Skip to comments.The City Of The White Men (Who Built Tiahuanaco)
Posted on 02/01/2006 4:27:40 PM PST by blam
The City of the White Men
There isn't much left of the city of Tiahuanaco in Bolivia, South America. In the 1500's, the Spanish systematically destroyed the buildings. Later, many of the stone blocks were looted for houses in a nearby village. Most recently more stone was taken to lay a railroad right-of-way.
Despite this, what is left is still a sight to see. Tiahuanaco is old. It was already in ruins when the Incas took over the area in 1200 A.D.. It is situated on a mountain at an altitude of 12,500 feet and boasts a pyramid 700 feet long, 500 feet wide and 50 feet tall. There is also a temple 440 feet long topped with columns up to 14 feet high that may have once supported a roof.
The most impressive thing about Tiahuanaco isn't its architecture, though. It's the legend about who built it. According to traditions the city was constructed by a group of white skinned-strangers with beards. The leader was named Viracocha. According to an early European explorer ,it was said that Viracocha, "gave rules to men how they should live, and he spoke lovingly to them with much kindness, admonishing them they should be kind to each other..."
There are similar stories about visits by a bearded white man among the Aztec and Mayans. He was called Quetzalcoatl by the Aztecs and Kukulcan by the Mayans. How did white men arrive in Peru long before the Spanish did? Archaeologists estimate the city was founded around 200 A.D. If the legends are true, who are these people? Some have suggested that the Egyptians, Cretans, Greeks, Phoenicians or even Irish monks may have crossed the Atlantic to visit South America. The explorer Thor Heyerdahl even built a boat of reeds and sailed it across the ocean to prove the Egyptians could have made such a voyage.
There is no solid evidence to prove any of these theories, so who these white men were and why they built Tiahuanaco may remain a mystery that may never be solved.
I will post pictures and more articles about Tiahuanaco as we proceed.
I am interested in what you have to say, and will check back from time to time this evening.
Don't let Nagin hear about this!
I find it hard to believe it was Europeans of any kind,
not only would they have had to cross the Atlantic but
also the continent of South America.
LOL. I was hoping to learn something from you all.
Well, I guess we can rule out the Berserks.
Is the legend of Viracocha the basis of the Mormon belief that Christ visited the Americas after the Assumption?
Maybe Spielberg or Howard will make a movie and tell us who built it
You run into this type of story occasionally when reading about the Moche and Chimu, I will look around and see if I can get a link.
After all, the Old World had bows and arrows in the late Paleolithic (thousands of years ago), but the invention appears to have not reached the New World until about 800AD.
It would be extremely difficult to believe the "white" visitor to Meso-America failed to bring along his bow and arrow!
BTW, the "white men" might well have been little more than a reference to the cocaine powder they were carrying around with them.
First, the legend of Viracocha doesn't claim that he built the city, and it tells quite clearly where he came from. Viracocha was their god, and their legend about him is quite interesting. It says that he created the Earth and populated it with giants and evil people. He eventually flooded the entire world for 60 days to kill off the evil people, and afterwards recreated people out of mud by forming them and breathing life into them. He came to the Earth in bodily form to return civilization to them at Lake Titicaca and directed the people there to build the city (the lake has since moved, but when it was built the city was on the shoreline). Eventually other neighboring tribes grew angry at his peaceful ways and basically demanded that he leave or they'd kill them all. Rather than see his people killed, he hopped into a boat and sailed off into the Pacific, promising to return to his people one day.
There are many variations of the legend found in different cultures and at different times, but all basically follow that outline. Some versions claim that Viracocha was only one of several gods who showed up, and they eventually left after the people got sick of them fighting and drove them away.
As for his/their descriptions, it says that the god had skin like the snow, emerald eyes, a long white beard, and flawless white robes. Now, that could be translated as "caucasian", or it could be translated as simply meaning pure. The people who believed these legends lived in a time when the only truly clean thing they ever dealt with was snow (pure white), and the most valuable gem was emerald. Since the earliest versions of Viracocha describe him as the god of the sky, and since pure snow comes from the sky, it's very possible that their description of him had absolutely nothing to do with white people in Europe.
I had an female engineer from Peru (Zulma) working with me years ago and I asked her about the stories I'd read about blonde headed people who lived in the mountains. She said they were called the 'Cloud People' and still live there, blonde headed, blue-eyed people. I don't know?
Thanks again, Blam.
"It says that he created the Earth and populated it with giants and evil people. He eventually flooded the entire world for 60 days to kill off the evil people"
Man, that's straight out of the Book of Enoch, although the evil giants were most decidedly not part of the plan, but instead spawned as the result of interbreeding between the fallen ones, cast out because of their rebelliousness, and women of earth, against the will of God.
I've wondered before about reports of genetic engineering resulting in unintended side effects, one of which is gigantism, and tend to think of this apocryphal book whenever I've seen a reference.
Among the scattered colonial descriptions of Chachapoyas, almost all thechroniclers commented on the beauty and white skin of the women. Even Father Calancha succumbed to their beauty, noting, These are the whitest and most graceful Indians in all the Indies, and the women are the most beautiful.
Cieza, a usually levelheaded observer, mentions the whiteness of Chachapoya womens skin three times in his brief description of Chachapoyas. These Chachapoyas Indians are the whitest and most attractive I have seen anywhere I have been in the Indies, and their women were so beautiful that many of them were chosen to be the wives of the Inkas and the vestals of the temples.
Although he did not visit the region, Cieza saw Chachapoya people in Cusco,where, according to Calancha, they lived in the Karmenka district. Aside from the fact that sixteenth century Spaniards obviously regarded white skin as a sign of beauty, there is no evidence that the Chachapoya were descended from colonists who had sailed across the Atlantic and up the Amazon, as explorer Gene Savoy has suggested.
Studies of pre-Inka Chachapoya skeletal remains from Salsipuedes and other burial sites indicate that the Chachapoya were of Andean stock but, on average, taller than their contemporaries in other parts of ancient Peru (1.59 meters for men and 1.46 meters for women). Analysis of the skeletal remains from Los Pinchudos confirms the trend.
Viracocha / Kukulkan / Quetzalcoatl
The feathered serpent god is one of the great mysteries of ancient American cultures. He was called Kukulkan by the Mayas, Quetzalcoatl by the Aztecs, Viracocha by the Incas, Gucumatz in central America, Votan in Palenque and Zamna in Izamal.
He (and in some cases his men) was described as being a caucasian, bearded man in some writings, as someone with white skin, hair on the face and beautiful emerald eyes in others..
The supreme deity of the Incas: Viracocha
The Incas, which had a great technology when the Europeans are still barbaric nomads, said that their technology was taught to them by Viracocha who was described as a caucasian, bearded man.
Legends of the Aymara Indians say that the Creator God Viracocha rose from Lake Titicaca during the time of darkness to bring forth light. Viracocha was a storm god and a sun god who was represented as wearing the sun for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and tears descending from his eyes as rain. He wandered the earth disguised as a beggar and wept when he saw the plight of the creatures he had created, but knew that he must sustain them.
Viracocha made the earth, the stars, the sky and mankind, but his first creation displeased him, so he destroyed it with a flood and made a new, better one, taking to his wanderings as a beggar, teaching his new creations the rudiments of civilisation, as well as working numerous miracles. Viracocha eventually disappeared across the Pacific Ocean (by walking on the water), setting off near Manta Ecuador, and never returned. It was thought that Viracocha would re-appear in times of trouble.
References are also found of a group of men named the suncasapa or bearded ones - they were the mythic soldiers of Viracocha, aka the angelic warriors of Viracocha Note: Later one of the Inca Kings (the eighth Inca ruler) took on the name of Viracocha.
Gateway of the Sun The famous carved figure on the decorated archway in the ancient (pre-Incan) city of Tiahuanaco, known as the "Gateway of the Sun," most likely represents Viracocha, flanked by 48 winged effigies, 32 with human faces and 16 with condor's heads. This huge monument is hewn from a single block of stone, and some believe that the strange symbols might represent a calendar, the oldest in the world.
A huge monolithic figure, facing east in the direction of sunrise, stands as silent witness to an unknown civilization established about 2200 years ago.
Kukulkan is both a real person and a myth. The king Kukulkan lived about twenty centuries ago and was the founder of all empires in ancient America.
He came from heaven to earth, and because of that he was represented as a feathered serpent in all the majestic and enigmatic ruins of Mexico's archaeological sites. Half man and half god in one same being. The quetzal bird representing heaven, the serpent representing earth.
White-skinned and bearded, Kukulkan was also the god of life and divine wisdom.
He brought love, penitence, and exemption from the usual rituals of sacrifice and blood offering. He used to say: "ytzeen caan, ytzeen muyal," which in ancient Mayan means: "I am the dew and substance from heaven."
He was a mystical man who received people from distant places, and had the power to heal the sick and bring the dead back to life. When he departed for the east, traveling the ocean on a raft of serpents, he promised his followers to return in the year Cortes' expedition disembarked on the shores of Veracruz.
The deity Quetzalcoatl was the Lord of Intelligence and the Winds in Aztec mythology. The myth says that Quetzalcoatl had been humiliated and set off to the east.
The year is 1519. Hernand Cortes has been named commander of a force setting out from Cuba to find an unknown kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Aztecs of Mexico are thriving as a culture, the centre of this rich culture at Tenochtitlan, which has been established for nearly 200 years.
They had as an apocalyptic myth the coming of the feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl, and his army. The Spanish conquistadors filled the requirements for these myths and made them self fulfilling prophecies - the Aztecs believed that their own god had come to destroy them.
Maybe Motecuhzoma thought that, since the Spanish had come from the direction that Quetzalcoatl had last been seen, this strange conqueror may logically be the returning god. The date of the coming of the Spanish was strongly associated with Quetzalcoatl.
Both the Aztecs and Incas had cultures that were thriving and quite advanced in many ways. The architecture, calendars, and art of these peoples were at least to European standards, if not superior in quality.
The deity known as Viracocha / Kukulkan / Quetzalcoatl was said to be responsible for giving these crafts to the Aztecs, Incas, Mayas... If this deity was European (Could he have been a Viking? They seem to have travelled around a lot) how did he manage to impart his knowledge across such a vast area? Besides, lets not forget the Incas and Aztecs were ahead of us at that time.
Viracocha / Kukulkan / Quetzalcoatl is one of the many enigmas of our Earth's history.
This mystery could be explained by the man being an alien (or a group of aliens, since he seems to have been all over the place). Which could also explain the various references to this deity arriving from the sky - but Viracocha / Kukulkan / Quetzalcoatl could equally well be a mere legend. A bearded, Caucasian-type legend.
Brundage, Burr C. Lords of Cuzco. University of Oklahoma, Norman, 1967.
Townsend, Richard F. The Aztecs. Thames and Hudson, new York, 1992.
I had the same question in my mind when I read this post.
Im not sure about Viracocha, but extensive research on the legend of Quetzalcoatl, conducted by Mormon church member Brant Gardner, concluded there is no connection between Quetzalcoatl and the Book of Mormons account of Christ in the Americas.
Sorry, I don't know anything about the Mormons.
Yeah, if it weren't for that little human sacrifice thing, just imagine what they might have accomplished. ;)
When a Spaniard says someone is "white" it may not mean quite the same thing as when a Norwegian says it.
One text (sorry, no cite right now) I read a long time ago said there were visitors whose hair grew the wrong way on their faces... possibly bearded, bald Ainu.
These may be additions to the local legends added by the early Europeans?
How These Myths Resulted in the Downfall of the Aztec and Inca Tribes
by Charles R. Quay
The year is 1519. Hernand Cortes has been named commander of a force setting out from Cuba to find an unknown kingdom (Townsend 14). Spanish colonization of the New World is in full swing.
Permanent settlements have been set up on Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, with other explorers following Columbus' legacy and charting the eastern coasts of North and South America (Townsend 14).
The Spanish doctrine seems to be more is better. Meanwhile, the Aztecs of Mexico are thriving as a culture, the center of this rich culture at Tenochtitlan, which has been established for nearly 200 years (Ralph 356). The Aztecs are a violent culture, with human sacrifice and a strong warrior tradition.
Also, in Peru, the Incan culture thrives in Cuzco with many similarities to Aztec culture and a large empire in South America. Both these civilizations have as an apocalyptic myth the coming of bearded white men as either "angelic warriors of Viracocha" (Brundage 239), as with the Incas; or a god and his army in Aztec belief in Quetzalcoatl.
The Spanish conquistadors filled the requirements for these myths and made them self fulfilling prophecies. The myths and beliefs of the Aztecs and Incas led to their conquest and subjugation at the hands of the Conquistadors.
Neither the Aztecs or Incas were strangers to the empire building of Spain in the early sixteenth century. Both groups seem to have based much of their society on the conquest of neighboring nations and the building of vast holdings.
The Aztecs are only one of several tribes that were found in the region of present day Mexico (Townsend 86). Some examples of tribes conquered by the Aztecs are the Huaxtecs and the Mixtecs, conquered during the reign of Motecuhzoma I (1440-1469) (Townsend 87). The Incan empire stretched the entire length of the western coast of South America (Engl 38). The Incan empire was connected by a complex system roads (Engl 39).
However, the Aztecs did not build roads, their main modes of transportation were the canoe and walking (Townsend 188). The Aztec social class system was as complex as European feudalism, with noble landholders, serfs and slaves (Townsend 71). In my research, there was no mention of Incan social classes, the only distinctions being made between emperor, warriors and priests.
It is hard to believe from a modern standpoint that a class system did not exist in such a large culture, so we can make the assumption that there may have been some similarities between Incan and Aztec social structure, though I will not venture to say that they were exactly alike.
Much like feudal Europe, Aztec land ownership was either passed on through relatives of the ruling class, the tlatoani and the pipiltin or awarded to powerful warriors (Townsend 71). Both the Inca and Aztec societies were male dominated, as happens in many warrior nations.
There is no mention of Incan slavery, though the practice was widespread in Aztec culture. The main reason for slaves in Mexico seems to have been as a source for sacrificial victims (Townsend 190-1). These slaves were captured from defeated enemies and played a large role in the religious ceremonies of the Aztecs (Townsend 187).
As can be guessed from the imperial nature of the Aztecs and Incas, both nations had a strong warrior tradition. The Aztecs based much of their life on war and those who made it. The emperor had to prove himself in battle before he could ascend to control the Aztec nation (Townsend 206).
The men of the Incan nation were warriors, the most important rite of passage for boys to become men being the same ceremony which made them warriors, the huarachicoy (Brundage 221). When one speaks of the Aztecs and the Incas, one must be prepared to speak of proud warrior tradition and much bloodshed.
Polytheism is widespread in the ancient world, and neither Aztec or Inca nations are exceptions to this rule. Both nations built elaborate temples to worship and honor their deities. The most important aspect of Aztec military practice was the capturing of the conquered peoples' deities (Townsend 108).
The Aztec pantheon consists of captured local deities and many others which can be divided into groups. These groups are most simpl labeled as creators, fate, the elements, nature gods, rulers of the dead and deified heroes and ancestors (Townsend 110-111). The Incas worshipped mainly the Sun god (Osborne 42). There was also a system of divine kingship, much like in Egypt, where the king was thought to be a child of the sun (Osborne 44).
Cuzco's founding was a central theme in Incan mythology. The Inca, or first king, and his wife were the children of the Sun. The Sun gave them a golden rod which, when it was completely buried, would signal the center of Incan civilization.
The mythological location of this occurance is south of the City of Cuzco, and that is the place from which the Inca sent forth messengers to bring the people to worship and attend the sun. (Osborne 50-52).
The founding of Tenochtitlan is also the stuff of myth. The Mexica, precursors of the Aztecs in that city, were given a vision of an eagle perched atop a cactus. This is where they were to found their city.
After taking refuge in the reeds and swamps of Lake Tetzcoco, they found this marker, which was supposed to mark the location of the heart of Copil, a relative of the hero-god Huitzilopochtli. They erected reed temple on this location, which was later the position of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan (Townsend 60-62).
As is seen in all religions, worship is ritualized. The Aztecs and Incas are again not an exception to this rule. Both nations sought to appease and glorify their respective deities. In the case of the Aztecs, this took the form of ritualized human sacrifice and in some cases partial cannibalism (Townsend 190-191).
The Incas sacrificed grain and drink, along with animals. In times of great need, such as before a battle, or during high festivals, humans were sacrificed. Where the Aztec gods were appeased only with the loss of human life, the pantheon of the Incas was willing to accept less "valuable" presents.
Revelations is the book in the Christian Bible that tells of the end of the world and what will happen. The Incas find this same sort of prophecy in their myth of Viracocha. It had been told that the twelfth and last emperor would be Huascar, who reigned at the time of the coming of Pizarro (Brundage 239).
The suncasapa or bearded ones, who were the mythic soldiers of Viracocha, were seen as being the Spanish (Brundage 239). The myth was vague as to whether this was the end of the Inca empire or support needed at a time of great strife (Brundage 239).
In the end, the coming of Viracocha's army resulted in the Incan belief that Viracocha had forsaken his children and the empire was ended. Similar to this myth is the Aztec myth of the coming of Qetzalcoatl, or the feathered serpent god of these people. This deity was the Lord of the Winds in Aztec mythology (Townsend 120). The myth is that Quetzalcoatl had been humiliated and set off to the east. Though there is some doubt as to whether Motecuhzoma believed that Cortes was in fact the god returning to claim his throne. The most plausible explanation is that Motecuhzoma thought that since the spanish had come from the direction that Quetzalcoatl had last been seen, that this strange conqueror may logically be the returning god (Townsend 18). The date of the coming of the Spanish was strongly associated with Quetzalcoatl.
Other parallels in the situation are that the Spanish were strangers coming into their lands, much as the Aztecs had done to the Mexica. This fact pointed to the Aztec idea of the cyclic nature of things, and presented them with many reasons for the end of their empire being at hand (Townsend 20-21).
Cortes took Tenochtitlan through trickery and and deceit. Motecuhzoma thought of the Spanish as guests, but did nothing to help the Spanish achieve their goals, which were conquest and gold. Becoming desperate and feeling trapped, Cortes gained a royal audience under false pretenses.
The idea of physically harming the emperor was alien to the Aztecs, therefore Motecuhzoma did not have guards in his royal chamber. Cortes and his captains seized Motecuhzoma and planned to hold him hostage. Motecuhzoma was used to quell Aztec uprisings in the city. The second of these attempts resulted in his death. Cortes soon after found that he was in a tight spot, and decided to try to escape the city and gather more forces.
He had gained wide support among the Tlaxcalan tribe and eventually gained the support of the Cholollans. These tribes had been oppressed by the Aztecs and were eager to gain their freedom. By 1521, Cortes was confident enough of victory to lay seige to Tenochtitlan. After 93 days of this slow warfare, the Aztec leaders surrendered to Cortes at the top of the Great Pyramid and the Aztec Empire came to an end (Townsend 37-42).
Pizarro and his men first landed in the lands of the Incas six years after the fall of Tenichtitlan. It was a time of great strife for the Incas, as their ruler had died, leaving two sons who both had claims to the throne.
One son, Huascar, took the throne as his support in Cuzco was strong. His brother Atahualpa, however, had control of the army and refused to pay him homage. After six years of battles, Atahualpa was finally successful in capturing Huascar and ascending to the throne of the Inca. His rule was not to last long, and he was never to see Cuzco. It was not long after his victory that Atahualpa was captured by Pizarro and eventually executed. Where Cortes had to show great patience in his conquering of the Aztecs, Pizarro lucked into a situation that aided in his defeat of the Incas (Engl 81-128).
The final defeat of the Incan armies took place two years later in 1534 and Spanish colonization and conversion of the Incas began. The last Incan emperor was executed in 1572, signalling the absolute end of the Incan empire (Engl 165).
The Spanish looked at both of these as being the indians' fault. Had the Aztec and Incan forces not retaliated, the Conquistadors would have let them peacefully coexist in their lands. From these victories, the Spanish gained new lands and many treasures, including native slaves.
It was their divine right as Christians to overtake these lands and convert the natives to the Spanish way of being. The Spanish viewed their victory as only being right, as the natives were inferior in their eurocentric eyes.
The Aztecs and Incas did not see things quite in the same light. They saw the Spanish conquest as not only fulfillment of prophecy, but the end of their cultures.
When the Spanish came, the Aztecs and Incas fought them not to avoid fate, but to avoid the end of their respective worlds, knowing that these invaders would take over and change everything that they knew. It was not long before these tribes were assimilated into the Spanish colonies and everything that was strictly Aztec or Inca in nature disappeared.
When one looks at the conquest of the New World, the european point of view points to the defeat of inferior people. We do not see that both the Aztecs and Incas had culture that were thriving and quite advanced in many ways.
The architecture,calenders, and art of these peoples were at least to European standards, if not superior in quality. Though they may not have had the firearms of western civilization, these people had expended their energies in other ways. The Spanish assumed control of Mexico and South America, controlling and enslaving the native populations.
Some of these bloodlines still exist today, though no one can claim pure Aztec or Incan blood. All that we have left of these people that is purely of them is ruins and artifacts. Though the Aztecs and Incas did not surrender in the face of their prophecies being fulfilled, the nature of these people held these things in high regard, making the result inevitable.
What appear to be the Ainu were here very early.
"The oldest human remains found in the Americas were recently "discovered" in the storeroom of Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology. Found in central Mexico in 1959, the five skulls were radiocarbon dated by a team of researchers from the United Kingdom and Mexico and found to be 13,000 years old. They pre-date the Clovis culture by a couple thousand years, adding to the growing evidence against the Clovis-first model for the first peopling of the Americas."
"Of additional significance is the shape of the skulls, which are described as long and narrow, very unlike those of modern Native Americans."
That is very possible. For example, I found the following reference to European influence on the legend of Quetzalcoatl:
"Quetzalcoatl was never depicted as white until after the coming of the Spaniards, and then only in writings done by the Spaniards themselves. (see Readers Digest, Mysteries of the Ancient Americas: The New World before Columbus, 1986, 38)"
You misunderstand me. It's not that I think that this person was Christ. It is that if the Mormons had heard of this legend, they would have drawn the inference that Viracocha was Christ.
Jim Allen thinks it was Atlantis.
On the Altiplano
"...The Incas, which had a great technology when the Europeans are still barbaric nomads..."
What rubbish. The Romans predated the Incas by more than 1000 years. The Incas didn't even have the use of the wheel, except on toys.
Ever read Catlin's descriptions of the fair Mandan?
For another tidbit, and I think this is my own original observation, some of the Aztec pictures of their ancestors show them as having wavy or curly hair.
Read this, you'll like it.
Btw, Thomas Jefferson told Lewis & Clark when they were reporting on their trip through the west that he didn't want to hear anything about blue-eyed Indians.
There was a fear that other European nations could/would make a claim to the western regions of North America.
Oh you sillies! Don't you know that it was aliens from outer space that built it. Haven't you kept up with the books of ERIC VAN DANAGAN?
Chariots of the Gods and all that Jazz!
Yep! outer space people did it!
Then the last paragraph says, No evidence to prove any of these "theories", then, "who were THESE white men and why did they build Tiahuanaco."
I would guess the Indians down there as the white men were only "theory", "tradition", and "legend". There, I solved this complicated case for those idiot scientists.
The earliest versions of the legend that we've found predate Christ by a thousand yearsWhere was that found?
As his last (?) project, Heyerdahl was in the Andes somewhere, investigating a known but obscure site with a bunch of pyramids. Heyerdahl's excavations on Easter Island in the 1950s turned up a statue (shown in "Aku-Aku" I think) that was an early ancestor to the famous statues of that place, and also has affinities to art of Tiahuanaco.
There was a claim that the plaza at Tiahuanaco was built to align with (I think) the sunrise at the equinox, but that the alignment was only valid about 17,000 years ago. That is very poor methodology, obviously, since there is no inscription or carved illustration showing that intent. That's my usual complaint for most archaeoastronomical claims. The site is obviously not 17,000 years old.
Surviving stonework was set without mortar (a common technique in PreColumbian America), but there are also carved channels to bridge across the tops of many of the stones; metal joiners were either pounded in to the holes, or molten metal poured in to fill the channels. The same technique was used here and there in pharaonic Egypt.
I'm pretty sure it was poured. What was the metal, bronze?
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I thought that Quetzalcoatl was a feathered, winged serpent!
Wow, excellent pics. Only way those of us that don't/can't travel can see the wonders of archaeological finds.
I would discount the legends of founders or lawgivers or redeemers being light skinned just because their status as gods and heroes seems to require that characteristic because the founders and gods are "pure".
I wonder if deep ocean current (set and drift) could be calculated for period around 200 A.D.
I doubt it's changed in such a short geographic period of time.
No writing either. They kept records using knotted threads.
Even their architectural prowess was matched millennia earlier by the Egyptians and Romans and surpassed by Medieval Arabs.
Gee... since the folks in that region don't bow toward the East and pray several times a day, I guess we can rule out friendly Muslim adventurers....