Posted by: paojc | October 15, 2008

The Preceramic Period

The Preceramic Period  

10,000 – 1,800 b.C.

 

The Preceramic Period  is considered between the 10,000 – 1,800 years b.C. according to the research proposed by John Rowe (1962) and Edward Lanning (1967),  based on a series of common cultural and technological facts.

The Preceramic is defined in three periods:

 

The Early Preceramic

10,000 – 6, 000 b. C.

 

Adaptation to the environment started, humans worked hunting or fishing.

 

The Middle Preceramic

6,000-3,500 b.C

 

Plants and animals started to be domesticated, human villages were organized in social levels to produce more complicated activities.

The weather conditions 5,800 years ago changed. The Humboldt current, of cold water, came to its present position 5ª south latitude from its original 12ª south latitude, which produced an increasing of marine resources, specially of sardines that were the basic subsistence of coastal groups and made possible the permanent settlement and the population increasing. In the other hand the right manage of water carrying from rivers  inside valleys was determinant for the domestication of  important plants such as maize, cotton, potato, oca, achira, lima bean, chilli pepper and others that permitted the sprouting  of complex  societies during the Late Preceramic.

 

 

The Late Preceramic Period

3, 500 – 1, 800 b.C.

 

This was a decisive period during which the beginning of more complex social organization becomes apparent and societies exhibit the progressive urbanization including public architecture on a grand scale.

 

While the economies of communities in the coastlands remained basically dependent on extractive industry for their subsistence by exploiting the rich potential in marine resources, the people also were practicing agriculture and herding.

 

Settlement in the Eastern Andean forests took another course, arising from the constant need to shift village locations for ecological reasons. Natural routes following the network of waterways made migration easy.

The alluvial plains of those rivers were favourable for settlement and agriculture, which could be supplemented by hunting, fishing and gathering.

 

Between 3500 and 3000 B.C. the number of village settlers near the coast increased. Squash, gourds, kidney and lima beans were cultivated, as well as cotton. These crops and others such as maize were not spread or domesticated. As a cultural phenomenon, farming of cotton was sufficiently significant to define a stage within the Late Preceramic Period. Intense exploitation of this crop for textiles replaced earlier dependence on products made from cactus, and junco-sedge fibbers and skins.

 

Judging by the internal differentiation visible in the relative sizes of the buildings, their forms and material used in their construction, there began on the Peruvian littoral the phenomenon of  increasing complexity in the settlements. Population increases and its resultant pressures are manifest in the greater number, scale and interconnection of sites, and these now contain a variety of constructive units. The various stages in this process or urbanization are not understood but the innovations it introduced became evident in the linked concentrations of ambitious structures, comprising large and specialized buildings such as platforms, pyramids, or raised enclosures designed for purposes other than domestic.

 

 

The settlements in the highlands are represented by those of the Mito Tradition, which had been studied at the sites of Kotosh, Shillacoto and Wairajirca in the Huánuco Region of the Northern Highlands, La Galagada in the Tablachaca Valley and Piruru in the Tantamayo drainage.

These distinctive constructions were created to provide an environment for religious ceremonies in which the burning of offerings was a critical element. The excellent condition of most buried structures, and the care with which they had been covered, led investigators to refer to this practice as “temple entombment”. Apparently these centres shared a set of religious beliefs which entailed similar kinds of ritual activities and, consequently, required a similar type of ceremonial building.

The underlying religious ideology and its material expression is sacred architecture has been called the Kotosh Religious Tradition. Although there are differences in the ritual chambers, the core architectural element of these buildings that allowed the rites to be performed was always maintained. 

 

In the area of the Central Coastlands it is notice an Initial Space (Chu – 2008) composed by the sites between Huaura and Fortaleza where is clear the transition from simple villages to complex ceremonial centres. Currently, the sites Aspero, Bandurria, El Paraiso, Rio Seco, and Vichama correspond to this Initial Space and  the Caral site represent the organizational achievement  with complex  ceremonial architecture.

 

Posted by: paojc | October 15, 2008

The Initial Sites in The Central Coastland

The Initial Sites in the Central Coastland

Áspero

Huaca de los Idolos

 Is located ay Supe Port, Barranca, Lima. It was excavated by Max Uhle in 1905 and Julio C. Tello in 1927. In 1941 Gordon Willey and John Corbett identified it as a non ceramic site; later 1973 Willey and Moseley reviewed it and confirm that it was a site from the Preceramic period. There are found 7 definite platform mounds, the largest Huaca de los Idolos, is an entirely artificial construction of stone and clay.  According to the date evaluations, Huaca de los Idolos and Huaca de los Sacrificios have the latest in the area, 3950  years b. C. 

Loose mesh bags of crushed sedge were used to carry the stone fill, and were deposited along the rock. Made using a simple looping technique, known as SHICRA , are characteristic of early monumental architecture on Peruvian Coast. 

In Huaca de los Sacrificios were found 13 unbaked clay figurines between two floors, most of them were females, and four appear to be pregnant.

A fragment of beautiful wooden bowl decorated with modelled frogs was recovered with the sticks, cotton cloth and bundles of burnt and unburnt cloth were the most common offerings at Aspero.

 

 El Paraiso

 It is located at the left side of Chillon River, 5 Km from the beach of Ventanilla district Lima. El Paraiso shows a high degree of planning; the faces of the walls were plastered with gray or pink clay. Rooms were periodically filled with bagged –fill and ovoid adobes to raise the level of the structure and create a new surface for new buildings.

The excellent preservation of the SHICRA bags made it possible to calculate that the average led of fill carried from the quarrying area near by weighed about 26 kilos.

The building technology utilized is not itself particularly elaborate, nor do the artefacts associated with these constructions point to greater specialization.

An enormous amount of collective labour was mobilized to create these monuments use by the community. It is this communal focus of Andean society and its capacity to mobilize labour towards public centres which distinguishes the beginning of Andean Civilization from most others, and was critical to shaping its development.

 

Bandurria

 Pyramid Mound, Central Stair and Sunken Pit

It is located at the south side of Huaura River, 1 Km from the sea.

 

 

It was discovered by Domingo Torero in 1973, when a serious destruction affected the site caused by an irrigation channel

Torero rescued archaeological material in cooperation with local people and students from Huacho University.

Later, arrived Rosa Fung archaeologist who excavated the site in 1977, she defined it as a primitive religious village and dated it from 3550 – 2900 years b. C.

Since 1998 Alejandro Chu is working in the investigation, restoration and conservation of the site in collaboration with the Huaura Municipality.

Bandurria is composed by a Monumental Section where there are 10 mounds and by a Domestic Section.  Excavations have revealed that the Mound number 1 has several flat platforms, a central staircase and a circular sunken square; the walls were built with medium pebbles and clay mortar and seemed that were covered by a thin clay layer.

The circular sunken square has 15 meters diameter, two trapezoid staircases located south and north,

It is notable that in the platforms fillings any “Shicra” was found as it is usual in the Preceramic mounds; the fillings had gravel, debris and sand. There were found in the ceremonial sunken square some offerings left during the last occupation, apparently in an abandonment ceremony. Some pins and needles made of bones, textiles and very small pumpkins.

Currently are planned to excavate the Mound number 6 because it might be the earliest construction, according to the archaeologist Alejandro Chu (20008), the domestic section is going to be investigated soon too.

Bandurria Environment

Posted by: paojc | October 15, 2008

The Ancient Civilization of Caral

The Ancient Civilization of Caral

 

It is consider being the oldest urban centre with the greatest progress in architecture, astronomy and religion.   Caral is also considered to be the basis for the founding of Andean technology and ideology. There is no other such a grand urban center in America older than this, while Egypt was building the pyramids, Caral was already in Peru.

 

Caral is located in the valley of the Supe river, where large cotton farmlands were being cultivated to support a large population of farmers, artisans, traders and lastly, the priests who must have developed a system of tribute, architecture, agriculture and religion because Caral was considered to be a sacred land, the most popular of its time.  many people would go to Caral from farther urban complexes to present offerings to the main deity.

 

 

There are 7 grand pyramids surrounded by others smaller structures. In the high section there are the majority of the pyramids surrounded a great plaza.

In the low section there is the Anfiteatro pyramid and some more aligned with this.

Each pyramid had a special activity with a  different function in the social and religious order.

The most important structures are:

 

-         The Pyramid Mayor is the biggest and has a circular sunken square.

-         The Pyramid of Galleria, it has subterranean white painted and decorated galleries.

-          The Pyramid of Huanca, it is aligned with a stone that probably had an astronomical use.

-          The Pyramid of Anfiteatro, is the most important from the low section, has a circular sunken square and is found the Altar of the Sacred Fire ( Mito Tradition).

 

There is a residential area on the periphery of the structures where lived the common people of Caral.

 

 

 

 

 

According to the investigations, the sunken pit and the pyramid with platforms were part of an agricultural calendar that might indicate the solstices and equinoxes. That demonstrates that advances in astronomy and geometry had gone farther than in Central America. The location next to the Supe River was of vital importance for the growth of this society. they used irrigation channels to water their cotton, squash, potatoes, gourds, kidney and lima beans.

                                                                              

The excess of production was controlled by an administrator–priest who used it to support construction of pyramids, sunken pits, houses, or any other public structure through the people’s tribute to the gods.  This control was possible thanks to a mathematical technique perfectly used by the Incas, and apparently first used  in Caral, where one Quipu was found by the archaeologist Ruth Shady who believes that this math technique appeared first in Caral and was improved in the time until the

Incas employed it.

 

Besides the pyramids – some  musical instruments with an impressive ritual sound were found in mounds and sunken pits in Caral.  These were made of birds’ and camels’ bones.  Also were found offerings made of mud, sea shells in  some human burials.

 

Currently the Special Archaeological Project is being led by Ruth Shady Solis, a Peruvian archaeologist who has been working on this project since the 1990`s. She made possible all the discoveries and is working in cooperation with the Peruvian Government.

 

 

Posted by: paojc | October 15, 2008

The Mito Tradition

The Mito Tradition

Kotosh

 

Located in the Huánuco Region, investigated by Izumi and Terada in 1972, is the most representative site of this period, the best known construction is the Temple of the Crossed Hands, found on the middle platform directly beneath the Temple of the Niches, the center of the floor featured a semi – subterranean fire pit for the incineration of offerings. The northern wall was decorated with a series of niches, below two of which a pair of crossed hands had been sculpted. The building itself is roughly square; the upper interiors of the walls were recessed to support a flat roof of small log beams plastered with clay. The red – painted entrance contrasted with the yellow – brown plaster covering the rest the building and, on entering the chamber, it was necessary to step down to the lower surface of the split-level floor. In the middle of the room was a stone – lined circular fire pit.

 

Religious activity among most agriculturalists tended to be calendarical, and the repetitious pattern of building and reburial at Kotosh suggested a cyclical pattern of ritual renovation. The burning of offerings in the Andes was a means of transforming material goods into a form which could by consumed by supernatural forces. Fire was a ritual agent.

 

The Galgada

 

 

It is located in the Tablachaca Valley, Ancash.

Galgada had to major mounds, the larger of which was over 15m height. This mound was terraced by three successive circular revetment walls and must have been an impressive sight. A succession of chambers with central fire pits were built in the summit. At one point one or more chambers were arrange asymmetrically on this upper platform. The earliest of these were made of river cobbles set in clay, while the later ones were constructed from trimmed fieldstone. Most of the buildings were plastered with clay and painted white, but one exception has black painted walls. Like Kotosh, the chambers at Galgada had high stone superstructures with niches decorating the interior and split – level floors. The chambers likewise had flat log roofs, and even show the same detail of stepping down into the lower floor level when entering the chamber. Most of the Late Preceramic chambers were roughly circular, though for a short interval the sub- rectangular form popular at Kotosh, Shillacoto and Piruro was adopted and then abruptly dropped. As at Kotosh, buildings were oriented to the cardinal directions, but west or north, rather than south and north. In most of the buildings, the lower portion of the interior wall projected forward slightly to form a dado, while the niches were arranged symmetrically above it. An analogous division of the interior walls was achieved at Kotosh by using a band of projecting stones known as a stringcourse. None of the numerous chambers at The Galgada show evidence of painted motifs or low-relief friezes.

 

Bibliography

 

  • The Late Preceramic and the Beginnings of Peruvian Civilization by Richard Burger

 

  • The Late Preceramic and Initial Period by Rosa Fung

 

 

  • Caral, Ciudad más Antigua de America by Ruth Shady

 

  • Bandurria, Arena, Mar y Humedal en el Surgimiento de la Civilización Andina by Alejandro Chu Barrera

 

Posted by: paojc | September 25, 2008

Archeology in Peru

If you like lost worlds, if you enjoy of amazing stories of the past and you like follow ancient  routes, this is a page for you.

Archeology in Peru has been studied since the 1800`s first by travelers and adventurers, then by specialized archaeologists, until now we have many surprises about the ancient Andean people in this region who created a different world from the west and develop an magnificent society with different rules and beliefs.

Wonderful architecture, amazing organization, incredible religion, now archaeologists and explorers like you and me go behind this ancient steps.

Come on! Enjoy this

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