Science & Technology

Archaeologists: Peace reigned within Americas’ oldest civilization

By Paula Bayarte

Lima, Oct 17 (EFE).- Neither weapons nor walls. The Caral civilization, the most ancient in the Americas, left no warlike remains, proving that peace reigned among that people and their contemporaries living in pre-Hispanic Peru, the head of an archaeological dig that is still yielding up its secrets – after almost three decades of study – said Monday.

Researchers have not found a single walled city, something that has certainly turned up elsewhere in the world, and no weapons, and the relationship has always been linked with the exchange of products and knowledge with other peoples, said the director of the Caral Archaeological Zone, Rush Shady Solis, at a press conference.

The Lupe Valley, located north of Lima, is a mountainous zone near the coast and not far from the jungle, which was the home of the Caral civilization between approximately 3,000 and 1,800 B.C.E.

Shady arrived in the valley in 1994 with a curiosity that made her certain that underneath the huge mounds of earth that looked like hills would be found the structures erected by a pre-Hispanic culture.

What she discovered went far beyond that, given that the valley is sprinkled with 25 sites that contain square-based pyramids, round plazas and innumerable remains like burials, tools and statuettes that have helped researchers understand a culture that attained relatively high scientific development and maintained connections with nearby peoples.

The peaceful environment surrounding this civilization, Shady said, fostered an “intercultural relationship” with peoples of modern-day Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile, “but always with missions of peace.”

The archaeologist, who discovered and named the Caral civilization, emphasized that there is still much to learn about the worldview of “living well” that characterized the Caral culture vis-a-vis its neighbors and surrounding nature.

It was a society that knew how to live in harmony with nature, with the hills, the earth which they called Pachamama, the water of the Mamacocha rivers, these being deities to which respect was owed, she said in discussing the 28 years of archaeological research she headed in the area.

The archaeological finds pertaining to the Caral culture have brought with them continued surprises as well as signs of the advanced technological and scientific knowledge of this people who built earthquake-proof structures.

The team headed by Shady has discovered numerous fire altars inside various buildings that functioned using underground conduits thanks to fluid mechanics, and researchers have also found models of urban centers that show the Caral people’s planning and organizational abilities.

In addition, the findings include evidence that the Caral people knew how to take advantage of natural resources like the sun and wind to dry anchovies, a product that they sold and traded with other peoples at markets and fairs.

That in a country as seismically active as Peru multi-story buildings have remained standing for thousands of years is a mystery that now has an answer, given that these structures were designed with a special earthquake-proof technology.

Shady said that we don’t pay enough attention to what we’ve inherited from past civilizations, explaining that Japanese archaeological teams have also been astonished by Caral.

Another of the most outstanding discoveries of the Caral culture is the fact that they genetically altered cotton to obtain fibers of different colors, something that has not been seen in any other civilization in the world, Shady said.

She insisted that over the almost three decades of the project, the team has not limited itself to excavating and studying the remains of the Caral culture, but has also highlighted the poverty of many communities that currently inhabit the same valley.

She denounced the current lack of urban and other planning in the area, comparing it with what had prevailed thousands of years ago, criticizing the poor management of water resources, the desertification of the soil and the loss of traditional values that are being preserved in other parts of Peru.

It is very important for the story of the Caral civilization to be transmitted to new generations because it fosters a cultural identity that is lacking among Peruvians nowadays, she concluded.

EFE pbc/gdl/szg/bp

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