Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Ancient ceremonial plaza found in Peru
Associated Press ^ | February 26, 2008 | ANDREW WHALEN

Posted on 02/26/2008 3:30:52 PM PST by decimon

LIMA, Peru - A team of German and Peruvian archaeologists say they have discovered the oldest known monument in Peru: a 5,500-year-old ceremonial plaza near Peru's north-central coast.

Carbon dating of material from the site revealed it was built between 3500 B.C. and 3000 B.C., Peter Fuchs, a German archaeologist who headed the excavation team, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday.

The discovery is further evidence that civilization thrived in Peru at the same time as it did in what is now the Middle East and South Asia, said Ruth Shady, a prominent Peruvian archaeologist who led the team that discovered the ancient city of Caral in 2001. Shady serves as a senior adviser to Peru's National Culture Institute and was not involved in the project.

The find also raises questions about what prompted "civilizations to form throughout the planet at more or less the same time," Shady said.

The circular, sunken plaza, built of stones and adobe, is part of the Sechin Bajo archaeological complex in Andes foothills, 206 miles northwest of Lima, where Fuchs and fellow German archaeologist Renate Patzschke have been working since 1992.

It predates similar monuments and plazas found in Caral, which nonetheless remains the oldest known city in the Americas dating back to 2627 B.C.

The plaza served as a social and ritual space where ancient peoples celebrated their "thoughts about the world, their place within it, and images of their world and themselves," Fuchs said.

In an adjacent structure, built around 1800 B.C., Fuchs' team uncovered a 3,600-year-old adobe frieze — six feet tall — depicting the iconic image of a human sacrificer "standing with open arms, holding a ritual knife in one hand and a human head in the other," Fuchs said.

The mythic image was also found in the celebrated Moche Lords of Sipan tombs, discovered on Peru's northern coast in the late 1980s.

Walter Alva, the Peruvian archaeologist who uncovered the Lords of Sipan tombs, said the plaza found in Fuchs' dig was probably utilized by an advanced civilization with economic stability, a necessary condition to construct such a ceremonial site.

The excavation was the fourth in a series of digs at the Sechin Bajo complex that Fuchs and Patzschke began on behalf of the University of Berlin in 1992. Deutsche Forschung Gemeinschaft, a German state agency created to sponsor scientific investigations, has financed the most recent three digs.

The find "shows the world that in America too, human beings of the New World had the same capacity to create civilization as those in the Old World," Shady said.

Her discovery, Caral, made headlines in 2001 when researchers carbon-dated material from the city back to 2627 B.C., proving that a complex urban center in the Americas thrived as a contemporary to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt — 1,500 years earlier than previously believed.


Associated Press Writer Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-36 last
To: ndt
"ceremonial" seems a perfectly accurate description what they are.

No, it seems like a randomly occasional description, based on a speculation of one possible use. The trouble is that archaeologists seem to assume a ceremonial or worship explanation for their finds, when there really is room for other valid reasons.

Maybe the plaza was just the local bigwig's front yard, and the gruesome mural was his way of posting "Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," or "Thus I defeated my enemy." Why must it be a "ritual image", and not a portrait? I used to drive by a bank every day that had a mural painted on it of an Aztec cutting out a heart, and it didn't make the bank a ceremonial location.

More likely, the plaza was the local marketplace for ages, so that's where they added the temple later. Maybe it was a playing field for llama polo. Maybe the Wallendorf Venus was just a sculpture by a guy, saying he liked big butts, and he cannot lie.

21 posted on 02/27/2008 7:19:33 AM PST by LexBaird (Behold, thou hast drinken of the Aide of Kool, and are lost unto Men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv; blam

Sejin Bajo.

It predates similar monuments and plazas found in Caral, which nonetheless remains the oldest known city in the Americas dating back to 2627 B.C.

Predates...but isn't older?

22 posted on 02/27/2008 1:22:55 PM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Fred Nerks
Predates...but isn't older?

I think they are saying that this is not a city.

23 posted on 02/27/2008 1:54:48 PM PST by decimon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: decimon; SunkenCiv; blam

Images from travelblog:


24 posted on 02/27/2008 2:14:15 PM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: SunkenCiv; blam; decimon


26 posted on 02/27/2008 2:34:49 PM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: LexBaird
it didn't make the bank a ceremonial location

I beg to differ, it is a place where people worship money.

27 posted on 02/27/2008 2:56:16 PM PST by razorback-bert (Eco-wackos make love by candlelight, it is the only light they have.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: razorback-bert

You have a point. Maybe it was not a mural of an aztec priest, but a depiction of a loan officer.

29 posted on 02/27/2008 3:02:15 PM PST by LexBaird (Behold, thou hast drinken of the Aide of Kool, and are lost unto Men.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Fred Nerks
"Predates...but isn't older?"

LOL. They probably don't want Ruth Shady on their butts.

30 posted on 02/27/2008 3:18:51 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: blam
Shady serves as a senior adviser to Peru's National Culture Institute and was not involved in the project.

Nothing gets done without her influence. Reminds me of you know who in Egypt. Her full name is Ruth Shady Sol...and she's a #$@*!@%+& Marxist! (IMO)

31 posted on 02/27/2008 3:43:08 PM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Fred Nerks; blam
I don't know anything about Shady's politics, but I have come to some conclusions of my own about the National Science Foundation, who just happened to be involved in this little dust-up.

An article I read last week but didn't bookmark stated, in that particular instance, the navy, along with some private contractors had done most of the heavy lifting on some fairly sensitive and groudbreaking research - cutting edge stuff. This of course, at American taxpayer expense; ok so far. When it appeared the project was feasible and doable, the NSF somehow was able to step in and pick up funding - a little odd maybe, but still ok. However, as a condition of funding, the NSF required foreign players be invited to the party! It apparently is their MO. Keep in mind, this is cutting edge technology and some of the original players were confounded by the NSF's actions. The upshot of course being, the American taxpayers are paying for the latest R&D and tecnology - to be shared with foreign partners. Not bad work if you can get it.

From that article I was left with the comment from one of the principles in the original research/project: "If it were up to the NSF, the project would have never gotten off the ground." They only come in when the heavy lifting is done.

Re Ruth Shady from HERE:

Intervention of Haas Creamer: With reference to the presence in Peru of Haas and Creamer, I should explain that I met them when I was invited to Chicago in 1999 for a meeting about the El Nio Phenomenon. I gave a presentation about Caral, and they showed interest and announced that they would travel to Peru the following year. In 2000, they did, indeed, come to Lima, and I took them to see Caral, where they stayed for one weekend. At that time our research in the Supe Valley already had six years of uninterrupted work and several publications. As I had done previously with colleagues Betty Meggers of the Smithsonian Institution and Henning Bischof of the Mannheim Museum in Germany, I committed Haas and Creamer to negotiating in their respective institutions the payment for 12 samples to be dated by radiocarbon 14. In December 2000, Haas told me by telephone that they had the results and that these indicated that Caral was as old as I had proposed. This is when he suggested to me that I publish the carbon datings in Science, together with him and his wife so that it would subsequently be easier to obtain funds for Caral by submitting a binational project in the United States. In this way Caral would have the economic resources it had lacked until then. I accepted this proposal, even though Haas and Creamer had never excavated in Caral.

♫ What a wonderful world. ♫

32 posted on 02/27/2008 9:40:08 PM PST by ForGod'sSake (ABCNNBCBS: An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Fred Nerks; blam; decimon
I meant to add this to my last post to share with youse guys some of the groundbreaking, er, work(?) the NSF is involved with. It's a link from Shady's open letter.

AAA Testifies in Support of NSF


 April 9, 2003

    Mr. Chairman, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) appreciates the opportunity to present testimony before this Subcommittee in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF).   We recommend an appropriation of $6.39 billion for NSF in FY 2004. The AAA supports the goal of doubling NSF?s budget over the next few years and the recommended funding for NSF in the recent authorization legislation.

    By way of background, the AAA is the world?s largest professional association of anthropologists.  Founded in 1902, the purposes of the AAA are to advance anthropology as the discipline that studies humankind in all its aspects, to further the professional interests of anthropologists, and to disseminate anthropological knowledge to address human problems.  The AAA represents more than 11,000 archaeologists, social and cultural anthropologists, physical and biological anthropologists, and linguistic anthropologists.

    We thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee for the strong support you have provided to NSF over the years.  Like you, we believe that NSF is a priority federal program, a good investment for our federal dollars.  We believe that a strong federal investment in NSF provides future benefits to the Nation that far outweigh the federal dollars expended.

    NSF plays a unique and critical role in advancing basic scientific research, nurturing the Nation's future scientists, cultivating collaboration among scientists around the world, and enhancing scientific knowledge and skills for K-12 students and the public.  NSF provides a model for fostering scientific creativity and discovery.  And the products of that creativity and discovery have contributed to the international leadership of the United States in scientific and engineering research and education.  Other countries are working to do the same, increasing their investment in basic science and technology research and innovation to assume an international leadership role.  More than ever, the US needs to invest strongly in science and technology to maintain our competitive edge internationally.

    We support NSF?s priority areas of research and education.  Anthropologists are contributing to at least three of these initiatives: Biocomplexity in the Environment, Human and Social Dynamics, and Information Technology Research.  We look forward to the efforts of the new initiative Workforce for the 21st Century and view it as another area to engage the expertise of anthropologists and the knowledge of anthropology.

    We wish to call attention to seven anthropology projects, recently and currently funded by NSF.  These projects represent cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological or physical anthropology and illustrate the benefits that result from a federal investment in NSF. The projects represent a broad range of research in cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological or physical anthropology.  Many are interdisciplinary in nature and US-based or international in scope.   Findings from this research are changing the way we view human history and human society.

     1.  In the search for the origins of human civilization, Winifred Creamer and Jonathan Haas at Northern Illinois University and the Field Museum, respectively, have discovered a complex society on the coast of Peru that predates the Inca and other forms of civilization in the Western Hemisphere. Working in the north-central coast of Peru, Creamer and Haas have identified 25 major yet previously undocumented archaeological sites in three adjoining valleys all dating to 3000 and 1800 BC ? the same time the pyramids of Egypt were being constructed. The related sites, referred to as the Norte Chico complex, appears to be the earliest centralized, hierarchical complex (civilization) in the Americas.  Among these is the site of Caral, dated to 2627 BC, that appears to be the oldest city in the New World.  The sites all share enormous platform mounds, round ceremonial plazas, and extensive areas of socially stratified residences.

    Research is currently focusing on 15 of these sites in two of three valleys, radiocarbon dating the monumental architecture and residential areas, examining the prehistoric diet, looking at mound building techniques, and studying incised drawings that may be related to the beginnings of Andean religion.  In addition, Creamer and Haas are involving the Peruvian people in the process, including undergraduate students in the research, holding a workshop for the local residents on how to analyze stone tools, and providing assistance to the local museum in developing an archaeology exhibit.

     2.  Globalization and integration of indigenous people into a larger economy is a worldwide phenomenon.  Does movement from an agrarian economy to a market economy and rural settings to urban ones induce stress and adversely affect an individual?s immune system? Thomas McDade at Northwestern University is looking at the effects of these changes on the immune function of children and adolescents in lowland Bolivia, where land is being forested and logged, and cattle ranching is expanding.  Local indigenous people who were previously farmers are now working for logging companies and cattle ranchers. Although these people are not physically moving, change is coming to them and their communities. McDade is looking at the impact of these social and economic changes on the overall health of children.  In the process, he is developing an effective, non-invasive and low-cost method to assess that health.  Using filter papers like those used for neonatal screening, he is collecting blood samples from pinpricks to screen for infectious disease and determine immune function.

    The research, in its first year, will help us understand how economic, social and cultural changes affect children physically.  While other studies indicate that the changes in Bolivia may be positive because cash and improved infrastructure enhance access to health benefits and services or negative because negative stress occurs and leads to poorer health, McDade anticipates a more complex outcome.  His previous work in Samoa indicates that those children who were well integrated into their families did not suffer the negative effects of stress, poorer health from suppressed immune function, unlike those who weren?t.  McDade?s research is also providing training and mentoring for students at Northwestern and students in Bolivia.

     3.  William Dressler at the University of Alabama, Birmingham is doing somewhat related work in Brazil, examining the relationship of physiological, nutritional, social, cultural and psychological influences to stress.  Dressler has done previous research in the US and Brazil that demonstrates how individuals in communities respond differently to the same stress, with stress associated with cardiovascular disease and measured through blood pressure.  He has found that individuals in communities recognize and rank a common set of characteristics and values that mark its ?culture? so to say.  In the US, he has found that such things as home ownership, leadership or participation in a church, among other things, are highly ranked characteristics of an ideal culture. Those individuals whose lifestyle best fit with this ideal, or demonstrate ?cultural consonance?, have lower blood pressure and experience less stress than those who don?t.

    Dressler?s current work in Brazil expands the application of cultural consonance to the domain of family life.  Those family members who share the set characteristics and values of ideal family life should have better mental health, lower blood pressure and less stress than those who don?t, he hypothesizes, and preliminary findings seem to bear this out.

     4.  From where do human characteristics of fairness and altruism spring?  Is humankind by nature greedy?  Are those in market-oriented and developed countries more selfish than those in undeveloped subsistence-based societies?  Jean Ensminger and Joseph Henrich at California Institute of Technology are investigating the roots of human sociality through economic experiments or games in 16 societies across the globe, including the US, Africa, Latin America, and New Guinea, at varying economic levels.  The research builds on a study in 1998 by the MacArthur Foundation that brought together anthropologists with field experience to pioneer the use of experimental economic methods in small-scale societies.  The study resulted in the application of games to investigate human sociality and some surprising and counterintuitive findings.  For instance, they found that altruistic behavior and a sense of fairness increases with the level of a society?s integration into a market economy.  Previous thinking was that those who live in subsistence-based societies with rules in place for sharing food would be more generous and fair, but the researchers found the opposite to be true.  The NSF research expands on this research by applying these games to more societies to test the validity of these findings, and adding new games and dimensions of sociality to include trust and the prediction and replication of game behavior.

    5.  With NSF funding, Juan Martinez-Cruzado at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez is studying human genetic variation in Puerto Rico. Martinez?s work focuses on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), passed on solely through the mother, to estimate the ethnic contributions of those from European, Sub-Saharan African, and Native American ancestry in various geographic regions of Puerto Rico. He has found to date that the mtDNA frequencies are 61% Native American, 27% Sub-Saharan African, and 12% European ancestry in the Puerto Rico population.  Surprisingly there is no difference in this distribution among the various regions of Puerto Rico.

    The history of Puerto Rico has suggested that disease killed many Native Americans following Spanish colonization of the area in 1508 and that genetic admixture has occurred continuously since then.  The project findings, however, indicate that Native Americans were assimilated, both culturally and genetically, into the population.  The project is the first of its kind in understanding the human history of Puerto Rico.

     6.  With NSF funding, Kenneth Kidd and colleagues at Yale University, have been developing a database on human populations that provides for the first time information on gene frequency variation for the modern DNA polymorphisms detected in the bulk of the human genome.  The database, accessible through the Internet, is called ALFRED for ALlele FREquency Database.  ALFRED consolidates current genetic data along with data collected among human populations across the globe over the past 15 or so years.  Each frequency will have detailed descriptions and definitions of the polymorphic site studied, the protocols used, and the specific sample of the specific population studied.  The molecular definition of the polymorphism at the DNA sequence level is linked to the molecular databases and the description of the associated human population is linked to an ethnographic database.

    ALFRED provides an important bridge between the biological data on the human genome and social science data on human populations (like language, geographic location, population size, etc.).  ALFRED is a significant resource that is being used currently by researchers in their analyses it is also being used in educational settings as a teaching aid and resource reference for students.  ALFRED provides the necessary infrastructure to the increasingly interdisciplinary study and interpretation of the human genome. The website address to access ALFRED is

     7.  As you know, many of the exciting scientific discoveries that make the front-page news are the result of NSF-funded research.  This is especially true of anthropology where many of the fossil finds lead to reconfiguring the history of our human origins.  A recent discovery of the remains of a 1.8 million-year-old hominid, the earliest species of the genus Homo, by Robert Blumenschine at Rutgers University and colleagues is a good example.  Blumenschine and colleagues discovered the remains associated with stone tools and butchery-marked bones of large animals in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.  The hominid remains are among the best specimens and include an intact jawbone with the entire upper teeth and part of the lower face. Blumenschine has assigned the hominid remains to Homo habilis and suggested that a related hominid in Kenya Homo rudolfensis is not a separate species as claimed but one and the same.

    Blumenschine has been working with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues in Olduvai Gorge since1989 to understand the human history and activities associated with this important site. This international project involves researchers and students from the US, Europe and Tanzania.  With partial help from NSF, the first paleoanthropology lab was built in Tanzania allowing the analysis and storage of all fossil remains within the country.  Previously, researchers had to take everything to Nairobi, Kenya.  The project has also provided a unique educational opportunity for American and Tanzanian students, training them to enter into this field of study.

     As you can see, Mr. Chairman, these projects represent a diverse range of research?each unique, yet each important in understanding our human history, our human condition and our human relations.  They are but a few of the many examples of outstanding research supported by NSF.  NSF supports the best science, encouraging strong disciplinary and interdisciplinary research efforts.  We believe a solid federal investment in NSF results in a more robust US economy and ensures the Nation's leadership role in basic scientific research, science education, and scientific breakthroughs.

And so it goes...

33 posted on 02/27/2008 9:52:33 PM PST by ForGod'sSake (ABCNNBCBS: An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: decimon

5000 years of pre-Columbian history and it was human sacrifice from first to last? Gross.

When guys like Cortez and Pizarro can make a credible claim to be enlightened liberators, there’s something wrong with your civilization. Of course, the vivisection should have been a dead giveaway. So to speak.

34 posted on 02/27/2008 10:08:08 PM PST by Burma Jones
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fred Nerks

Thanks FN.

35 posted on 02/28/2008 12:44:17 AM PST by SunkenCiv ( updated Tuesday, February 19, 2008)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: ForGod'sSake

and so it goes...


“...The Caral culture could mobilize enormous amounts of manpower to construct the massive structures of the city and to irrigate large areas of farmland. This could only have been done by a society divided into classes. A class is a social group that plays a distinct role in the productive process, primarily agriculture in early cultures. A ruling group (e.g., aristocrats, priests, a god-king) expropriated the surplus labor of a subordinate group by purchase, or, most likely in the case of Caral, by force.

Class societies existed in the Americas for thousands of years before European contact. The Spanish conquistadors encountered the highly evolved Inca Empire when they invaded Peru at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Incas had a ruling class of nobles and priests, an absolute monarch, and a population of small farmers that were required to work on the lands of the upper classes...

(sorta kinda like the Egytpians?)

...This suggests that the class societies of the Western and Eastern hemispheres independently emerged from previous, more egalitarian tribal societies according to the same basic laws.

(I’m a little too stupid to comprehend this...are they trying to say that life became somewhat more complicated when we stopped living in caves?)

36 posted on 02/28/2008 1:10:58 AM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-36 last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson