the stones moving the basket does not burn. Additionally, you can use hollowed out wooden vessels or animal skins with the hot stone method.
16 posted on 08/22/2005 12:13:35 PM PDT by ndt
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To: sine_nomine

" I googled and only found Seymour Butts."

LOL, I used to travel to Seymour, did business with a printing company there. I was always amused by the high school mascot, painted big and bold on the water tower, looming over the town... Owls. Get it, get it? Owls. See more.

17 posted on 08/22/2005 12:17:22 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry (Esse Quam Videre)
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To: martin_fierro

Paging Dr. Daniel jackson, Paging Dr. Daniel Jackson....

18 posted on 08/22/2005 12:18:02 PM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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No, too handsome.

19 posted on 08/22/2005 12:38:06 PM PDT by asp1
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To: Choose Ye This Day
I don’t know Indiana geography well enough to tell if THIS is what you’re talking about. The artist’s conception certainly seems similar to the pyramids at Caral – and at a huge number of other sites in South, Central and North America.

There seems to be a straight line heritage of Amerind pyramid architecture from Caral to Olmec sites like La Venta, Mexico; the Zapotec at Monte Alban; the predecessors of the Inca at Teotihuacan; the Maya, the Moche of Peru; and many others like the many later mounds and pyramids to be found along the course of the Mississippi River and tributaries.

There’s a site HERE that lists many more including the largest in the U.S. at Cahokia, IL, a huge one in Mississippi and others. The analogy between the Nile and its floods with Mississippi floods and replenishment of fertile topsoil is interesting. There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of mounds, monumental constructions and pyramids in the Americas!

20 posted on 08/22/2005 12:41:05 PM PDT by Bernard Marx (Don't make the mistake of interpreting my Civility as Servility)
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