Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Civilization Discovered in Peru?

Wow - this is some pretty stunning news. I'll be following closely to see what subsequent reports (if any) reveal. Is this the same civilization that built Caral, for instance? Someone else?
Photo, right: In this photo released by Peru's Andina Agency, archeologist Walter Alva points out a white and red mural depicting a deer hunted in a net, in Lambayeque, Peru, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. A team of Peruvian archeologists have excavated a 4,000-year-old temple near Peru's northern coast. The temple has a staircase leading to an altar Alva said was used for worshipping fire and making offerings to the deities. 10:16 a.m. ET, 11/11/07

Ancient Peru Temple, Mural Excavated
Published: November 11, 2007
Filed at 3:21 p.m. ET

LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Carbon dating tests and excavation of a colorful pre-Incan temple indicate that it was built thousands of years ago by an advanced civilization, a prominent archaeologist said in comments published Sunday by a Peruvian newspaper.

Unearthed in Peru's archeologically rich northern coastal desert, the temple has a staircase leading to an altar that was used for worshipping fire and making offerings to deities, Walter Alva, who headed the three-month excavation, told El Comercio.

Some of the walls of the 27,000-square-foot site -- almost half the size of a football field -- were painted, and a white and red mural depicts a deer being hunted with a net.

Alva said the temple was apparently constructed by an ''advanced civilization'' because it was built with mud bricks made from sediment found in local rivers, instead of rocks.

''This discovery shows an architectural and iconographic tradition different from what has been known until now,'' said Alva, who discovered and is the museum director for another important pre-Incan find, the nearby Lords of Sipan Moche Tombs. [Emphasis added].

The carbon dating tests, conducted in the United States, indicate that the site is 4,000 years old, he claimed.

The oldest known city in the Americas is Caral, also near the Peruvian coast, which researchers dated to 2627 B.C.
Caral is a stunning site, and dates back to the same time as when the pyramids were being build in Egypt, the Indus Valley civilization was flourishing, the Iranian plain was filled with sophisticated cities that traded with each other and outside areas over wide networks, and Sumer was producing incredibly beautiful arts and crafts, the likes of which Woolley eventually excavated at the Royal Tombs of Ur. People who think of the Americas as a cultural backwater during this great blossoming of civilization in the Old World are behind the times, darlings!

Note regarding the photo above: The archaeologist is pointing to a mural not on camera! The mural on the wall behind him doesn't appear to me to be red and white - it looks like black, white and gold colors to me. And - I have to say - the same colors appear to be on the wall the archaeologist is pointing to - no red in sight. Where is he seeing red?

Back to the mural on the wall behind: Is that a net? - it might be. But perhaps it's meant to be a grid, perhaps the lay-out of a sacred board game? Or perhaps, as in the way of the ancient Egyptians, for instance, it's deliberately ambiguous and pun-like, and could be interpreted in several different ways! I've often had that feeling when looking at carvings and drawings from ancient civilizations in the Americas. Like we're missing something, not quite getting it...

The photo comes from coverage at MSNBC.

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