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Researchers in Peru have discovered three statues and two representations of faces believed to be from the Caral civilization.
The statues have been found inside a reed basket near the ancient city of Vichama, in northern Peru, from where it is the original Caral civilization, which is located in the north of Lima on the Peruvian coast. Two of the statues represent a man and a woman, both naked, painted in white, black and red and may be of people with important political functions in Caral society; while the third statue has 28 fingers and red dots on its face, and is thought to show a priestess. The other objects found are two representations of women's faces made of clay.
The Caral civilization appeared 5,000 years ago, which makes it one of the oldest in America. German archaeologists Max Uhle was the first to explore the Supe Valley in 1905, but a shortage of pottery and the deterioration of the remains caused investigations to be delayed for decades.
In the 1970s it was discovered that the hills surrounding the valley were not natural as thought, but were attempts to build pyramids, one of the distinctive characteristics of the Caral civilization, along with amphitheaters and wide public spaces. More intense excavations were carried out in the 1990s, leading to the discovery of the city of Sagrada in 2007 by Dr. Ruth Shady.
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The city of Caral covers an area of between 65 and 165 hectares and consists of a pyramidal complex of structures and monuments that can be dated to the last archaic period, between 3,000 and 1,800 BC. The largest of these pyramids is 60 feet high and at its top are large rooms that served as accommodation.
Dr. Shady calls Caral the ‘mother city’ of the Americans, since it is the oldest urban center discovered in America, even predating societies such as the Olmec, the Maya or the Aztec, developing at the same time as ancient civilizations such as China, Egypt or Mesopotamia.
The Peruvian Minister of Culture believes that statues were used in religious rituals carried out before the construction of new buildings. Other objects found in Caral include musical instruments such as flutes and cornets decorated with images of animals or birds.
Another distinctive feature of this civilization is that no evidence of conflicts found: no mutilated bodies, weapons or fortifications have been found. In addition, this civilization developed agriculture and came to have a complex irrigation system.
The city of Caral was abandoned in 2,100 BC.., but archaeologists have not been able to find out what the motive was.