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Ancient Man and His First Civilizations

South America

 

 

Norte Chico

The enigma of ancient South American development, [cultures evolving to the building of Monumental Structures BEFORE they have even learned to make ceramics - pottery], is wonderfully illustrated by what many now consider the region’s very first civilization, the Norte Chico civilization in the Norte Chico region of coastal central Peru, some even argue that Norte Chico is the oldest civilization in the Americas. The Norte Chico civilization consisted of about thirty major population centers. The oldest center, dating from about 9,210 B.C. only provides some indication of human settlement in the early Archaic era. But by 3,200 B.C, human settlement and communal construction are readily apparent.

The most notable of the Norte Chico cities is Caral in the Supe Valley: Caral excavations were begun in 1994 by Ruth Shady Solís, a Peruvian anthropologist and archeologist. She is also founder and director of the Archeological project Caral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ruins of Caral are located in an arid region, but with nearby rivers, some 14 miles from the coast and 120 miles north of Peru’s modern capital city of Lima. Caral was inhabited between 2627 B.C. and 2020 B.C. and its land area was about 150 acres. Caral city was comprised of six pyramids (or platform mounds), two plazas, an amphitheatre, and ordinary houses. The population is estimated to have been about 3,000. The living arrangement seems to have been large, well kept rooms atop the pyramids for the elite, ground-level complexes for craftsmen, and shabbier outlying shantytowns for workers.

The Norte Chico people were apparently very peaceful people, no evidence exists of weapons or defensive fortifications, and no evidence exists of Human sacrifice. In one of the pyramids they uncovered 32 flutes made of condor and pelican bones and 37 cornets made of deer and llama bones, also found was a primitive quipu. It is speculated that the city sustained itself by cotton farming; this was accomplished by building canals to irrigate cotton fields with river water. This cotton was then used to make textiles such as fishing nets, carry bags, and clothing. These textiles where in turn used to trade for seafood from the coast and produce from the interior, the civilization apparently had wide-ranging trade contacts.

 

 

 

 

The largest pyramid of Caral is Pirámide Mayor; which is 450 ft. By 500 ft. and 60 ft. tall. A 30-foot-wide staircase rises from a sunken circular plaza at the foot of the pyramid, passing over three terraced levels until it reaches the top of the platform. The platform top contains the remains of an atrium and a large fireplace.

 

 

Evidence suggests that the pyramids were built by stuffing reed bags filled with stones gathered from hillside quarry’s and riverbanks against a retaining wall. This process was repeated until the mound had reached the desired dimensions and height. Although analysis is not available, the retaining walls appear to be made of random sized stones bonded together with mortar (probably lime and sand). It was the remains of the reed bags that provided the material for radiocarbon dating of the sites, the oldest of these bags, was dated to 2627 B.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 1800 B.C, the Norte Chico civilization began to decline, the circumstances and final time of its decline is unknown. It would be another thousand years before the appearance of the next great Peruvian culture, the Chavín.

 

 

The enigma of the Norte Chico civilization is because of what is missing.

There appears to have been no war: Conflict and war are the normal impetuses for congregating in cities so as to have a common defense.

There was no pottery: only gourds (vessels made of the dried shells of Melons, Pumpkins etc.) Mastering pottery making is a normal stage in a culture’s development. Without pottery it is impossible for the people to boil food, everything would have had to be roasted. Improving the taste, variety, and preparation of food, is one of the first things people normally attend to.

There was no art: save for a few gourds painted with a god figure and the flutes. The urge to produce art is another of the things one would expect of a developing culture BEFORE they progressed to the point of making monumental structures.

So it is that all of the in-between accomplishments normally associated with the pristine development of a civilization, are missing with the Norte Chico civilization. Logically it doesn’t make sense, but we also know that Human development always makes sense, something is missing. They also found abundant evidence of drug use that is normally associated with Shamanism.

That last bit of information puts us on the right track: Pyramids, Shamanism: Only one people in the Americas combine those two - The Olmec.

 

Stepping back, and combining this information with data gleaned from other American civilizations, then looking at the whole world picture:

We realize that Norte Chico is simply the last stop for the ancient East Africans who began their migrations some 50,000 years ago: They went up through Nubia (Sudan) – and they built pyramids, through Egypt – and built pyramids, through Sumer (Iraq) – and built pyramid-like Ziggarats, through Elam (Iran) – and built pyramid-like Ziggarats, through China – and built pyramids, through North America - and built pyramid-like mounds, through Mesoamerica – and built pyramids, until they had completely spanned the globe and taught pyramid building in South America. At each place the routine was the same, they settled and created a new civilization, then over time, some moved on to explore new areas.

To be clear on this: the assertion is not that the Norte Chico were of Olmec stock, just that there was contact and influence. The Olmec themselves would have been far more advanced at this time. The Norte Chico may well have been members of the very first East African migration, some 60-70,000 years ago, (this group did not go north, but rather followed a southern coastal route across the Arabian peninsula). Conventionally, it is believed that these people reached Australia almost 60,000 years ago, and reached the Americas some 50,000 years ago. It has already been firmly established that the first Humans in the Americas, were of this stock. The skeletal remains of a small child were also found at Caral, DNA analysis of these remains should shed light on the exact ethnicity of the Norte Chico. Another aspect of Norte Chico, is that it forces those who date the Olmec at 1,200 B.C. to re-evaluate that ill-advised conclusion. Other evidences of Olmec contact in South America follow.

Note: The fact that Egyptians had ocean-going ships at this time, and the documented existence of an Egyptian ship-wreak in Australia, also at this time, is purposely discounted. Crossing the Pacific, is quite different from reaching Australia. Crossing the Atlantic and then going overland, while possible, seems unlikely, and does not jibe with other aspects. Click here for the story of the Egyptian ship-wreak in Australia. <<Click>>

 

Those wishing to pursue an understanding of the Human Journey, and Specifics of the ancient East African migrations, which led to Modern Man's colonization of the entire world; please visit the National Geographic – Genographic Project – Atlas of the Human Journey. Though as one would expect, when it comes to European and Anatolian (Turkey) settlement, it is not only inaccurate, it is downright Racist. But what would you expect?  https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/atlas.html

 

 

Ecuador

In South America, it is in Ecuador that we find the first evidence of an actual "Culture" in terms of art forms. Even though Man had been in South American for 50,000 years or more, it is not until the period of 15,000 B.C. through to about 3200 B.C, that we see the first signs of development. It is at about 3200 B.C, that we first see the effects of Olmec culture and technology having filtered south, in that datable pottery, is now known to exist in South America - at Valdivia.

During the initial time, there was a long and steady period of development in the region, and this development coincided with a constant increase in population. Although the great cities and some of the other major cultural activities, that would later develop farther south, were not found in Ecuador, there was nevertheless, a considerable cultural accomplishment there. And from this early beginning grew the Valdivia culture.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Valdivia

The Valdivia Culture thrived on the coast of Ecuador between 3,500 and 1,800 B.C. This culture was discovered in 1956 by the Ecuadorian archeologist Emilio Estrada. Based on a comparison of archeological remains and pottery styles, Estrada and the American archeologist Betty Meggers suggested that a relationship between the people of Ecuador and the Jomon people of Japan had existed in ancient times, {the original inhabitants of Japan - the Ainu and Jomon - were Not Mongol as are the current inhabitants - they were of the original East African Ancients}.

Estrada and Meggers theorized that these original Japanese had conducted trans-Pacific trade with the Americas. This theory was revolutionary for at that time, no evidence of contact between the two populations had previously been established. There was however, no evidence of continuing contact or on-going trade. Later developments make it clear that the contact was really with the Olmec branch of these ancient migrants, not the Jomon.

The Valdivia lived in communities with homes built in a circle around a central plaza. They were a sedentary people who lived off of farming and fishing, though they occasionally hunted game, such as deer. From remains that have been found, it has been determined that Valdivians cultivated corn, kidney beans, squash, cassava, hot peppers and cotton plants. They used the cotton to make their clothes. Valdivian pottery over time, became large, and intricate, they generally used red and gray colors. Their ceramics and stone works, show a progression from simple to more complicated works.

 

Peru

We now go to Huaca Prieta in the Chicama Valley, on the northern coast of Peru. Here we find monumental ceremonial mounds, built around 2500 B.C. We also find highly skilled cotton weaving at this site, as well as gourds {vessels made of the dried shells of Melons, Pumpkins etc.}, these were carved with stylized geometric motifs. Another Pre-Ceramic site on the northern Peruvian coast is Las Haldas: here pyramids and platform temples were constructed at about 1800 B.C.

"El Paraido" and "Chuquintanta" on the central Peruvian coast, are the region's largest excavated Pre-Ceramic sites. Here various residential complexes of clay and stone were constructed by building rooms and terraces one on top of another, much the same as in the Pueblo towns of the southwestern United States. Another important Pre-Ceramic site is Kotosh in the northern highlands of Peru. At Kotosh, terraced temples were made of fieldstone set in earth and decorated with clay relief’s of crossed hands.

Here again, they learnt to make monumental structures, before they learned to make pottery, it is a clear indication of outside influence. Two important cultures that would later develop in Peru during the Pre-Classic period, were Chavín de Huántar and Paracas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chavin

The Chavin culture is known for its beautiful art and design, but Chavin was also innovative with metallurgy and textile production. Cloth production was revolutionized during the time of the Chavin. New techniques and materials were developed, including the use of camel hair, textile painting, and the "resist" type painting style, which is similar to modern day tie-dying. Metalworking also developed and the Chavín excelled at making hammered gold ornaments.

 

 

 

 

The Paracas

South of the Chavín region, another high culture developed around the Paracas Peninsula. This civilization produced a famous thin-walled pottery and some of the most extraordinary textiles in existence. Great woven mantles, ponchos, and small tapestries were created between 1000 and 250 B.C. Human remains found at Chavin show indications of cranial surgery and the odd, but common practice (in Meso and South America), of head shaping for beauty.

 

 

 

 

The Moche

Just as elements from the Chavín civilization filtered south to influence the Paracas people, so the Paracas people influenced a cultural development in the north, around the Virú, Chicama, and Moche valleys, {about 250 B.C. to 750 A.D.}. The most important of these cultures - is commonly called the Moche - which is a name taken from the excavated site in the Moche river valley. {This place appears to have been the capital or chief city of the Moche people}.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moche settlements extended along the hot, arid coast of northern Peru from the Lambayeque River valley, south for more than 215 miles to the Nepeña River valley. There were no towns built in the northern valleys however, here dispersed communities were built in such a way, so as not to waste the valuable irrigated agricultural lands. In these areas Ceremonial centers seem to have served as the social and cultural focal points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moche Erotic Art

The Moche also expressed their Erotic side in Pottery. Click here for examples of erotic Moche Pottery >>>

 

 

The Moche people developed an art form that includes some of the finest sculpture in the history of pottery. The range of designs makes these objects remarkable not only as art, but also as a record of the civilization from which they came. The extensive number of objects produced, suggests that the civilization was an extremely populous one, in which power and wealth were major goals.

 

The ascension of the Moche occurred after the gradual demise of the Chavin culture. The demise of Chavin culture ended several centuries of political unification within northern Peru. As the small states of northern Peru began to break away from what had been a unified government, and as the citizens learned to find their own way, each state branched off and began to develop its own artistic style. These evolved into city-states, which were run through a centralized government. As the artistic style of the Moche evolved, and spread throughout northern Peru, it became the standard form of all the states.

Moche architecture featured flat-topped pyramids and ramped platforms with courtyards and plazas. Near Trujillo in the Moche River valley, there still exists two giant structures, known as the Temple of the Sun (Huaca del Sol - a stepped pyramid) and the Temple of the Moon (Huaca de la Luna - a terraced platform with large rooms and courtyards).

Much of what is known about the Moche has been deciphered from complex illustrations, known as fine-line paintings that appear on thousands of ceramic vessels. What these drawings show, appears to be highly stylized ceremonial combat in which warriors fought one-on-one for the purpose of producing a few vanquished prisoners.

These unfortunates were needed to fill a central role in the sacrifice ceremony that followed battle. Drawing after drawing shows how the prisoners were first stripped of clothing and battle equipment, and then, naked and leashed around the neck with a rope, brought back to a ceremonial center. There the prisoners’ throats were cut, their blood consumed by the ceremony participants, and finally their bodies dismembered.

Although a warrior society, the Moche did have a taste for luxury. Moche tombs were filled with some of the most splendid pottery and metalwork of the Central Andean Area. Moche ceramics, are the best known of ancient Peruvian artifacts, and are among the finest ever known. Their portrait-head effigy pots are especially notable for realistically depicting human features and portraying emotion. The reasons for the demise of the Moche are unknown, they may have succumbed to earthquakes, prolonged drought, or catastrophic flooding.

 

 

 

 

The Recuay

Inland, in the northern highlands of Peru, there also existed a contemporaneous, and similar culture to the Moche. This was known as the "Recuay" culture in the Callejón de Huaylas Valley of Peru.

 

 

 

The Nazca

Further south, the Nazca of Peru's southern coastal region, were roughly contemporary with the Moche. Like their Paracas predecessors, the Nazca produced little architecture, but excelled at making textiles and pottery with colorful designs. The most unusual aspect of these people are their Nazca lines. These are drawings in the earth of geometric shapes, animals, birds, and fish that can be fully recognized only from the air. Their purpose was certainly ceremonial, but the context is unknown. The lines were made by scraping away dark upper surface stones on the surface of the ground to reveal a lighter substratum. The Nazca were also known for their practice of shrinking heads!

 

 

 

The Pucara

Now we move to the northern basin of Lake Titicaca in southern Peru. The Pucara were the culture that developed here. This site is known for its unusual horseshoe-shaped temple of stone masonry. Pucará-style stone sculptures and Pucará pottery, show resemblances to those of Tiwanaku (they are next), in the southern Titicaca basin. Because the earlier levels at Tiwanaku show Pucará-type pottery, it is apparent that the Pucará culture was a forerunner of the Classic Tiwanaku styles. The Pucará are generally dated from 300 B.C. to 300 A.D. in the Early Intermediate Period.

 

 

The Tiwanaku

Now we move to the southeast where another major civilization had been developing: the Tiwanaku/Tiahuanacu in Bolivia. Tiwanaku is an ancient city in the south-Central Andean highlands of Bolivia, on the eastern shore of Lake Titicaca. Although Tiahuanacu was settled as early as about 200 B.C, it was between 200 A.D. and 600 A.D. that this urban complex became the center of another major Classic period civilization. Unfortunately the inhabitants of Tiwanaku had no written language.

Tiwanaku art and architecture was rather stiff, decorative motifs and religious imagery are rigid in appearance. Stone was their material of choice, it was used for their walled cities as well as huge doorways with intricately carved paneling. Stone was also used to paved their roads. Both their buildings and sculpture are characterized by a monumental effect and monolithic appearance.

As an example, their "Gateway of the Sun" at Tiwanaku, is cut from a single stone, and ornamented with finely executed relief decoration. Though only 12 feet in height, it appears more monumental because of its design. Scattered throughout this area are pillar-like monolithic statues that reach heights of more than 20 ft. they are decorated with low-relief detailing.

Oddly though, things are completely different with their textiles. They produced ponchos, caps, pouches, and other textile pieces that show great variety, with fantastically tight weaves, and a wonderful richness of color. Though Tiwanaku art was known all over the western coast of South America, it is not known if Tiwanaku was part of an Empire politically, or simply an independent cultural and commercial entity. In any case Tiwanaku collapsed around 1100 A.D, the city was abandoned, and its characteristic art style vanished.

 

 

 

 

 

Please visit the "Additional Material Area" for many more photographs of each civilization, and related material <Click>

 

 

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