Skip to comments.The Mother Of All Civilizations (Caral, Peru)
Posted on 12/16/2007 8:19:48 AM PST by blam
The mother of all civilisations
16 Dec 2007, 0001 hrs IST,Shobhan Saxena,TNN
The ruins were so magnificent and sprawling that some people believed that the aliens from a faraway galaxy had built the huge pyramids that stood in the desert across the Andes.
Some historians believed that the complex society, which existed at that time, was born out of fear and war. They looked for the telltale signs of violence that they believed led to the creation of this civilisation. But, they could not find even a hint of any warfare. It was baffling. Even years after Ruth Shady Solis found the ancient city of pyramids at Caral in Peru, it continues to surprise historians around the world. It took Ruth Shady many years and many rounds of carbon dating to prove that the earliest known civilisation in South Americasat 2,627 BCwas much older than the Harappa Valley towns and the pyramids of Egypt.
Solis, an archaeologist at the National University of San Marcos, Lima, was looking for the fabled missing link of archaeology a mother citywhen she stumbled upon the ancient city of Caral in the Supe Valley of Peru a few years ago. Her findings were stunning.
It showed that a full-fledged urban civilisation existed at the place around 2700 BC. The archaeologist and her team found a huge compound at Caral: 65 hectares in the central zone, encompassing six large pyramids, many smaller pyramids, two circular plazas, temples, amphitheatres and other architectural features including residential districts spread in the desert, 23 km from the coast.
The discovery of Caral has pushed back the history of the Americas: Caral is more than 1,000 years older than Machu Picchu of the Incas. They built huge structures in Caral hundreds of years before the famous drainage system of Harappa and the pyramids of Egypt were even designed.
But, it was not easy for Ruth Shady to prove this. It was only in 2001 that the journal Science reported the Peruvian archaeologists discovery. And, despite the hard evidence backing her, she is still trying to convince people that Caral was indeed the oldest urban civilisation in the world.
"There were many problems, many of them in my own country," says Ruth Shady, on a visit to India to discuss her discovery with other historians. "The discovery of Caral challenged the accepted beliefs. Some historians were not ready to believe that an urban civilisation existed in Peru even before the pyramids were built in Egypt," she says.
Basically, there were two problems. First, for decades archaeologist have been looking for a mother city to find an answer to the question: why did humans become civilised?
The historians had been searching for this answer in Egypt, Mesopotamia (Iraq), India and China. They didnt expect to find the first signs of city life in a Peruvian desert. Secondly, most historians believed that only the fear of war could motivate people to form complex societies. And, since Caral did not show any trace of warfare; no battlements, no weapons, and no mutilated bodies, they found it hard to accept it as the mother city.
Thats when Ruth Shady stepped in with her discovery. "This place is somewhere between the seat of the gods and the home of man," she says, adding that Caral was a gentle society, built on trade and pleasure. "This great civilisation was based on trade in cotton. Caral made the cotton for the nets, which were sold to the fishermen living near the coast. Caral became a booming trading centre and the trade spread," she says.
Caral was born in trade and not bloodshed. Warfare came much later. This is what this mother city shows: great civilisations are born in peace. Ruth Shady continues to battle for this great truth.
Many pictures here
sounds like post flood migration builders....
Thanks blam, good stuff as usual!
Sometimes I think we're still waiting...
True enough. Actually about 4,000 years, but who's counting millenia?
The very absence of any violent indicators makes this whole edenic premise suspect. Violence and war are an inescapable reality of human nature.
This meme has been announced many times, from the Polynesians to the Maya to the Anasazi. Every time, as knowledge of the ancient people grows, it is found that they were as bloody-minded as anybody else.
Might even be true this time, but that's not the smart way to bet.
Leftists have an insatiable urge to believe in a primeval Garden of Eden, from which we fell only by the Original Sin of our ancestors, the development of private property. Usually white male ancestors.
Since we fell from a state of peace, harmony and equality, we can return to it if we just assign all power to the Annointed.
I, myself, go with the hydrology theory.
How old are the Chinese pyramids? No one seems to have dated them yet.
Well said. The Maya-as-peaceful-loving-farmers theorists got their rear ends handed to them on a platter. Turns out they were as blood-thirsty as the rest of us. The hilarious part was that the Kumbaya crowd kept asserting that the Mayas were peace-loving several decades after the entire world saw the paintings at Bonampak. Complete denial. Oh, and I also enjoyed the huge fuss that was raised when it turned out the Anasazi were cannibals.
They finally deciphered the Maya script and most of the inscriptions turn out to read like something left by the Assyrians.
I toured Mesa Verde 25 years ago, and the story was put forward by the guides that the Anasazi had moved into the uncomfortable, cramped and dangerous cliff dwellings for some sort of solar energy reason. Since they had previously lived for many centuries in mesa top villages much more convenient to their fields, it seemed obvious to me that they moved into the cliff dwellings because they were scared to death. The neighbors turning into cannibals will do that!
I’ve often wondered if some Meso-American religious influence may not have been involved in the apparent change in the Anasazi way of life. Refugees from the Toltec, perhaps, who certainly had trade relations with the Anasazi.
Arf! I was told the same tale at Mesa Verde, which I love and have visited several times, back in the late 80s. They never give up. The Toltecs certainly did a number on the religious practices of the Maya when they arrived in the Yucatan, so I think your theory might hold water. One interesting link between Central Mexico and the Four Corners area is that both the Ute language and nahuatl are closely related linguistically , and come from a separate line of development from the other pre-columbian languages. Perhaps the nahuatl-speakers were break away Utes who traveled south. Have you ever visited Paquime in Chihuahua? Very interesting site, and strangely New Mexican.
Oddly, I’ve never actually been into Mexico, although I’ve been in border towns quite a few times.
There is certainly a linguistic link between the Utes, Comanches and Aztecs, among others.
Very diverse cultures among these peoples, of course. The legends of the Aztecs indicate that they were dirt-poor nomads when they entered Mexico, much like the Utes or Comanches were before they got horses.
I have backpacked over much of the Four Corners area, and I suspect few people realize how widespread the Anasazi ruins are. There are only a few spectacular cliff dwellings or pueblo ruins, but less dramatic remains are scattered widely. It has been estimated that a lot more people lived in the area in 1000 than today.
They still hate Christy Turner for that one.
"For many years, anthropologists have understood the Zuni in the American Southwest to occupy a special place in Native American culture and ethnography. Their language, religion, and blood type are startlingly different from all other tribes. Most puzzling, the Zuni appear to have much in common with the people of Japan. "
Didn’t some American once say that “If you want peace be prepared for war”.
The results showed that it contained human proteins. The defecator was a cannibal.
That would be the American Flavius Vegetius Renatus, around 375 AD. LOL
Why any Roman should be considered an authority on peace is beyond me.
That part of the tale is almost certainly buncomb. That there was an urban civilization in ancient Peru, on the other hand, is perfectly believable. It is even believable that there was more seagoing contact between old and new worlds than most historians think - 5000 years is an awful long time and lots happens in a stretch that long.
There is no "first" involved, however. There are urban civilizations in the near east back to the dawn of agriculture, 10000 years ago.
I’m not sure why the article considers 2,627 BC to be the world’s oldest urban civilization, since Sumer had many good-sized walled cities with massive temples by 5000 BC at the latest.
Keeley showed pretty conclusively that if the average death rate from primitive warfare in ancient and modern societies had been in effect during the century, the actual deaths from war in the 20th would have been at least 1B to 2B. 10 times as much.
Some primitive societies were far more violent than even this would indicate.
I admire and respect Ruth Shady for her lifetime of dedication and work, but my usual skepticism persists:
The search for the definitive history of civilized man will never end. There are too many unknowns. Many people don't realize that dinosaurs were not "known" until the 19th century.
What about the shoreline civilizations which are now under 300 of seas? How many might have disappeared permanently into subduction zones?
I do plan to read more about this lady's work. Sounds fascinating.
you bring up an interesting point here...a lot of these yaheys seem to assume that Earth’s geology has always taken place at the same rate that it currently does. How do we know that in the past continents did not drift more quickly? or how did those sea levels rise so much to engulf these cities off India without EEEEEEEEEVIL CO2 emissions from EEEEEEEEEEEVIL Western societies?
Old Roman saying inscribed in tombs, meaning, if you wish peace, prepare for war. Used by Mussolini on many an occasion in his speeches.
Science doesn't ask or answer 'why' questions.
Perhaps because the Pax Romana lasted longer than any other similar period in history?
But that's just a wild stab in the dark guess from me.
Amazing how things change. I toured Mesa Verde as a child 50+ years ago and the guides said the Indians (they were called Indians then) moved into the cliff dwellings to protect themselves against their enemies.
Depends on your definitions. The Pax Romana is variously defined as lasting from 80 to about 200 years. Leaving aside the fact that such rather dramatic events as the Jewish War and Bar Kochba's rebellion occurred during this period, I'll go for the 200 year definition.
Similar periods of relative peace and prosperity are found for at least two Chinese dynasties, the Han and Tang, which controlled an equivalent stretch of territory and probably an even larger population and wealth.
I'll grant you that such periods have been darn rare in history.
My reference was more to the growth periods of the Roman Republic and Empire, during which they had at least one foreign war going almost continuously for many centuries. And of course, after 180 the history of the Empire is a constant succession of foreign and civil wars.
Frankly, I think the 80 year definition is more fair, as prior to this point the Empire had been expanding, although at a slower pace than under the Republic. Even during the true 2nd century Pax, Trajan fought major wars of expansionism against the Dacians and the Parthian Empire. The last 20 years of the Pax, under Marcus Aurelius, was taken up with major wars against Germania and Parthia, so I'm not even sure whether it should be included, which brings us down to about 60 years.
I realize the Pax Romana looked wonderful to people in the Dark Ages and its constant fighting, but it wasn't that long a stretch and it wasn't all that peaceful. If you define it as internal peace, the US has had it since 1815 (or 192 years), with the notable exception of that little sectional disagreement in the 1860s.
It was a good run but I expect that internal peace to shatter in the next 30 years.
Yup. Idiversity will prove to be our weakness.
Oh my, another book to add to my purchase list! Thanks for calling attention to this book By Schoch.
Buy this one first:
This book completetly changes the established and conventional view of prehistory by relocating the Lost Edenthe world's first civilisationto Southeast Asia. At the end of the Ice Age, Southeast Asia formed a continent twice the size of India, which included Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Borneo. In Eden in the East, Stephen Oppenheimer puts forward the astonishing argument that here in southeast Asiarather than in Mesopotamia where it is usually placedwas the lost civilization that fertilized the Great cultures of the Middle East 6,000 years ago. He produces evidence from ethnography, archaeology, oceanography, creation stories, myths, linguistics, and DNA analysis to argue that this founding civilization was destroyed by a catastrophic flood, caused by a rapid rise in the sea level at the end of the last ice age.
What’s this ‘before’ ... you toss two feasts for the mind out and expect me to eschew one to buy the other? HAH! Now I have to buy both at the same bookstore visit. I mkae lists because I don’t go that often. At lats count—before you added more—I have seven books to find. Now I have nine and if you dare bring up any more ... well, just don’t name any Graham Hancock stuff with great photos from his lovely wife’s cameras.
I don’t read your post very well. Are you actually saying we haven’t had a war since 1815?
Indian Wars, Mexican American War very peaceful.
This woman has an agenda. I wouldn't expect her to recognize the truth.
In the world of today, no such distinctions are any longer possible and in the context of and, for purposes of discussing the inate tendency of humans to fight, the orient is a valid point.
For some reason, most of us today still see the orient as an exotic, different world, and are ever conscious of the simple fact that, whatever peace was enjoyed in China and elsewhere, it was always in a highly stratified feudal society with iron-fisted monarchies of one kind or another. Even to this day.
We haven’t had a war with conflict on American soil. Which is the criteria used for the Pax Romana, which saw continuous border warfare.
And your exception, the civil war was just brushed aside.
The point is your comment doesn't stand scrutiny.
Again with the exception of the WBTS, America has been internally much more peaceful for almost 200 years than the Roman Empire was during its famous Pax Romana, which was a good deal shorter in duration.
We take the accomplishments of America and Western Civilization so for granted that we tend to forget how unusual they are, historically speaking.
If you define it as internal peace, the US has had it since 1815 (or 192 years), with the notable exception of that little sectional disagreement in the 1860s.
Quite correct. Although Chinese society after the Han cannot be accurately referred to as feudal, and even under the Han the terms does't fit too well.
For that matter, iron-fisted monarchy and feudalism are in combo sort of an oxymoron. Feudalism means dispersed power, while monarchy means concentrated power.
However, your point is well taken that the East has never seen anything remotely resembling the freedom of Greek or Roman republics or of modern western republics or constitutional monarchies. That said, the absolute power of the monarchs was quite effectively limited in practice by somewhat more "informal" methods such as assassination, or just the practical difficulty of enforcing his will with inadequate communications.
No "absolute monarch" of the ancient world ever had anything remotely resembling the power over his people of a Stalin or Mao.
The comparison was with the Pax Romana, which meant peace within the Roman Empire. During much of the Pax Romana, expansionistic war was waged, and throughout it border warfare and skirmishing with barbarian tribes was continuous. Rebellions such as that of Boadicea were also quite common, although seldom very successful.
Applying those same criteria, America has been internally peaceful, with no foreign wars affecting American soil, or directly affecting American citizens, for almost 200 years.
True, we had a major civil war in the middle of this period, but then the Romans had one too. After Nero was murdered, they had three emperors placed on the throne by their troops in a single year, ending with Vespasian on the throne. To be sure, the American Civil War was doubtless a great deal more destructive than this relatively short Roman one. Although the Roman civil wars of the late Republic and of the empire after the Pax were of a scale equivalent in destructiveness to the American WBTS.
During the “Pax Americana,” the US conquered and incorporated the present American Southwest in a major war.
During the “Pax Romana” the Romans conquered and incorporated Morocco, Switzerland, much of Germany, Austria, Hungary, England, Wales, part of Scotland, Thrace, Illyria, Romania, Serbia, Iraq and Armenia, among other areas. With the last two being quickly abandoned as more trouble than they were worth, which modern Americans can sympathize with.
During the course of the Pax Romana, the Romans also converted a great deal of territory from rule by client kingdoms and allies to direct rule by the Emperor.
See my previous examples of two wars fought on all or partially on Amercian Territory.
Every war directly effected American citizens. I guess you didn't live on the coast during the early part of World War II.
I don't have time to correct the rest of your misconceptions.