Category Archives: Peru

Maize was common in Peru 5000 years ago

It has been confirmed, after decades of debate, that the people of coastal Peru did not just live on fishing but also on farming.
Jonathan Haas et al., Evidence for maize (Zea mays) in the Late Archaic (3000–1800 B.C.) in the Norte Chico region of Peru. PNAS 2013. Pay per view (for six months) → LINK [doi: 10.1073/pnas.1219425110]


For more than 40 y, there has been an active discussion over the presence and economic importance of maize (Zea mays) during the Late Archaic period (3000–1800 B.C.) in ancient Peru. The evidence for Late Archaic maize has been limited, leading to the interpretation that it was present but used primarily for ceremonial purposes. Archaeological testing at a number of sites in the Norte Chico region of the north central coast provides a broad range of empirical data on the production, processing, and consumption of maize. New data drawn from coprolites, pollen records, and stone tool residues, combined with 126 radiocarbon dates, demonstrate that maize was widely grown, intensively processed, and constituted a primary component of the diet throughout the period from 3000 to 1800 B.C.

See also: Science Daily.

Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Latin America, Neolithic, Peru


5000 years old temple found near Lima, Peru

Archaeologists have uncovered one of the oldest temples of America in El Paraíso, a rich archaeological site located 40 km northwest of Lima. 
The pyramidal structure is estimated to be c. 5000 years old (although awaiting radiocarbon dating), much much older than the Incas and rather contemporary of the pyramids of Egypt, for example. It confirms that the area of Lima was a ceremonial center for the ancient peoples of Peru.
The Temple of Fire, as it was nicknamed by the discoverers, contains a hearth at its center, which they suspect was a key part of their rituals. It is built of stone covered in fine yellow clay, which shows some indications of having been painted in red colors.
The ritual site is located close both to the coast and to the valley, allowing for it to interact with both the coastal fishing economy and the beginnings of agriculture in the interior, they say. The prehistorical period of this building is known as the Pre-Ceramic Age (c. 3600-1800 BCE). 
Sources: BBC, El Universo[es] (via Pileta).

Update: see the interesting comments below by Raimo Kangasniemi, who argues that several sites (Áspero, La Galgada, Caral, all them in Peru) are roughly contemporary of this one, indicating a growing dedication of resources to ritual/religious buildings already in the Pre-Ceramic Period V, also elsewhere.


Posted by on February 13, 2013 in America, Latin America, Native Americans, Neolithic, Peru