In Peru, archaeologists have uncovered a mysterious pyramid structure in a massive archaeological complex. The pyramid may have been used for ceremonial purposes and could even have been the site of human sacrifices. It is hoped that this discovery will help researchers to better understand one of the first Andean civilizations .
The amazing discovery was made at the Sechin Archaeological Project , in the northern province of Casma in the Ancash region. This historic site dates back over 5000 years and it is believed to have been the center of an enigmatic prehistoric society known as the Sechin culture .
Little is known about this culture, but it constructed some of the first monumental buildings in the Americas. Many experts believe that it even may be the first known civilization in the Andes.
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Sechín Archaeological site (relief - head profile left). (AgainErick/ CC BY SA 3.0 )
A Sacrificial Pyramid-Structure?
Staff and experts from the Sechin Archaeological Project had been excavating the site when they made the discovery. The structure was buried deep in the ground. A team of specialists and workers had to dig 18 feet (5.49 meters) of earth and move large stones to uncover the pyramidical construction .
This structure consists of a series of steps that are made out of slabs and stones and are similar to a step-pyramid. It is an estimated 10 feet (3.05 meters) high and 15 feet (4.57 meters) wide. The pyramid is believed to be approximately 5000 years old and is in good condition.
The newly found Peruvian pyramid consists of a series of steps. (Andina)
According to Archaeology News Network , ‘the pyramid is located within the south-central part of the main building’. This massive structure was once believed to be the seat of government for the Sechin culture.
The researcher’s initial assessment is that the pyramid was used for ritual and possibly religious purposes. Archaeologist Monica Suarez, the coordinator at the Archaeological Project, stated “It served a ceremonial purpose, but we need to make further analysis.” Many cultures in the ancient Andes used similar buildings for rites and sacrifices. Living and Traveling in Peru reports that stepped pyramids were ‘aimed at attaining higher or elevated levels of spirituality.’
Skulls and a Dismembered Skeleton
There were a number of grisly discoveries made near the pyramid. For example, the archaeologists uncovered two human skulls, which after a preliminary study were determined to have belonged to an adult and a young child. At the side of the structure they found a skeleton that appears to have been dismembered. This is evidence that a person may have had his or her limbs cut off while still alive or post-mortem.
The discovery of the skulls and skeleton ‘makes the theory of ceremonial practices gain traction,’ reports Andina. It is also possible that human sacrifices took place on the stepped structure. There was a long tradition of human sacrifices in the Andes until the coming of the Spanish.
Two skulls and a dismembered skeleton have been found. ( Andina)
However, researchers at the archaeological park believe that it is also possible ‘that the stepped, pyramid-shaped structure served as a ladder to get to a higher level,’ according to Andina. The nature of the stepped structure and its location may mean that it was used to access the center of the ancient site. It may have allowed the inhabitants of the massive complex to approach the central building.
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The Peruvian Pyramid Provides Insights into a Mysterious Culture
Andina quotes Suarez as saying, “There is an adobe wall at the top, with fingerprints of Sechin inhabitants visible in the mud.” It appears that when the mud-bricks were still wet the workers deliberately left impressions with their fingers. These fingerprints can be viewed as workers signing their work.
Work will continue on the pyramidical construction and the remains found in its vicinity will be thoroughly studied. The pyramid-like structure can provide more information on the Sechin complex. More importantly, if it is proven to have been a ceremonial site, it can help researchers to better understand the mysterious people who lived here 5000 years ago.
Pendants made by the Sechin culture. (Lombard Museum/ CC BY 3.0 )
A 5000 Year Old Aboriginal Cave Painting of The “Wandjina.” Known As ‘The Sky Beings’
Those who have gone deep into the lore associated with the UFO and extraterrestrial phenomenon are no doubt aware just how far back the phenomenon may go. Today, the UFO phenomenon is documented quite well, and it’s taken very seriously as, in the past decade alone, it’s gained a tremendous amount of well-deserved credibility. But there is also the fact that the documentation of this phenomenon dates back thousands of years, there are multiple cases outlined throughout history, and many of them you can find in Dr. Jacque Valle’s book, Wonders In The Sky.
But how far back does “documentation” go? Discoveries of ancient cave art all over the world raise some interesting questions, especially ancient artwork in the form of cave paintings that were discovered in Kimberly, Australia. These specific paintings I am referring to were created approximately 5000 years ago by the native aborigines, and they illustrate entities that they referred to as the Wandjina, or sky beings.
According to Richard Dolan, one of the world’s leading UFO researchers,
In the aboriginal tradition, these beings were part of the beginning of creation and had great power over nature. One of them even became the Milky Way. When looking at the haunting images of the Wandjina, it is easy to think of gray aliens: oversized heads, no hair, large black eyes, no ears, no mouth, and pure white skin. Until the modern era of UFOs and depictions of ET beings, scholars had no point of reference for the Wandjina, no way to understand why these native Australians would create God beings so radically different in appearance from themselves. (UFOs For The 21st Century Mind)
According to Encyclopedia Britannica,
Wandjina style, also spelled Wondjina, type of depiction in Australian cave paintings of figures that represent mythological beings associated with the creation of the world. Called wandjina figures, the images are believed by modern Aborigines to have been painted by the Wondjinas, prehistoric inhabitants of the Kimberley region in northwest Australia, the only area where cave paintings in the wandjina style have been found. Among the Aborigines, each wandjina image is renovated, or repainted, by the oldest living member supposedly descended from its originator. (source)
Based on everything we know now, maybe these beings weren’t quite ‘mythical’ as suggested. Many scholars also emphasize that they were considered “cloud spirits.” (source)
Again, there are many such strange depictions found all over the world. For example, not long ago, more paintings were discovered by scholars in Chhattisgarh, India.
According to archaeologist JR Bhagat, these paintings depict extraterrestrials. The Chhattisgarh state department of archaeology and culture was planning to seek the help of NASA and ISRO for research regarding the paintings, that’s the last I heard about that.
“The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. Extensive research is needed for further findings. Chhattisgarh presently doesn’t have any such expert who could give clarity on the subject. The paintings are done in natural colours that have hardly faded despite the years. The strangely carved figures are seen holding weapon-like objects and do not have clear features. The nose and mouth are missing, and in a few pictures they are even shown wearing spacesuits. We can’t refuse the possibility of imagination by prehistoric men but humans usually fancy such things.” – JR Bhagat (source)
Dolan goes on to describe many other examples in his book.
There are many such ancient paintings on rocks and in caves around the world that depict what look like ET beings. In the northern Italian region of Lombardy, there is a rock painting dating to the Copper age, between 5,000 and 7000 years ago. It depicts apparent priests or God figures. Each of them has what appears to be a halo, except that these halos look rather more like helmets, with straight lines extending out from them.
Perhaps some of these beings are indeed ‘extraterrestrial?’ Perhaps some of these beings are still visiting us today? The realization of this seems to have occurred throughout human history, but as we discover more and become more technologically advanced ourselves, perhaps some type of global interaction is part of our future? Perhaps it has already been for beings on other worlds? Always interesting to think about, because these realizations do indeed have tremendous implications.
Archaeological Anomalies in Peru
Some ancient ruins baffle scientists. Peru is full of them. For years scholars have excavated archaeological sites in the Andes regions until their spades are blunt and their heads are sore. Enigmas like the Nazca Lines and Tiwanaku have become such an obsession for researchers they have dedicated the greater part of their careers to them, and in doing so raised more questions than they found answers. But these same anomalies and unanswered questions also attract the attention of the passing observer. The next time you’re trekking through the Andes why don’t you check in and see if you can find any missing clues.
Perhaps the biggest enigma of them all is Tiwanaku in northern Bolivia, 75km (45 miles) west of La Paz. Before it was mysteriously abandoned the city that was home to over 100,000 residents. Then the Spanish arrived and left in tatters. Although the broken stones strewn across the settlement don’t make for archaeological eye-candy, the story behind the precision-cut stones is arguably more fascinating than the Pyramids of Giza, the Mayan Temples and its Andean counter-part, Machu Picchu. Evidence of space-age technology is like something straight from Stargate and has led some researchers to speculate the architectural knowledge was given to our ancestors by extra-terrestrials.
Tiwanaku poses a major problem for archaeologists and historians. The advanced engineering found at the settlement is difficult to replicate today and continues to baffle researchers. Mainstream archaeologists date the ruins back to around 500 AD, but alternative theories proposed by renegade scholars suggest it could have been built as far back as 15,000 BCE. The site is in the process of a re-build, but work on the Akapana Pyramid was abruptly stopped by UNESCO as they argue the adobe bricks the Bolivian government are using to rebuild the 60m structure with will not restore it to its original state.
To get the most from your visit to Tiwanaku take a guided tour with one of the tour operators in La Paz. A good guide will know the history of the site together with the theories that make the attraction such a fascinating place to visit. The two hour drive into the mountain leaves around 8.30 in the morning and the 80 soles (US$30) fee includes lunch and entrance into two museums and the ruins.
Amaru Muru – Puerta de Hayu Marka
One of the strangest attractions in Peru is Puerta de Hayu Marka, located near Lake Titicaca, 35km from Puno. The bizarre-looking rock formation of this ancient site is not the strangest thing visitors will find here – that is the reserved for a random doorway cut into the side of the rock, dubbed by the locals as the “Gateway of the Gods.”
The site is commonly referred to as Amaru Muru, so called after the Inca priest who, according to legend, passed through the portal into another dimension. Locals say people have gone missing near the rock and are afraid to go to the site. The area has also been known to emanate a strange blue glow. There are many tour operators offering trips to Amaru Muru from Puno. You can take a personal guide and also visit the temple of fertility in Chuquito, but for a truly unique experience organise a trip with Shamans who perform a ritual and make offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth.)
A thirty minute drive up in to the hills from Cajamarca is yet another strange discovery in Peru. Cut into the rocks are 9km of man-made canals believed to have been dug around 1500 BCE. What is strange about these canals are the sides are precision cut to 90 degree angles and at points drive straight through the stone hills. Visitors will also find strange petroglyphs carved into the side of a rock near the entrance. To date nobody has been able to decipher what the images mean. The site is a complete mystery.
Part of the ambiguity about Cumbe Mayo is that no one can understand why the channels, used for irrigation purposes, were cut to such precision. Then there is the question of how they were cut. Today it would take lasers to achieve that degree of accuracy. To add to the mystique of the place, creeping between the forest of craggy rocks, a low mist shrouds the area in a fantasy-world of fog. There are several tour operators around the Plaza de Armas running trips to Cumbe Mayo twice a day. The guided tours take around two hours and lead you through beautiful hillside scenery and a tunnel cut through a massive rock.
Situated 400km north of Lima, Markahuasi is yet another strange rock formation scholars cannot quite understand. Labelled as the “Playground of the Gods” the hilltop site provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and features dozens of rocks that appear to have been carved into the shape of faces, snakes, fish and dragons. Some people say they are natural rock formations, but when you visit the site you will find that hard to believe. The question is though, why are they there?
The ruins at the summit indicate the site was occupied by the Inca at some point, though it is said the rock carvings existed a long time before they ruled the Andean region. There is an immense energy that emanates from the rocks and locals say Markahuasi was once used as a UFO landing site.
To get to Markahuasi from Lima, you need to take a collectivo to Chosica then a bus to San Pedro de Casta. There are only two busses a day to San Pedro so you will have to stay overnight. If you speak Spanish you may want to hire a local guide who will tell you many fascinating story’s, not all of which are believable (see above), but are worth hearing anyway.
The Nazca Lines are perhaps one of the most famous archaeological anomalies to be explored in Peru. They consist of a series of geoglyps etched into the dry desert sands in the south-west coastal region of Nazca, believed to have been put there by our ancient ancestors around 1400 years ago. The scientific community are baffled as to what purpose the images served.
Theories again point towards our ancient ancestors trying to communicate with aliens, though the markings don’t relate to anything alien like, but are in fact archetypes that were central to ancient cultures such as the condor, the humming bird, monkey and parrot. The orthodox view is that they are roads, but the fact that the lines don’t lead to anywhere leaves these flimsy views open to interpretation.
The Nazca Lines are best viewed from the air and there are several tour companies operating flights in four to six man Cessna light-aircraft. Because of their popularity with tourist you are advised to book a week or two in advance of your arrival in Nazca, otherwise you could be hanging round for days on end waiting for a vacancy.
If there is a contentious discovery that has forced scholars to rethink their lectures and change the history books, it is Caral. Up until the discovery of the 5000 year-old pyramids in the foothills of Supe, it was believed that the earliest civilisation in the Andes region was the Chavin culture that date back to 900BCE. Caral is therefore somewhat of a groundbreaking discovery.
As part of a massive rehabilitation program, the settlement of five pyramids are being restored to their original condition and the site is being geared towards tourism with the inception of a restaurant, gift shop and tourist information centre. It currently doesn’t receive many visitors and those that do must be accompanied by a guide as a safety precaution. For a unique experience hire a horse.
Once the site is restored, Caral could be as big an attraction as Machu Picchu so you should go and see it before it gets too crowded, though perhaps when it is in a more advanced state of restoration than it is in 2011. To get there take a bus from Lima to Barranca. You will need to stay overnight in either Barranca or Supe then take a collectivo to Caral.
Stone carvings at Puma Punku show advanced civilization
Puma Punku, Bolivia is the oldest archaeological site ever found. It dates close to 14,000 BC. It has been suggested by a geologist that hardened mud was found in the site, which could have been produced by an ancient flood. Puma Punku is known for its rock cutting techniques that show a high level of technology. The largest of these stone blocks is 7.81 meters long, 5.17 meters wide, averages 1.07 meters thick, and is estimated to weigh about 131 metric tons. The second largest stone block found within the Puma Punku is 7.90 meters long, 2.50 meters wide, and averages 1.86 meters thick. Its weight has been estimated to be 85.21 metric tons. Both of these stone blocks are part of the Plataforma Lítica composed of red sandstone. Based upon detailed petrographic and chemical analyses of samples from both individual stones and known quarry sites, archaeologists concluded that these and other red sandstone blocks were transported up a steep incline from a quarry roughly 10 km from Lake Titicaca. Smaller andesite blocks that were used for stone facing and carvings came from quarries within the Copacabana Peninsula about 90 km away from and across Lake Titicaca to the Puma Punku and the rest of the Tiwanaku site.
Ziggurats (multi-platform temples: 4,900 years old) to Pyramids (multi-platform tombs: 4,700 years old)
Mesopotamians revolved around their gods and so, naturally, the homes of the gods on earth: the temples. During the Ubaid Period (7,000 to 6,000 years ago), the movement towards urbanization began, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism, which has been described as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility. Moreover, it has been hypothesized that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order. a temple to Ninhursag, a Sumerian mother goddess. Like the temple at Kafahje, this too was surrounded by an oval-shaped enclosure wall. Tell al-‘Ubaid a low, relatively small tell (settlement mound) site of a prosperous Sumerian town lying on the Euphrates River about 4 miles northwest of the larger nearby city of Ur in southern Iraq‘s Dhi Qar Governorate. The majority of the remains are from the Ubaid period, for which Tell al-‘Ubaid is the type site, with an Early Dynastic temple at the highest point. The Early Dynastic temple is located on the northern edge of the site. The temple of Ninhursag goddess of childbirth and divine protector of wild animals. Erected in a time when the Sumerian cities were nearing their height of power and influence, the temple featured eight large copper-sheathed lions guarding its entrance. The insides of the structure were decorated with elegant reliefs inlaid with red limestone and mother-of-pearl.at the summit was on a cleared oval similar to that at Khafajah. The wall surrounding the temple was built by Shulgi of the Ur III Empire. Also found at Tell al-‘Ubaid was that the lower levels of the tell held smaller houses made from reeds that dated from an earlier period with similar huts, along with primitive pottery, at the lowest levels of the Ur site. The Early Dynastic period is an archaeological culture in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) that is generally dated around 4,900 to 4,350 years ago, involving multiple city-states: small states with a relatively simple structure that developed and solidified over time. It was preceded by the Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods, and saw the invention of writing and the formation of the first cities and states. This development ultimately led to the unification of much of Mesopotamia under the rule of Sargon, the first monarch of the Akkadian Empire. Despite this political fragmentation, such city-states shared a relatively homogeneous material culture. The Early Dynastic period (abbreviated ED period or ED) is an archaeological culture in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) that is generally dated to c. 2900–2350 BC. It was preceded by the Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods and saw the invention of writing and the formation of the first cities and states. The ED itself was characterized by the existence of multiple city-states: small states with a relatively simple structure that developed and solidified over time. This development ultimately led to the unification of much of Mesopotamia under the rule of Sargon, the first monarch of the Akkadian Empire. Despite this political fragmentation, the ED city-states shared a relatively homogeneous material culture. Sumerian cities like Uruk, Ur, Lagash, Umma and Nippur, located in Lower Mesopotamia, were very powerful and influential. To the north and west stretched states centered on cities such as Kish, Mari, Nagar and Ebla. The ED was preceded by the Jemdet Nasr and then succeeded by the Akkadian period, during which, for the first time in history, large parts of Mesopotamia were united under a single ruler. The entirety of the ED is now generally dated to approximately 2900–2350 BC according to the middle chronology, or 2800–2230 BC according to the short chronology. The ED was divided into the ED I, ED II, ED IIIa, and ED IIIb sub-periods. ED I–III were more or less contemporary with the Early Jezirah (EJ) I–III in Upper Mesopotamia. The exact dating of the ED sub-periods varies between scholars: with some abandoning ED II and using only Early ED and Late ED instead, and others extending ED I while allowing ED III begin earlier so that ED III were to begin immediately after ED I, with no gap between the two. The ED I (2900–2750/2700 BC) is poorly known. In Lower Mesopotamia, it shared characteristics with the final stretches of the Uruk (c. 3300–3100 BC) and Jemdet Nasr (c. 3100–2900 BC) periods. ED I is contemporary with the culture of the Scarlet Ware pottery typical of sites along the Diyala in Lower Mesopotamia, the Ninevite V Culture in Upper Mesopotamia, and the Proto-Elamite Culture in southwestern Iran. New artistic traditions developed in Lower Mesopotamia during the ED II (2750/2700–2600 BC). These traditions influenced the surrounding regions. According to later Mesopotamian historical tradition, this was the time when famous kings such as Lugalbanda, Enmerkar, Gilgamesh, and Aga ruled over Mesopotamia. Archaeologically, this sub-period has not been well-attested to in excavations of Lower Mesopotamia, leading some researchers to abandon it altogether. The ED III (2600–2350 BC) saw an expansion in the use of writing and increasing social inequality. Larger political entities developed in Upper Mesopotamia and Southwestern Iran. ED III is usually further subdivided into the ED IIIa (2600–2500/2450 BC) and ED IIIb (2500/2450–2350 BC). The Royal Cemetery at Ur and the archives of Fara and Abu Salabikh date back to ED IIIa. The ED IIIb is especially well-known through the archives of Girsu (part of Lagash) in Iraq and Ebla in Syria. The end of the ED is not defined archaeologically, but politically. The conquests of Sargon and his successors upset the political equilibrium throughout Iraq, Syria, and Iran. The conquests lasted many years into the reign of Naram-Sin of Akkad and built on ongoing conquests during the ED. The transition is much harder to pinpoint within an archaeological context. It is virtually impossible to date a site to either ED III or Akkadian period based on ceramic or architectural evidence alone. In southwestern Iran, the first half of the Early Dynastic period corresponds with the Proto-Elamite period. This culture disappears toward the middle of the third millennium, to be replaced by a less sedentary way of life. Due to the absence of written evidence and a lack of archaeological excavations targeting this period, the socio-political situation of Proto-Elamite southwestern Iran is not well understood. Iran’s Pyramid the Ziggurat of Choghazanbil, Built by the Elamites in approximately 1250 BCE, it resembles the architecture employed in the Egyptian pyramids and Mayan edifices. Iran’s Pyramid originally five stories high, but at present only three floors remain. The Elamite Dynasty built many such edifices in ancient Persia, the most important of which is the ziggurat of Choghazanbil in Khuzestan province. The Choghazanbil edifice is the only surviving ziggurat in Iran and one of the most important remnants of the Elamite civilization, which thrived in Iran. The earliest known presence of Elamites has been recorded at Awan (now called Shoushtar, a town in Khouzestan province). Choghazanbil is located in Khouzestan province 30 km southwest of Shoush (Susa), the famous capital of Elam near Dez River which bifurcates from the large Karoun River. The original name of this town and its ziggurat was Dur-Untash which, according to the inscriptions discovered at the foundations of the ruined building in that town, derived its name from Untash-Gal, the Elamite king (1275-1240 BCE) who was the founder of that town. This name has been repeatedly mentioned in Elamite and Assyrian inscriptions. The word `Dur’ in the Akkadian and Elamite languages means a town or an enclosed and distinct region. Ziggurat in Sumerian language means ascending to heaven and has its root in the Elamite word Zagratu. The highest story of the ziggurat was called Kukunnu or Kizzum which name was ascribed to all the stories.
Choghazanbil means a hill-like basket (Zanbil), because in the Dezfouli or Lori dialect Chogha means a hill. Recently, an Iranian archeologist said evidence indicates the existence of a ziggurat older than the 3,000-year-old counterpart at Choghazanbil and Haft-Tappeh in Khuzestan province. Choga-Zanbil means ‘basket mound.’ It was built around 3,250 years ago by the king Untash-Napirisha, mainly to honor the great god Inshushinak. Choghazanbil is an example of a stepped pyramidal monument Its original name was Dur Untash, which means ‘town of Untash’, but it is unlikely that many people, besides priests and servants, ever lived there. The complex is protected by three concentric walls which define the main areas of the ‘town’. The inner area is wholly taken up with a great ziggurat dedicated to the main god, which was built over an earlier square temple with storage rooms also built by Untash-Napirisha. The middle area holds eleven temples for lesser gods. It is believed that twenty-two temples were originally planned, but the king died before they could be finished, and his successors discontinued the building work. In the outer area are royal palaces, a funerary palace containing five subterranean royal tombs. The site was occupied until it was destroyed by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in 640 BC. Some scholars speculate, based on the large number of temples and sanctuaries at Chogha Zanbil, that Untash-Napirisha attempted to create a new religious center (possibly intended to replace Susa) which would unite the gods of both highland and lowland Elam at one site. The main building materials in Chogha Zanbil were mud bricks and occasionally baked bricks. The monuments were decorated with glazed baked bricks, gypsum and ornaments of faïence and glass. Ornamenting the most important buildings were thousands of baked bricks bearing inscriptions with Elamite cuneiform characters were all inscribed by hand. Glazed terracotta statues such as bulls and winged griffins guarded the entrances to the ziggurat. Near the temples of Kiririsha and Hishmitik-Ruhuratir, kilns were found that were probably used for the production of baked bricks and decorative materials. It is believed that the ziggurat was built in two stages. It took its multi-layered form in the second phase. Knowledge of Elamite history remains largely fragmentary, reconstruction being based on mainly Mesopotamian (Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian) sources. The history of Elam is conventionally divided into three periods, spanning more than two millennia. The period before the first Elamite period is known as the proto-Elamite period: Proto-Elamite: c. 3200 – c. 2700 BC (Proto-Elamite script in Susa) Old Elamite period: c. 2700 – c. 1600 BC (earliest documents until the Eparti dynasty) Middle Elamite period: c. 1500 – c. 1100 BC (Anzanite dynasty until the Babylonian invasion of Susa) and Neo-Elamite period: c. 1100 – 540 BC (characterized Assyrian and Median influence. 539 BC marks the beginning of the Achaemenid period.). The Elamites practised polytheism. Knowledge about their religion is scant, but, according to Cambridge Ancient History, at one time they had a pantheon headed by the goddess Kiririsha/Pinikir. Other deities included In-shushinak and Jabru, lord of the underworld. According to Cambridge Ancient History, “this predominance of a supreme goddess is probably a reflexion from the practice of matriarchy which at all times characterized Elamite civilization to a greater or lesser degree.” The Sialk ziggurat, in Kashan, Iran, is the oldest known ziggurat, dating to the early 3rd millennium BC. Ziggurat designs ranged from simple bases upon which a temple sat, to marvels of mathematics and construction which spanned several terraced stories and were topped with a temple. An example of a simple ziggurat is the White Temple of Uruk, in ancient Sumer. The ziggurat itself is the base on which the White Temple is set. Its purpose is to get the temple closer to the heavens, and provide access from the ground to it via steps. The Mesopotamians believed that these pyramid temples connected heaven and earth. In fact, the ziggurat at Babylon was known as Etemenankia or “House of the Platform between Heaven and Earth”. An example of an extensive and massive ziggurat is the Marduk ziggurat, or Etemenanki, of ancient Babylon. The date of its original construction is unknown, with suggested dates ranging from the fourteenth to the ninth century BC, with textual evidence suggesting it existed in the second millennium. The cultures of Mesopotamia had a polytheistic belief system, which means that the people believed in multiple gods instead of just one. They also believed in demons created by the gods, which could be good or evil. Each city had its own patron deity, some of which were connected to specialized occupations. There were also gods and goddess, the rulers of the sky, air, and more, which received more attention from worshipers. To worship the gods and goddesses, the people of Mesopotamia built large structures, called Ziggurats that served as temples. Inside the worshiping area of the Ziggurat people would place carved stone human figures with wide eyes and clasped hands, praying on behalf of the people of Mesopotamia. This area was also where people could make offerings to please the deities or regain their favor. Some of the most important deities of ancient Mesopotamia were: An (Anu) – Sky god, as well as father of the gods, An was the king of all the gods. There was no art depicting him, all information about this god was translated from ancient texts. Enki (Ea) – God of fresh water, known for his wisdom. He was depicted as a bearded man with water flowing around him. Inanna (Ishtar) – Goddess of love, fertility, and war. She was the most important of the female deities. Nanna (Sin) – God of the moon and the son of Enlil and Ninlil. He travels across the sky in his small boat of woven twigs, surrounded by the planets and stars. Utu (Shamash) – God of the sun and of justice. Between the time when the sun sets in the west and rises in the east he is in the underworld, where he decrees the fate of the dead. The civilizations of southern Mesopotamia—Sumer and Babylonia—built ziggurats in what is considered the classic form. The ziggurat was situated in a walled courtyard that was entered by means of gateways. A large platform covering an area of about an acre formed the base of the structure. The corners of the platform were aligned with the four major points of the compass. This lower platform, like the ones above it, was a solid structure made of clay and sun-dried mud brick* . Unlike the pyramids, ziggurats had no interior passageways or chambers. Most ziggurats had three staircases that led from the ground to the lower level. All the staircases were on one side of the building. Two of them ran along the outside wall, and the third was perpendicular to the wall face and extended some distance away from the base of the ziggurat. Remains of a ziggurat at Ur indicate that only one staircase led to the top of the building. At the top of the ziggurat was a “high temple” to the local god. A “lower temple” for other gods was usually located at the base of the ziggurat. Although impressively designed and built, ziggurats were not very durable. During heavy rain, water penetrated the mud brick interiors and caused them to soften. Over time, the weight of the upper levels would cause the lower walls to bulge and eventually collapse. Several texts from ancient Mesopotamia indicate that the rulers expected this to happen. To try to preserve the structure as long as possible, all ziggurats incorporated features such as internal drainpipes to drain water away from the building. Some ziggurats also contained layers of reeds and bitumen (tarlike substance used for waterproofing) between each level to absorb extra moisture. Notwithstanding these precautions, many ziggurats had to be rebuilt every 100 years or less. The ziggurats in northern Mesopotamia were similar in design and construction to southern ones, but with a few differences. Assyrian ziggurats were typically square, not rectangular like the ones in the south. The four corners were not always aligned to the points of the compass, nor were the external stairways the only means of reaching the temple at the top. However, the most important difference between the two types of ziggurats was their physical surroundings. Sumerian and Babylonian ziggurats stood alone on a site, while the Assyrians incorporated their ziggurats into larger temple complexes that contained other buildings. These temple complexes were constructed on three platforms. The first, or lowest, platform was simply a courtyard surrounding the buildings on the site. The second platform contained the main temple of the god. The ziggurat was the third, and highest, platform in the group. The ancient Mesopotamians believed that the ziggurats served as a link between humans and the gods. Every important city contained a ziggurat dedicated to its local god. The structure rose to the sky, enabling the deities* to descend from heaven to visit their subjects. The high temple on top of the ziggurat received the god when he or she first descended from the sky. The lower temple at the base received the deity upon reaching the earth. The names given to many ziggurats express the idea that ziggurats were the stairways of the gods. The name of the ziggurat in the city of Sippar meant “the staircase to holy heaven,” while the great ziggurat in Babylon was called “the temple which is the foundation of heaven and earth.” In some ziggurats, the high temple had a bedchamber in which sacred marriage ceremonies took place. In these ceremonies, the king would enact a ritual with a priestess of the temple to ensure the fertility and prosperity of the kingdom. ( See also Assyria and the Assyrians Palaces and Temples .) ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref
Pyramids (multi-platform tombs: 4,700 years old)
The earliest known Egyptian pyramids are found at Saqqara, northwest of Memphis. The earliest among these is the Pyramid of Djoser and this first Egyptian pyramid consisted of six mastabas (of decreasing size) built atop one another. The Pyramid of Djoser is a step pyramid (or proto-pyramid) with seven levels high and four-sided. “The step pyramid is the only pyramid in the Old Kingdom that 11 of the king’s daughters were buried inside,” said Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, former minister of state for antiquities. The Pyramid of Djoser was built for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser intended to hold his mummified body. These were the earliest type of Egyptian pyramids and were the predecessors of the “true pyramids” built with smooth sides. What defines a step pyramid is the use of a series of flat platforms on top of one another where they gradually get smaller as they get to the top. It was the largest building of its time, planned by Imhotep “the one who comes in peace”, architect of the Step Pyramid, who was a polymath, poet, judge, engineer, magician, scribe, astronomer, astrologer, physician, high priest and was chancellor to the pharaoh Djoser. The Step Pyramid complex was enclosed by a 30-foot (10-meter) wall and included courtyards, temples, and chapels covering nearly 40 acres (16 hectares)—the size of a large town in the third millennium B.C. As in earlier mastaba tombs, the Step Pyramid’s burial chambers are underground, hidden in a maze of tunnels, probably to discourage grave robbers. The tomb was nevertheless plundered, and all that remains of Djoser, the third king of Egypt’s 3rd dynasty (time line), is his mummified left foot. The Pyramid of Djoser was initially a mastaba tomb, a flat-roofed monument with sloping sides. Through a series of later expansions, the structure evolved into a 62-meter high Pyramid with six layers built on top of each other. The ‘first’ pyramid of the ancient Egyptians was built with a staggering 11.6 million cubic feet of stone and clay. The Pyramid of Djoser was constructed around 4,667 to 4,648 years ago (3rd dynasty) and the nearby enclosure known as Gisr el-mudir would seem to predate the complex do to pottery shards in the filling of the walls date to the Second Dynasty and indicated that the structure was constructed at the end of the Second Dynasty (end of the 28th century BC). Thus, Gisr el-Mudir is the oldest known Egyptian construction for which worked stone was used as a building material. There may be a connection between this enclosure and the two gallery tombs of the Second Dynasty located to the south of the Step Pyramid complex, which has been attributed to Hotepsekhemwy and Nebra or Ninetjer. Possibly, the empty rectangular structure interacted with the graves similarly to how the valley areas interacted with the graves at Abydos. Furthermore, the structure seemingly could also be attributed to Khasekhemwy, on account of similarities to his enclosure at Abydos, Shunet el-Zebib, and also because the erection of a stone building called Men-Netjeret is attributed to him in the Palermo stone which seems to fit chronologically with the construction of Gisr el-Mudir. The rectangular structure probably represents a transitional stage between the enclosures at Abydos and the Step Pyramid complex of Djoser. Abydos one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt was occupied by the rulers of the Predynastic period, whose town, temple and tombs have been found there. The temple and town continued to be rebuilt at intervals down to the times of the thirtieth dynasty, and the cemetery was used continuously. The pharaohs of the first dynasty were buried in Abydos, including Narmer, who is regarded as founder of the first dynasty, and his successor, Aha. It was in this time period that the Abydos boats were constructed. Some pharaohs of the second dynasty were also buried in Abydos. The temple was renewed and enlarged by these pharaohs as well. Shunet El Zebib (lit. “raisin barn” or “storage of the raisins” ), alternatively named Shuneh and Middle Fort, is a large mudbrick structure located at Abydos in Upper Egypt. The edifice dates to the 2nd dynasty (ca 2700 BC.), and was built by the Ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) Khasekhemwy. Shunet El Zebib is made of hardened mud bricks. It consists of two rectangular surrounding walls built as a so-called funerary enclosure, a place where the deceased king was worshipped and memorized. Such a place was named “house of the Ka” or “Ka-house” by the Egyptians and it was some kind of forerunner to the later mortuary temples known from the Old Kingdom period. As usual for the Early Kingdom, abydene rulers had their own mastaba tomb with a separated funerary enclosure close by. Because Khasekhemwy and his predecessor Peribsen were buried at Abydos and had their funerary enclosures at the same location, some Egyptologists believe that both kings belonged to a royal dynasty line named Thinite Dynasty. This could indeed explain Peribsen’s and Khasekhemwy’s choice of place. However, it is unknown how long the mortuary enclosure of Khasekhemwy was in use, neither its Ancient Egyptian name is known. Because of its thick and interlaced walls, it was long time thought that Shunet El Zebib was a military fortress, which led to its alternative designation as “Middle Fort”. But archaeological findings provide only cultic and religious activities and a location so close to cemeteries speaks rather against any military use. Khasekhemwy’s enclosure domain is now evaluated as the most advanced and most massive version of a Ka-house. Because of the stunning architectural similarities between Shunet El Zebib and the Pyramid complex of 3rd dynasty king Djoser, archaeologists and egyptologists often describe the “Middle Fort” as a direct forerunner of the step pyramid complexes. The flat, stepped inner mount of the Shunet El Zebib is even named “proto-pyramid”. Egyptian step pyramids were created to serve as elaborate burial grounds for royalty. After the famous Egyptian step pyramid that King Djoser had created, no other Egyptian Step pyramid was fully completed. The era of Egyptian step pyramids came to an end when true pyramids began being built in their place during the 4th dynasty. However, there is a 4,600-year-old Egyptian step pyramid in Edfu, seemingly constructed (3rd Dynasty) is older than the Great Pyramid in Giza. The Edfu South Pyramid is part of a group of seven very similar small step pyramids which were all built far from the main centres of Egypt and about which very little is known, along with the pyramids of Elephantine, el-Kula (de) , Naqada, Saujet el-Meitin (de) , Sinki (de) and Seila (de) . The builder and purpose of the pyramid and unknown. There is some thinking that it and the other pyramids were part of a single building project of Pharaoh Huni, the last ruler of the Third Dynasty. Though it has also been suggested that Huni’s successor, Sneferu (4,670 to 4,630 years ago) the founder of the Fourth Dynasty, was the builder. Speculation about the function of the pyramids ranges from a representation of the king, a depiction of the benben, or a symbol of the political and religious unity of the land to a cenotaph for a royal wife. Egyptian provincial step Pyramid facts show that the step pyramid in Edfu is part of the group of pyramids called provincial pyramids that were likely either built by the pharaoh Huni or Snefru. The provincial pyramids are a group of seven step-pyramids that have very similar characteristics and dimensions and were built in settlements throughout central and southern Egypt around the same time period. No one knows the exact reason for the provincial pyramids creation but some experts speculate that they may have been created as symbolic monuments. The Great Pyramid 4,580 to 4,560 years ago (4th dynasty) a (True pyramid) in Giza, is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen’s Chamber and King’s Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure. The main part of the Giza complex is a setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honour of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu’s wives, an even smaller “satellite” pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles. Although succeeding pyramids were smaller than the Great Pyramid, pyramid building continued until the end of the Middle Kingdom. The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt between circa 4,050 to 3,800 years ago, stretching from the reunification of Egypt under the impulse of Mentuhotep II of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Twelfth Dynasty. During the Middle Kingdom period, Osiris became the most important deity in popular religion. Overall, Pyramids were built to be tombs for pharaohs and their queens. These ancient people went through great effort to ensure their souls would survive after death. Sometimes the individual’s body was put in the pyramid but sometimes the pyramid was just meant as a place for the soul of the deceased to reside in the afterlife. And seemingly why were built with a pyramid shape is most likely some connected importance of the sun in their religion, that a pyramid’s shape was believed to depict descending sun rays. Nubian pyramids are pyramids that were built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms. Sudan has more than twice the number of pyramids you’ll find in Egypt relatively more than 200 pyramids, grouped across mainly three sites. The physical proportions of Nubian pyramids differ markedly from the Egyptian edifices: they are built of stepped courses of horizontally positioned stone blocks and range from approximately 6–30 metres (20–98 ft) in height, but rise from fairly small foundation footprints that rarely exceed 8 metres (26 ft) in width, resulting in tall, narrow structures inclined at approximately 70°. Most also have offering temple structures abutting their base with unique Kushite characteristics. By comparison, Egyptian pyramids of similar height generally had foundation footprints that were at least five times larger and were inclined at angles between 40–50°. From 5,100 to 4,890 years ago, Egyptian pharaohs sent their army south along the Nile in search of gold, granite for statues, ostrich feathers, and slaves. Reaching as far south as Jebel Barkal – a small mountain north of Khartoum – they built forts, and later temples, along the route to demonstrate their dominance over the Nubians. The conquered region came to be known as the Kush and the Kushites adopted all aspects of Egyptian culture, from gods to glyphs. But when the Egyptian empire collapsed in 3,070 years ago, the Nubians were free. However, the religion of Amun ran deep and 300 years later Alara, King of the Kush, spearheaded a renaissance of Egyptian culture, including the construction of their own pyramids. Now believing themselves the true sons of the God Amun, Alara’s grandson Piye invaded the north to rebuild the great temples, and for nearly 100 years Egypt was ruled by the “Black Pharaohs”. At the peak of their reign, under the command of famous Kushite King Taharqa, their territories stretched all the way to Libya and Palestine. The crown of the king bore two cobras: one for Nubia, the other for Egypt. At the peak of their reign, under the command of famous Kushite King Taharqa, their territories stretched all the way to Libya and Palestine. The crown of the king bore two cobras: one for Nubia, the other for Egypt. The last great burial site of these royal Black Pharaohs was at Meroë, an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile. By 300 AD the Kush Empire was in decline. Dwindling agriculture and increasing raids from Ethiopia and Rome spelled the end of their rule. Christianity and Islam followed, and prayers to Egyptian God Amun faded from memory. The first Kushite kingdom had its capital at Kerma (4,600 to 3,520 years ago). The second was centered on Napata (3,000 to 2,300 years ago). Kerma was Nubia’s first centralized state with its own indigenous forms of architecture and burial customs. The last two kingdoms, Napata and Meroë, were heavily influenced by ancient Egypt culturally, economically, politically, and militarily. The Kushite kingdoms in turn competed strongly with Egypt economically and militarily. 2,751 years ago, the Kushite king Piankhi overthrew the 24th Dynasty and united the entire Nile valley from the delta to the city of Napata under his rule. Piankhi and his descendants ruled as the pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. The Napatan domination of Egypt ended with the Assyrian conquest of Egypt in 2,656 years ago. The beginning of Dynasties 22 and 23 witnessed political stability, during which Libyan pharaohs ruled from the Delta, first in Tanis and then Bubastis. The Libyan kings were able to maintain control from the Delta over the High Priests of Amen by placing their children in high positions in the clerical hierarchy. They carried out various building works at Karnak and throughout Egypt. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines mentioned various tribes with similar names living in Greater “Libya” (North Africa) in the areas where Berbers were later found. The presence of proto-Berber peoples from prehistory is evident in Saharan caves, where rock paintings depicting diverse megafaunal life point to evidence that before the desertification of the Sahara, northern Africa was a lush and resource-rich region populated by hunter-gatherer societies. The basal two deities of Berber cosmology – a solar figure and a lunar one – are loosely analogous to those of the Egyptians, suggesting a common cultural origin. According to Herodotus, who in his Histories wrote of the Berbers in 2,430 years ago, “They sacrifice to the Sun and Moon, but not to any other god. This worship is common to all the Libyans.” (IV, 198). In common with pre-Abrahamic Middle Eastern peoples, the importance of rocks was a major theme in Berber tradition. Some stone-cut mausoleums, such as the Roman-era Royal Mausoleum of Mauritania, built by Berber kings in traditional style, remain intact today. The Berber veneration of stone structures, which included the burial of the dead under outcroppings or erected monuments, was akin to such practices as the Nabatean pilgrimage to the Black Stone at Mecca’s Kaaba and the Arabian Hutaymi people’s worship of the great boulder Al-Weli abu Ruzuma. Similarities in tradition and language point to an ancient proto-Afroasiatic cultural center from which these groups dispersed. Libya was an unknown territory to the Egyptians: it was the land of the spirits. There were many Berber tribes in ancient Libya, including the now extinct Psylli, with the Libu being the most prominent. The Libyan script that was used in Libya was mostly a funerary script. North Africa has megalithic remains, which occur in a great variety of form and in vast numbers dolmens and circles like Stonehenge, cairns, underground cells excavated in rock, barrows topped with huge slabs, and step-pyramid-like mounds. Most remarkable are the trilithons, some still standing, some fallen, which occur isolated or in rows, and consist of two squared uprights standing on a common pedestal that supports a huge transverse beam. Berbers are an ethnic group encompasses the entire history and geography of North Africa. The name Berber derives from an ancient Egyptian language term meaning “outlander” or variations thereof. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines mentioned various tribes with similar names living in Greater “Libya” (North Africa) in the areas where Berbers were later found. Around 7,000 years ago, the Berber populations of North Africa were primarily descended from the makers of the Iberomaurusian and Capsian cultures, as well as Eurasian and Near Eastern. The proto-Berber tribes evolved from these prehistoric communities during the Late Bronze to Early Iron Age. Uniparental DNA analysis has established ties between Berbers and other Afro-Asiatic speakers in Africas, linguistically related to that of the Egyptians, Kushites, Arabs, Syrians, Levantine tribes, and Somalis. Most of these populations belong to the E1b1b paternal haplogroup, with Berber speakers having among the highest frequencies of this lineage. Additionally, genomic analysis has found that Berber and other Maghreb communities are defined by a shared ancestral component. Prehistoric tombs in the Maghreb shows that the bodies of the dead were painted with ochre. While this practice was known to the Iberomaurusians, this culture seems to have been primarily a Capsian industry. The dead were also sometimes buried with shells of ostrich eggs, jewelry, and weapons. Bodies were usually buried in a fetal position. Pomponius Mela reported that the Augilae (Modern Awjila in Libya) considered the spirits of their ancestors to be gods. They swore by them and consulted them. After making requests, they slept in their tombs to await responses in dreams. Herodotus (2,484 to 2,425 years ago) noted the same practice among the Nasamones, who inhabited the deserts around Siwa and Augila. He wrote: [..]They swear by the men among themselves who are reported to have been the most righteous and brave, by these, I say, laying hands upon their tombs and they divine by visiting the sepulchral mounds of their ancestors and lying down to sleep upon them after having prayed and whatsoever thing the man sees in his dream, this he accepts. The Berbers worshiped their kings, too. The tombs of the Numidian kings are among the most notable monuments left by the Classical Berbers. Unlike the majority of mainland Berbers, the Guanches mummified the dead a Libyan mummy at the Uan Muhuggiag site in Libya where the Tashwinat Mummy was found, which was dated to around 5,600 years ago, at a comparable age to the oldest found in Ancient Egyptian mummy dating to around 5,600-year-old tomb with a mummy (Predynastic Egypt), predates the unification of Egypt. This ancient Egyptian mummy (thought to be a teanager) was also buried with grave goods, including an ivory statue of a bearded man. The tomb is located in the ancient city of Hierakonpolis located between Luxor and Aswan, which was the dominant pre-dynastic urban settlement. The tomb was built before the rule of King Narmer, the founder of the First Dynasty who unified Upper and Lower Egypt in the around 5,100 years ago. Narmer was an ancient Egyptian king of the Early Dynastic Period. He probably was the successor to the Protodynastic king Ka, or possibly Scorpion. Narmer’s tomb in Umm el-Qa’ab near Abydos in Upper Egypt consists of two joined chambers, lined in mud brick. Narmer’s tomb is located next to the tombs of Ka, who likely ruled Upper Egypt just before Narmer, and Hor-Aha, who was his immediate successor. As the tomb dates back more than 5,000 years, and has been pillaged, repeatedly, from antiquity to modern times, it is amazing that anything useful could be discovered in it. Because of the repeated disturbances in Umm el-Qa’ab, many articles of Narmer’s were found in other graves, and objects of other kings, were recovered in Narmer’s grave. Narmer is well attested throughout Egypt, southern Canaan and Sinai: altogether 98 inscriptions at 26 sites. [k] At Abydos and Hierakonpolis Narmer’s name appears both within a serekh and without reference to a serekh. At every other site except Coptos, Narmer’s name appears in a serekh.In Egypt, his name has been found at 17 sites: 4 in Upper Egypt (Hierakonpolis, Naqada, Abydos, and Coptos ) ten in Lower Egypt (Tarkhan, Helwan, Zawyet el’Aryan, Tell Ibrahim Awad, Ezbet el-Tell, Minshat Abu Omar, Saqqara, Buto, Tell el-Farkha, and Kafr Hassan Dawood ) one in the Eastern Desert (Wadi el-Qaash ) and two in the Western Desert (Kharga Oasis and Gebel Tjauti). During Narmer’s reign, Egypt had an active economic presence in southern Canaan. Pottery sherds have been discovered at several sites, both from pots made in Egypt and imported to Canaan and others made in the Egyptian style out of local materials. Researchers wrung genetic material from 151 Egyptian mummies, radiocarbon dated between Egypt’s New Kingdom (the oldest at 3,388 years) to the Roman Period (the youngest at 426 A.D.), ancient Egyptians showed little genetic change as well as finding not much sub-Saharan African ancestry as reported in the journal Nature Communications. Ancient Egyptians were closely related to people who lived along the eastern Mediterranean, the analysis showed. And the DNA of 93 Egyptian mummies from their study reveals a surprising close relation to ancient people of the Near East such as Armenians. They also shared genetic material with residents of the Turkish peninsula at the time and Europe. Given Egypt’s location at the intersection of Africa, Europe and Asia, and the influx of foreign rulers, Krause said he was surprised at how stable the genetics seemed to be over this period. It was not until relatively recently, last 1,500 years, Egypt became more African and that sub-Saharan genetic influences became more pronounced. However, a study performed on ancient mummies of the 12th Dynasty, identified multiple lines of descent, some of which originated in Sub-Saharan Africa. Complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences were obtained for 90 of the mummies and were compared with each other and with several other ancient and modern datasets. Modern Egyptians generally shared this maternal haplogroup pattern, but also carried more Sub-Saharan African clades. However, analysis of the mummies’ mtDNA haplogroups found that they shared greater mitochondrial affinities with modern populations from the Near East and the Levant compared to modern Egyptians. Additionally, three of the ancient Egyptian individuals were analyzed for Y-DNA, and were observed to bear paternal lineages that are common in both the Middle East and North Africa. The genetic history of Egypt‘s demographics reflects that Berber and other Maghreb communities are defined by a shared ancestral component. This Maghrebi element peaks among Tunisian Berbers. North Moroccans as well as Libyans and Egyptians carry higher proportions of European and Middle Eastern ancestral components, respectively, whereas Tunisian Berbers and Saharawi are those populations with the highest autochthonous North African component. According to Y-DNA analysis show around 45% of Copts in Sudan carry the haplogroup J. The remainder mainly belong to the E1b1b clade (21%). Both paternal lineages are common among other local Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations (Beja, Ethiopians, Sudanese Arabs), as well as many Nubians. E1b1b/E3b reaches its highest frequencies among Berbers and Somalis. Copts in Sudan exclusively carry various descendants of the macrohaplogroup N. This mtDNA clade is likewise closely associated with local Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations, including Berbers and Ethiopic peoples. An ancestral autosomal component of West Eurasian origin that is common to many modern Afroasiatic-speaking populations in Northeast Africa. Known as the Coptic component, it peaks among Egyptian Copts who settled in Sudan over the past two centuries. Copts also formed a separated group in PCA, a close outlier to other Egyptians, Afro-Asiatic-speaking Northeast Africans and Middle East populations. The Coptic component evolved out of a main Northeast African and Middle Eastern ancestral component that is shared by other Egyptians and also found at high frequencies among other Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations in Northeast Africa (
70%). The scientists suggest that this points to a common origin for the general population of Egypt. They also associate the Coptic component with Ancient Egyptian ancestry, without the later Arabian influence that is present among other Egyptians. Among other significant finds at Uan Muhuggiag are elaborate rock paintings, mostly attributed to the later occupation period of around 5,000 years ago. There are more than 100 rock paintings on the shelter’s walls and ceiling. The most notable of these are the Round Head paintings. They were named as such because the heads depicted were quite large, out of proportion to the rest of the body, and also very round with a distinct lack of features. Additionally, there was a painting depicting these figures inside a boat, which may have had a ritual or religious significance. One particular figure inside the boat was upside-down, whom Mori had interpreted as being dead. Some rock art depicted cattle with herders and running hunters. There was also a painting of two oxen that was found on a rock which had detached from the wall above. The stratigraphic layer confirmed the painting to date from about 4700 BP. This provided conclusive evidence that the inhabitants of Uan Muhuggiag at that time were pastoralists. A pyramidion is the uppermost piece or capstone of an Egyptian pyramid or obelisk, in archaeological parlance. They were called benbenet in the Ancient Egyptian language, which associated the pyramid as a whole with the sacred benben stone. During Egypt’s Old Kingdom, pyramidia were generally made of diorite, granite, or fine limestone, which were then covered in gold or electrum during the Middle Kingdom and through the end of the pyramid-building era, they were built from granite. A pyramidion was “covered in gold leaf to reflect the rays of the sun” during Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, they were often “inscribed with royal titles and religious symbols.” Very few pyramidia have survived into modern times. Most of those that have are made of polished black granite, inscribed with the name of the pyramid’s owner. Four pyramidia – the world’s largest collection – are housed in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Among them are the pyramidia from the so-called Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III at Dahshur and of the Pyramid of Khendjer at Saqqara. The pyramidion of the scribe Moses (mes,s, New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, 3,250 years ago) depicts himself making an offering, with his name on two opposite faces. The adjacent opposite faces feature a baboon: “Screeching upon the rising of the Sun, and the Day”. (The baboon is also the god-scribe representation of the Scribe, for the god Thoth.) ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref
6,720 to 4,920 years old Ritualistic Hongshan Culture of Inner Mongolia with 5,000-year-old Pyramid Mounds and Temples
% of the combined samples from various Hongshan archeological sites belonged to the subclade N1 (xN1a, N1c) of the paternal haplogroup N-M231 and calculated N to have been the predominant haplogroup in the region in the Neolithic period at 89%, its share gradually declining over time. Today this haplogroup is most common in Finland, the Baltic states, and among northern Siberian ethnicities, such as the Yakuts.” ref
aPyramids in China (pyramidal shaped tomb structures: 5,000 years old)
In the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in northern China, Chinese archeologists have discovered a pyramid which they have dated to be more than 5,000 years old. Archaeologist Guo Dashun stated that the three-stepped pyramid belongs to the Hongshan culture period of 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, during the Stone Age. At the top of the pyramid, the archaeologists found seven tombs and the ruins of an altar. Also found were many fragments of broken pottery carved with the Chinese character mi (rice). They also discovered a bone flute, a stone ring, and a life-sized sculpture of a goddess. The term Chinese pyramids refers to pyramidal shaped structures in China, most of which are ancient mausoleums and burial mounds built to house the remains of several early emperors of China and their imperial relatives. About 38 of them are located around 16 to 22 mi) north-west of Xi’an, on the Guanzhong Plains in Shaanxi Province. The most famous is the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, northeast of Xi’an and 1.7 km west of where the Terracotta Warriors were found. The earliest tombs in China are found just north of Beijing in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and in Liaoning. They belong to the Neolithic Hongshan culture (6,700 to 2,900 years ago) a culture in northeastern China. The site of Niuheliang in Liaoning contains a pyramidal structure.culture in northeastern China. Hongshan burial artifacts include some of the earliest known examples of jade working. The Hongshan culture is known for its jade pig dragons and embryo dragons. Clay figurines, including figurines of pregnant women, are also found throughout Hongshan sites. Small copper rings were also excavated. Origin of the mysterious Yin-Shang bronzes in China indicate they contain lead with puzzlingly highly radiogenic isotopic compositions appeared suddenly in the alluvial plain of the Yellow River around 3,400 years ago. Excavators have discovered an underground temple complex—which included an altar—and also cairns in Niuheliang. The temple was constructed of stone platforms, with painted walls. Archaeologists have given it the name Goddess Temple due to the discovery of a clay female head with jade inlaid eyes. It was an underground structure, 1m deep. Included on its walls are mural paintings. Housed inside the Goddess Temple are clay figurines as large as three times the size of real-life humans. The exceedingly large figurines are possibly deities, but for a religion not reflective in any other Chinese culture. The existence of complex trading networks and monumental architecture (such as pyramids and the Goddess Temple) point to the existence of a “chiefdom“ in these prehistoric communities. Painted pottery was also discovered within the temple. Over 60 nearby tombs have been unearthed, all constructed of stone and covered by stone mounds, frequently including jade artifacts. Cairns were discovered atop two nearby two hills, with either round or square stepped tombs, made of piled limestone. Entombed inside were sculptures of dragons and tortoises. It has been suggested that religious sacrifice might have been performed within the Hongshan culture. In northeast China, Hongshan culture was preceded by Xinglongwa culture (6200–5400 BC), Xinle culture (5300–4800 BC), and Zhaobaogou culture, which may be contemporary with Xinle and a little later. Yangshao culture was in the larger area and contemporary with Hongshan culture (see map). These two cultures interacted with each other. Just as suggested by evidence found at early Yangshao culture sites, Hongshan culture sites also provide the earliest evidence for feng shui. The presence of both round and square shapes at Hongshan culture ceremonial centers suggests an early presence of the gaitian cosmography (“round heaven, square earth”). The three exceptional pyramids around Xi’an, constructed using three different methods:
1. The Qian Shi Huang pyramid (Qin Dynasty) constructed of clay bricks
The first and largest “burial pyramid” is thought to be that of the first Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who unified China as a country and founded the Qin Dynasty. It lies in the huge mausoleum at the foot of the Qing Ling Shan Mountains, 80 km southwest of Xi’an. He began construction as soon as he ascended the throne at the tender age of 13 in 246 BC. It was to be of tremendous dimensions – its base was 354 x 357 meters, and its original height was 200 meters, making it the largest “pyramid” in the world (for comparison, the great pyramid in Giza is 230 x 230 meters and 147 meters high). For the 36 years that work went on, up to 700,000 people were employed at the site at a time to construct the pyramid and the subterranean complexes over an area of several thousand square meters. Construction was completed in 210 BC.
2. Qian Ling pyramid (Tang Dynasty), formed from a hill
This pyramid and the burial complexes are located on the slopes of Mount Liang, 6 km north of Quianling, the county seat, 80 km northwest of Xi’an. It is the mausoleum of the third Tang emperor, Gaozong (650-683 AD) and his wife, who became the Empress Wu Zetian (684-704, seventh daughter of Emperor Zhongzong (Li Xian), who was buried there in 684 or 706. The “pyramid” was not made by piling up material, however, but by shaping an existing hill (resulting in a “shaped pyramid”) which is not square and has large differences in its base lengths. What is special is the emperor’s subterranean burial chambers, which belie influences that are atypical for early China (see Fig. ??). Of the 18 Tang emperor burial sites in the Guanzhong Plain, it is the only complex that was not found and plundered by grave robbers. The enormous stairway access is almost 2 km long with two bulwark towers in front of the “pyramid” and is flanked by figures of animals and people that are up to 4 meters high and by monolithic stone pillars. Among these are armed guards, winged horses (yima), stone lions (shishi) and the Shusheng Tablets and Uncharactered Stele (wuzibei).
3. Earthen Pyramid of Princess Yongtai (Tang Dynasty)
Princess Yongtai (Huang Ti) was the granddaughter of Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu Zetian, and died in 701 AD at only 17 years of age. She was buried near the Qianling Mausoleum in 706, together with Prince Duwei Wu Yanhin, a nephew of Wu Zetian who had died one year earlier (this delayed burial was possible because the bodies had been mummified). Yongtai‘s grave is surrounded by strong, 3-meters-tall walls, oriented to the four cardinal directions. They are 275 meters long from north to south and 220 meters wide from east to west. The pyramidal hill is located in the middle of the mausoleum. Today, it is only 14 meters high, with a respectable side length of 56 meters. An arched corridor 88 meters long, almost 4 meters wide and 6 meters high leads from the southern entrance to an antechamber and from there to the actual burial chamber. This one impressed and surprised me even more than that of Emperor Gaozong it corresponds almost exactly to the Egyptian construction method. These similarities are not limited to the long corridors leading below the pyramid, but also include the chamber‘s shape and especially the outer sarcophagus. It is made of black basalt and is almost identical to the 24 sarcophagi in the Serapeum of Sakkara (see page 92). The frescoes are also exceptionally well preserved. The burial chamber‘s east and west walls are covered with depictions of black dragons, white tigers and an honor guard, and the ceiling features astronomical motifs. The antechamber‘s east and west walls bear depictions of waiting servants. This tomb is believed to have been plundered very early. Nevertheless, more than 1,300 items have been discovered in the vicinity during the past 50 years, including gold- and silverware, glazed figurines, porcelain and copperware.
3. Earthen Pyramid of Mao Ling (Han Dynasty)
This burial site is located 40 km from Xi‘an, near the village of Maoling, northeast of the city of Xingping. The mausoleum of Mao Ling, the burial pyramid of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty (141-87 BC) is the largest of the five mausoleums built during the Western Han Dynasty and is also called the “Pyramid of the East”. Its construction is thought to have begun in 139 BC and lasted 53 years. It was surrounded by a square bulwark wall almost 6 meters thick, 431 meters long east to west and 415 meters long north to south. There was one gate in the middle of each section of the wall, one for every cardinal point. The central burial mound is a truncated pyramid, eroded to a height of 46.5 meters, with a base of about 217 x 222 meters. Around the central mausoleum are over 20 other tombs for Wudi’s family, ministers and generals, such as the burial pyramid of generals Huo Qubing, Wei Qing and Jin Midi, located between 1 and 2 km east of the emperor‘s tomb. Today, the complex also features the Mao Ling Museum, where splendid burial objects are displayed historical records claim that the emperor spent one third of all tax income for several decades on the mausoleum‘s construction and his family’s burial goods.
Finding feng shui?
Early feng shui relied on astronomy to find correlations between humans and the universe. The culture may also have contributed to the development of settlements in ancient Korea. A group called “Qiang” were mentioned in ancient Chinese texts as well as in inscriptions on oracle bones 3000 years ago. The Qiang people who practice Qiang folk religion are an ethnic group in Chin mainly in a mountainous region in the northwestern part of Sichuan on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. It is possible that the modern Qiang might be descendants of one of the groups referred to as Qiang in ancient times. Many of the peoples formerly designated as “Qiang” were gradually removed from this category in Chinese texts as they become sinicized or reclassified, and by the Ming and Qing dynasties, the term “Qiang” denoted only non-Han people living in the upper Min River Valley and Beichuan area, the area now occupied by the modern Qiang. Qiang territory lies between the Han Chinese and historical Tibet, and the Qiang would fall under the domination of both. Each village may have one or more stone towers in the past, and the Himalayan Towers remains a distinctive feature of some Qiang villages. Himalayan Towers are also called Stone star-shaped towers, are a series of stone towers located mostly in Kham, a province of premodern Tibet, and in Sichuan. The towers are located principally in the Changtang and Kongpo regions of Tibet as well as in the area inhabited by the modern Qiang people and in the historical region inhabited by the Western Xia. These towers can be found both in cities and in uninhabited regions. Many of the towers use a star pattern of walls as opposed to a strictly rectangular method and heights can exceed 200 ft. The Qiang worship five major gods, twelve lesser gods, some tree gods, and numerous stones were also worshiped as representatives of gods. A special god is also worshiped in every village and locality, who are mentioned by name in the sacred chants of the Qiang priests. Mubyasei, also known Abba Chi, is the supreme god of the universe and the same name is also used to refer to a male ancestor god, Abba Sei. In certain places, Shanwang, the mountain god, is considered to represent the supreme god. Archaeologists have released a photograph of a skull found in an ancient tomb in Alaer (Aral) in Southern Xinjiang, China. The skull shows an unusual characteristic in which the teeth are vertically oriented instead of horizontally. In addition, the researchers have revealed that the skeleton recovered from the tomb measured a massive 2.3 metres (7 feet 6 inches) which researchers have said that skeleton is 4,000 years old and belonged to the Qiang people. The Qiang people have been recognized as a ‘first ancestor’ culture due to their ancient roots – they were mentioned in ancient Chinese texts as well as inscriptions on the oracle bones of 3,000 years ago. However, the ancient Qiang people referred to in these ancient texts were a broad group of nomadic people and the ancestors of the modern Tibeto-Burman speakers, they are therefore not the equivalent of the modern Qiang people who are a small branch of the ancient Qiangs. The Qiangs were also not a single distinctive ethnic group in the past. According to historical records, a clan group made their homes in what is today’s Sichuan Province. During 600 to 900 AD when the Tibetan Regime gradually expanded its rule over the region, some Qiangs were assimilated by the Tibetans and others by the Hans, leaving a small number unassimilated. These developed into the distinctive ethnic group of today. Prehistoric transport and trade nvolved migrations out of the Fertile Crescent would carry early agricultural practices to neighboring regions—westward to Europe and North Africa, northward to Crimea, and eastward to Mongolia. Interestingly, the region where the tomb was uncovered is in the same region where the well-known Tarim mummies with Caucasoid features were recovered. The mummies were found to have typical Europoid body features (elongated bodies, angular faces, recessed eyes), and many of them have their hair physically intact, ranging in color from blond to red to deep brown. Like the Qiang skeleton, the Tarim mummies were also found to be very tall. Could there be a link between them? The ancient people of the Sahara imported domesticated animals from Asia between 6000 and 4000 BCE. In Nabta Playa by the end of the 7th millennium BCE, prehistoric Egyptians had imported goats and sheep from Southwest Asia. Foreign artifacts dating to the 5th millennium BCE in the Badarian culture in Egypt indicate contact with distant Syria. In predynastic Egypt, by the beginning of the 4th millennium BCE, ancient Egyptians in Maadi were importing pottery as well as construction ideas from Canaan. By the 4th millennium BCE shipping was well established, and the donkey and possibly the dromedary had been domesticated. Domestication of the Bactrian camel and use of the horse for transport then followed. Charcoal samples found in the tombs of Nekhen, which were dated to the Naqada I and II periods, have been identified as cedar from Lebanon. Predynastic Egyptians of the Naqada I period also imported obsidian from Ethiopia, used to shape blades and other objects from flakes. The Naqadans traded with Nubia to the south, the oases of the western desert to the west, and the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean to the east. Pottery and other artifacts from the Levant that date to the Naqadan era have been found in ancient Egypt. Egyptian artifacts dating to this era have been found in Canaan and other regions of the Near East, including Tell Brak and Uruk and Susa in Mesopotamia. By the second half of the 4th millennium BCE, the gemstone lapis lazuli was being traded from its only known source in the ancient world—Badakhshan, in what is now northeastern Afghanistan—as far as Mesopotamia and Egypt. By the 3rd millennium BCE, the lapis lazuli trade was extended to Harappa, Lothal and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley Civilization (Ancient India) of modern-day Pakistan and northwestern India. The Indus Valley was also known as Meluhha, the earliest maritime trading partner of the Sumerians and Akkadians in Mesopotamia. The ancient harbor constructed in Lothal, India, around 2,400 years ago is the oldest seafaring harbor known. Ancient Egyptian trade consisted of the gradual creation of land and sea trade routes connecting the Ancient Egyptian civilization with the Fertile Crescent, Arabia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and India. are circular and stepped and were made of clay. structures of Igbo culture was the Nsude Pyramids, at the Nigerian town of Nsude, northern Igboland. Ten pyramidal structures were built of clay/mud. The first base section was 60 ft. in circumference and 3 ft. in height. The next stack was 45 ft. in circumference. Circular stacks continued, till it reached the top. The structures were temples for the god Ala/Uto, who was believed to reside at the top. A stick was placed at the top to represent the god’s residence. The structures were laid in groups of five parallel to each other. Because it was built of clay/mud like the Deffufa of Nubia, time has taken its toll requiring periodic reconstruction. These pyramids bear a different but somewhat similar resemblance to the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, in Egypt and could have possibly, derive from the same cultural/religious/philosophical tradition that inspired this ancient Egyptian monument also similar to Nubian-like pyramids thousands of miles away from the Nubian area in the heart of Igboland. Evidence like this could show some correlation between the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Igbo. There is an existing ideology amongst the Yorubas of Nigeria and other writers of Yoruba history that the original ancestors of the Yorubas originated in ancient Egypt hence there was migration between Egypt and Yorubaland. This researcher contends that even if there was migration between Egypt and Nigeria, such migration did not take place during the predynastic and dynastic period as speculated by some scholars. No one knows precisely the origins of the methods of specialized bronze and brass castings in Nigeria, and the reasons for the similarities between the Nok terracottas (as old as 2,500 years), the art from Igbo-Ukwu near Enugu, and the Yoruba art that produced the famous Ife bronze heads and those of ancient Egyptians. These arts found in Nigeria might have been produced independently of any foreign culture. The ancient Egyptians were not known to be too keen about traveling and to adapt so much to foreign cultures. Trade, adventure, and escape from wars might have led some of them to travel to other parts of the world, but traveling to stay in other countries seemed not to be one of their preferences. Furthermore, the absence of a known and generally acceptable descendant of Egyptians in Nigeria suggests that the Egyptians did
not live in Nigeria permanently. The Nubian dynasty of Egypt (the 25th Dynasty of Egypt) saw the first widespread construction of pyramids (many in modern Sudan) since the Middle Kingdom. Amongst the Yorubas of Nigeria, are of the opinion that there were migrations between Egypt and Yorubaland. There is some thinking that there is some linkage between the Egyptians to the Yorubas, like the various forms of spirits, gods and ancestors worshipped. A royal pyramidal tomb, located in Ji’an, Jilin, was built by the Goguryeo Kingdom. The site includes archaeological remains of 40 tombs which were built by Goguryeo, which was founded by Jumong in a region called Jolbon Buyeo, thought to be located in the middle Amrok River and Tongjia River basin, overlapping the current China–North Korea border located in and around the city of Ji’an in China. Some of the tombs have elaborate ceilings designed to roof wide spaces without columns and carry the heavy load of a stone or earth tumulus (mound) was placed above them. The paintings in the tombs, while showing artistic skills and specific style, are also an example of strong influence from various cultures. located in and around the city of Ji’an in China. Koguryo (or Goguryeo, 2,037 years ago to 668 CE) was an ancient kingdom located in what is now Manchuria and the northern Korean Peninsula. Goguryeo was a Korean kingdom with a religion makeup of Buddhism, Taoism, and Shamanism. In the geographic monographs of the Book of Han, the word Goguryeo was first mentioned around 2,113 to 1,349 years ago, as a region under the jurisdiction of the Xuantu Commandery, page 33. Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Goguryo Kingdom located in and around the city of Ji’an in China and located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula and the southern and central parts of inner and outer Manchuria. Goguryeo was an active participant in the power struggle for control of the Korean peninsula and was also associated with the foreign affairs of neighboring polities in China and Japan. Jumong, the founder of Goguryeo, was worshipped and respected among the people. There was even a temple in Pyongyang dedicated to Jumong. At the annual Dongmaeng Festival, a religious rite was performed for Jumong, ancestors, and gods. Other pyramids in China, built using different construction methods, and not simply made of piled-up earth. What may deserve more attention than the earthen pyramids of Xi’an, as they are actual layered stone block pyramids, much like those in South America.
Layered stone pyramid of Jian/Zangkunchong (Goguryeo Dynasty)
There are two isolated layered pyramids near the city of Ji’an in Jangxi province in southeastern China. The perfectly preserved Ji’an pyramid is built of precisely cut stone blocks and contains a large burial chamber. Each base has a length of exactly 31.60 meters on every side, and the height is 12.4 meters. It is made up of seven layers, the first of four layers of stone, and all others of three. This layout is surprisingly similar to that of the layered pyramids in South America. The twelve monoliths that were placed so as to lean against the outer walls’ lower layers – the largest of which is 2.7 meters wide and 4.5 meters high – also set this one apart from other Chinese pyramids. Of these twelve monoliths, four are so-called guardian stones, but only “Paechong” (Korean for “warden‘s tomb”) is still intact. Interestingly, the pyramid is oriented to the cardinal points, while the heads of the stone sarcophagi in the chamber pointed precisely to the mystical volcanic crater of Paektusan (Mount Paektu) on the horizon with its beautiful crater lake at an altitude of 2,500 meters. There are three hypotheses about who built it: The first hypothesis suggests that it was built during the ancient Goguryeo empire, which briefly ruled Korea and parts of eastern China, as a stone mausoleum for King Kwangkaeto the Great (Gwangaeto, 374-413 AD). He is also credited with the construction of the nearby stone pyramid that is almost completely destroyed. The foundation walls, with their base lengths of almost 40 meters, are all that remain of that pyramid, which is thought to be his tomb. The second hypothesis posits that the remaining pyramid is the tomb of King Zangsu (Jangsu), which is why it is called “Zangkunchong”. It is also called Juni Ten (the general’s tomb) and “Pyramid of the East”. This name comes from the 20th regent of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the three Korean kingdoms, whose capital was Ji’an. Historical documents state that king Jansu was crowned king in 413 AD at the young age of 19 and went on to lead the kingdom, stretching from Korea to Mongolia, to its golden age. He died in 491 AD. But how did the Goguryeo Dynasty acquire the knowledge necessary for the construction of such flawless layered pyramids, the likes of which had never been seen in the area, and were not seen there again? The third hypothesis posits that the pyramids were built during the Kokuryo period, around 500 AD. That theory does not name the ruler who is buried there.
Xia Pyramids (Xia Dynasty), made of clay bricks
The Xia pyramids are located in western China, on the eastern slope of the Helan mountains, about 35 kilometers west of Yinchuan, the capital of the autonomous region of Ningxia Hui. They consist of pyramidal mausoleums for the imperial family with heights of between 9 and 20 meters, and 207 documented stone tombs for nobles and higher magistrates, all scattered over an area of 40 km2. Chinese researchers have conducted archaeological and scientific analyses on these tombs but the sudden rise and fall of the western Xia dynasty (also referred to as the Tangut Empire, 1038-1227) remains a mystery. One theory suggests that they were overrun and largely eradicated by invading Mongols under Genghis Khan. The best-preserved burial pyramid (Mausoleum No. 3) is the only one to have been excavated and explored. It was attributed to the first Xia emperor, Jingzong (1003-1048), whose birth name was Li Yuanhao. The pyramids were built with clay tiles, and the construction method used combines elements from the construction of pyramids, towers and traditional temple-mausoleums, while the chambers feature Buddhist elements and paintings, although these might have been added later.
Stone and earth Xituanshan Pyramid near Jiaohe
The ruins of Xituanshan, near the city of Jiaohe, on the border of the Taklamakan Desert, were excavated in 1950 after water erosion exposed the first two tombs (see sunken desert cities on page 586). The entire complex spans an area of 1,000 meters x 500 meters for a total area of 500,000 m2. Historical accounts state that it was the capital of the Chesi Empire from about 108 BC to 450 AD. But in 2006, Chinese archaeologists dug deeper and uncovered a group of six much older tombs that are thought to date back to the Bronze Age, or 1,000 BC, making them 3,000 years old, or almost 1,000 years older than the Chesi empire. For five of the pyramidal structures, only parts of the foundations and first layers remain, but these still reveal their original shape and size. The largest pyramidal tomb has been clearly identified as a three-layered pyramid made of stones and earth. It has a square base of 50 meters x 30 meters and an oval platform of 15 meters x 10 meters at its apex, on which stood a stone sarcophagus covered with a granite plate and surrounded by four engraved stone tablets. This mysterious sarcophagus and the pyramidal tombs were attributed to the “king of an earlier tribe”. I am certain that this complex was built by the legendary Sand People.
Stone and earth Hongshan Pyramids near Sijiazi
In the autonomous province of Inner Mongolia in northeastern China, a 5,000-year-old, three-tiered pyramid was discovered on a shaped-hill pyramid north of the city of Sijiazi in Aohan County. Even Chinese archaeologists immediately recognized it as a man-made pyramid, specifically as a burial complex from the Hongshan Culture (4,500-2,250 BC). The tiered pyramid is said to be about 30 meters long and 15 meters wide, and an altar and seven graves were found on its platform. In the graves, besides the remains, were various vaults containing a bone flute, a stone ring and the stone statue of a goddess. The archaeologists also discovered clay fragments with small stars scratched into their interiors which they believed to indicate either an early culture’s astronomical knowledge or a mythology that indicated that they would one day return to the stars.
What is the oldest Chinese dynasty?
The Shang dynasty is the oldest Chinese dynasty whose existence is supported by archaeological finds, but more evidence for the existence of the Xia dynasty may yet emerge. It’s estimated that the Shang ruled the Yellow River Valley of China for most of the second millennium BCE—so about 1766 to 1046 BCE. For centuries, people found what they called dragon bones—bones and shells with mysterious inscriptions—in many parts of China. Excavations of the ancient city of Anyang in the early twentieth century revealed tens of thousands of these bone fragments and bronze vessels, many of which had inscriptions in proto-Chinese characters. These artifacts contained records dating back to the Shang dynasty, allowing scholars to learn much about Shang life, such as their agricultural methods, medical treatments, legal system, and craft making styles. The Shang built huge cities with strong social class divisions, expanded earlier irrigation systems, excelled in the use of bronze, and developed a writing system. Shang kings fulfilled a sacred, not political, role, while a council of chosen advisers and bureaucrats—official administrators—organized and ran the government. The oldest surviving form of Chinese writing is found as inscriptions of divination records on the bones or shells of animals, called oracle bones oracle, from a similar Latin root as the English word orator, means holy messenger or speaker. The writing found on oracle bones shows complexity, indicating that this language had existed for a long time. Writing allowed science in the Shang dynasty to advance, as observations could be recorded more accurately. The Oracle Scripts are accounts of eclipses and other celestial events written by astronomers of the Shang period. Shang astronomers’ works also showed advances in mathematics, the development of odd and even numbers, and principles of accounting. The I-Ching—also known as The Book of Changes—was either written or compiled at this same time, around 3,250 to 3,150 years ago. The I-Ching is a book of divination with roots going back to the fortune tellers of the rural areas and their oracle bones. Musical instruments were also developed by the Shang. At Yin Xu, near Angyang, excavations have revealed instruments from the Shang period such as the ocarina—a wind instrument—drums, and cymbals. Bells, chimes, and bone flutes have been discovered elsewhere. The Shang created a lunar calendar, based on the cycles of the moon, that was used to predict and record important events, especially planting and harvesting of crops. Because lunar years are shorter than solar years, which are based on the Earth’s orbit of the sun, Shang kings employed specially-trained astronomers who made adjustments and maintained the precision of the calendar. Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, was a hugely important metal during the Shang period. Shang metal workers developed a highly sophisticated method for casting bronze and used it to make ceremonial objects and weapons. Bronze swords and spearheads were stronger than other available metals, giving Shang soldiers an advantage in battle. The influence of the Early Shang extended hundreds of kilometers away from the capital, and many of the Shang bronze techniques diffused over large areas. The Shang in turn adopted skills, ideas, and even crops from some neighboring societies, such as wheat and axes, which may have come from Western Asia. However—because natural barriers like the ocean, mountain ranges, deserts, and steppes kept the Shang in relative isolation—the Shang dynasty as well as later dynasties evolved in unique and insular ways. The first Shang ruler supposedly founded a new capital for his dynasty at a town called Shang, near modern-day Zhengzhou on the Yellow River, is in east-central China Henan province notable as the ancient Shang dynasty capital, whose earthen walls still stand in the city center. Shang, along with other ancient Chinese cities, had two city walls—one inner and one outer wall. The common residents could live within the outer wall, but could not go past the inner wall, which enclosed a temple area, cemetery sites, bronze foundries, bronze casting areas, and bone workshops. The inner walls thus encircled an area of political elite and craft specialists, who together were the engineers of the important ritual performances. In this way, the architecture of these cities was designed to separate different social classes. However, it seems that there were many capitals aside from this one, and rulers may have moved from one to the other because of religious rituals, military strategy, or food requirements. That suggests that the power of the dynasty was concentrated in the king, whose political authority was reinforced by the Shang religion. Anyang, another Shang capital, also in modern-day Henan Province, is another important—but slightly later—Shang city that has been excavated. It was located at the intersection between lowland agricultural areas of the North China Plain and mountains which acted as a defensive border. This site yielded large numbers of oracle bones that describe the travels of eleven named kings. The names and timeframes of these kings match traditional lists of Shang kings. Anyang was a huge city, with an extensive cemetery of thousands of graves and 11 large tombs—evidence of the city’s labor force, which may have belonged to the 11 Shang kings. Cities were crucial to political and religious affairs, and they were the seats of administrative affairs, royal tombs, palaces, and shrines. Common people were concentrated in the agricultural areas outside the cities. The border territories of Shang rule were led by chieftains who gained the right to govern through connections with royalty. Shang relied heavily on neighboring fiefs for raw materials, much of which was devoted to ceremonial performances. The Shang enacted a feudal system, a system in which duties are tied to land ownership, with sharp class divisions based on clan birthright. The aristocracy were centered around Anyang, which was the seat of governmental affairs for the surrounding areas. Regional territories farther from the capital were also controlled by the wealthy. There were many local rulers who held hereditary titles. In this imperial system, elite classes benefitted from the production of peasants and large-scale projects under elite control, usually operated using various forms of unfree labor. There is also evidence of a class of proto-bureaucrats, many of whom were titled officials, who had managerial roles and kept extensive records. Shang religion was incredibly important, and it extended into the political and economic spheres. The Shang religion and state power were closely connected state power was consolidated through a sense of reverence for royal Shang ancestors. Further, by the end of the Shang dynasty, the king was the only one who could interpret the oracle bones, thereby making him the head shaman. The Shang religion was characterized by a combination of animism, the idea that everything has a soul shamanism, the belief in shamans who have the ability to communicate with the spiritual world ancestor worship and divination. Different gods represented natural and mythological symbols, such as the moon, the sun, the wind, the rain, the dragon, and the phoenix. Peasants prayed to these gods for bountiful harvests. Festivals to celebrate gods were also common. In particular, the Shang kings, who considered themselves divine rulers, consulted the great god Shangdi—the Supreme Being who ruled over humanity and nature—for advice and wisdom. The Shang believed that the ancestors could also confer good fortune the Shang would consult ancestors through oracle bones in order to seek approval for any major decision, and to learn about future success in harvesting, hunting, or battle. It appears that there was belief in the afterlife during the Shang dynasty. Archaeologists have found Shang tombs surrounded by the skulls and bodies of human sacrifices. Some of these contain jade, which was thought to protect against decay and grant immortality. Archaeologists believe that Shang tombs were very similar to those found in the Egyptian pyramids in that they buried servants with them. Chinese archaeologists theorize that the Shang, like the ancient Egyptians, believed their servants would continue to serve them in the afterlife. Because of this belief, aristocrats’ servants would be killed and buried with them when they died. Another interpretation is that these were enemy warriors captured in battle. One elaborate tomb which has been unearthed was that of Lady Hao, a consort of a Shang king who reigned around 1200 BCE. The artifacts found in her tomb indicate that she had a high social status and a great deal of power in Shang society, which makes historians speculate about the role of women in the Shang dynasty. Based on the artifacts found in Lady Hao’s tomb, it seems that she had her own wealth and political influence, and it is possible that she also had a prominent role in the military, as many bronze weapons were found buried with her. The 16 other skeletons in Fu Hao’s tomb are believed to have been slaves, who were buried alive in order to serve her in the afterlife. The Chinese Bronze Age had begun by 3,700 years ago in the kingdom of the Shang dynasty and ancient DNA reveals a migration of the ancient Di-qiang populations into Xinjiang as early as the early Bronze Age. Moreover, in the Chinese Bronze Age it was believed the king’s right to rule was based on his good relations with the spirits of his ancestors who controlled the destiny of the domain. The king continually posed questions to his ancestors about policy. He did this by instructing his scribe to write the question on an “oracle bone” — that is, an animal shoulder blade or the breast bone of a turtle. A priest then held a hot rod to the bone until it cracked and interpreted the pattern of the cracks for the answer. It was also the king’s duty to please the great forces of nature — the sun and rain gods — who controlled the outcome of the harvest. So that these gods and his ancestor spirits would look favorably on his kingdom, the king made regular sacrifices of wine and cereals, which were placed in elaborate bronze vessels and heated over the fires on the temple altar. During the Shang dynasty bronze vessels were the symbol of royalty. At times the Shang kings make animal and human sacrifices as well and when the king and powerful members of the royal court died, it was not unusual that their wives, servants, bodyguards, horses and dogs were killed and buried with them. During the Zhou Dynasty people gradually turned away from this custom and substituted clay figures for real people and animals. The Zhou Dynasty (Chinese folk religion, Ancestor worship, and Heaven worship) lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history with capitals in Fenghao (3,046 to 2,771 years ago), Luoyang (2,510 to 314 years ago). The Zhou emulated extensively Shang cultural practices, perhaps to legitimize their own rule, and became the successors to Shang culture. At the same time, the Zhou may also have been connected to the Xirong, a broadly defined cultural group to the west of the Shang, which the Shang regarded as tributaries. In about 1050 BC the Shang dynasty was defeated in battle by armies from Zhou, a rival state to the west, which seems both to have inherited cultural traditions from the Neolithic cultures of the northwest and to have absorbed most of the material culture of the Shang. The conquerors retained their homeland in the Wei River valley in present-day Shaanxi province and portioned out the rest of their territory among their relatives and local chiefs, creating a number of local courts or principalities. The culture of the early Zhou is known to us not solely through archaeological evidence, but also through transmitted texts, such as the Book of Documents (Shujing), which describes the Zhou conquest of the Shang as the victory of just and noble warriors over a decadent and dissolute king. In these texts and bronze inscriptions alike, the rule of the Zhou kings was linked to heaven, conceived of as the sacred moral power of the cosmos. A king and a dynasty could rule only so long as they retained heaven’s favor. Zhou rulers introduced what was to prove one of East Asia’s most enduring political doctrines. The concept of the “Mandate of Heaven”. They did this so by asserting that their moral superiority justified taking over Shang wealth and territories, also that heaven had imposed a moral mandate on them to replace the Shang and return good governance to the people. The Mandate of Heaven was presented as a religious compact between the Zhou people and their supreme god in heaven (literally the ‘sky god’). The Zhou agreed that since worldly affairs were supposed to align with those of the heavens, the heavens conferred legitimate power only one person, the Zhou ruler. In return, the ruler was duty-bound to uphold heaven’s principles of harmony and honor. Any ruler who failed in this duty, who let instability creep into earthly affairs, or who let his people suffer, would lose the mandate. Under this system, it was the prerogative of spiritual authority to withdraw support from any wayward ruler and to find another, more worthy one. In this way, the Zhou sky god legitimated regime change. In using this ccreed, nthe Zhou rulers had to acknowledge that any group of rulers, even they themselves could be ousted if they lost the mandate of haven because of improper practices. The book of odes, written during the Zhou period clearly intoned this caution . The early Zhou kings contended that heaven favored their triumph because the last Shang kings had been evil men whose policies brought pain to the people through waste and corruption. After the Zhou came to power, the mandate became a political tool. Like in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus River valley, civilization in China developed around a great river. The Yellow River carried floodwater and sediment to the land around it, making the area incredibly fertile, and thus an excellent place for the Stone Age inhabitants of the area to experiment with agriculture. While the Yellow River was the main cradle of Chinese civilization, people also settled around other rivers, such as the Huai and the Yangtze. By around 4000 BC, villages began to appear. They cultivated a number of crops, but most important was a grain called millet (two types of millet: proso and foxtail millet). The Chinese, even up to modern times, revere the Wǔgǔ, the Five Sacred Grains, which are traditionally considered soybeans, wheat, hemp, and the two types of millet. Rice was also cultivated in this period, but it was not yet the important staple that it would later become in the Chinese diet. The Neolithic Chinese domesticated animals such as pigs, dogs, and chickens. Silk production, through the domestication of silk worms, probably also began in this early period. During the Neolithic period in China, there were multiple groups of people, mostly around the Yellow River, with separate emerging cultures. Some of these various cultures include the Yangshao culture (ca. 4800 – ca. 3000 BC), the Majiayao culture (ca. 3800 – ca. 2000 BC), the Dawenkou culture (ca. 4300 – ca. 2400 BC), the Qijia culture (ca. 2200 – ca. 1800 BC), and the Longshan culture (ca. 2600 – ca. 2000 BC). Over time, they influenced each other more and more, and pottery, art, and artifacts recovered by archaeologists show greater homogenization as time went on. By 2000 BC a more unified Chinese culture was developing, and there is also evidence of urbanism and the use of early writing among the Chinese. Archaeologists have discovered advanced Bronze Age culture in China, which they call the Erlitou culture. Its capital, Erlitou, was a huge city around 2000 BC, with two possible palaces, a drainage system, and what seems to have been a very high population. This may be the people referred to in Chinese mythology as the Xia. ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref
A 4,300-year-old city, which has a massive step pyramid that is at least 230 feet (70 meters) high and spans 59 acres (24 hectares) at its base, has been excavated in China. The pyramid was decorated with eye symbols and “anthropomorphic,” or part-human, part-animal faces. Those figures “may have endowed the stepped pyramid with special religious power and further strengthened the general visual impression on its large audience,” the archaeologists wrote in the article. The pyramid contains 11 steps, each of which was lined with stone. On the topmost step, there “were extensive palaces built of rammed earth, with wooden pillars and roofing tiles, a gigantic water reservoir. The city’s rulers lived in these palaces, and art and craft production were carried out nearby. The stepped pyramid complex seems to possibly have functioned not only as a residential space for ruling Shimao elites, but also as a space for artisanal or industrial craft production. Shimao is a Neolithic site in Shenmu County, Shaanxi, China. The site in located in the northern part of the Loess Plateau, on the southern edge of the Ordos Desert. Unusual features include jade embedded in the city walls, possibly to provide spiritual protection, and paintings of geometrical patterns on the inner walls. Many human skulls were found under the city gate, suggesting ritual sacrifices during construction. For five centuries, a city flourished around the pyramid. At one time, the city encompassed an area of 988 acres (400 hectares), making it one of the largest in the world, the archaeologists wrote. Today, the ruins of the city are called “Shimao,” but its name in ancient times is unknown. A series of stone walls with ramparts and gates were built around the pyramid and the city. “At the entrance to the stepped pyramid were sophisticated bulwarks [defensive walls] whose design suggests that they were intended to provide both defense and highly restricted access. The remains of numerous human sacrifices have been discovered at Shimao. “In the outer gateway of the eastern gate on the outer rampart alone, six pits containing decapitated human heads. Some of the victims may be from another archaeological site called Zhukaigou, which is located to the north of Shimao, and the people of Shimao may have conquered the neighboring site. “Morphological analysis of the human remains suggests that the victims may have been related to the residents of Zhukaigou, which could further suggest that they were taken to Shimao as captives during the expansion of the Shimao polity,” the study said. While archaeologists have known about Shimao for many years, it was once thought to be part of the Great Wall of China, a section of which is located nearby. It wasn’t until excavations were carried out in recent years that archaeologists realized that Shimao is far older than the Great Wall, which was built between 2,700 and 400 years ago. ref, ref
Lastly, the pyramids of Mesoamerica follow this precise design even though there is no clear evidence of cultural exchange between Egypt and cities such as Chichen Itza or Tikal or the great city of Tenochtitlan. The Americas actually contain more pyramid structures than the rest of the planet combined. Pre-Olmec cultures had flourished in the area since about 4.500 years ago, but by around 3,600 to 2,500 years ago, Early Olmec culture had emerged. Civilizations like the Olmec, Maya, Aztec and Inca all built pyramids to house their deities, as well as to bury their kings. Generally speaking, Mesoamerican peoples built pyramids dating to around 3,000 years ago, up until the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. The Great Olmec Pyramid is one of the earliest pyramids known in Mesoamerica. By 2,900 years ago the centre of San Lorenzo is destroyed and monuments are defaced and La Venta becomes the Olmec capital but by around 2,300 to 2,400 years ago La Venta is destroyed, monuments are defaced and the Olmec civilization ends. Maya Temple 1 around 2,600 years ago at Comalcalco Mexico. The city’s buildings were made from fired-clay bricks held together with mortar made from oyster shells. The use of bricks at Comalcalco was unique among Maya sites, and many of them are decorated with iconography and/or hieroglyphs. The west side platform at the Monte Alban pyramid complex around 2,500 years ago, is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in the Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán Municipality in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca located on a low mountainous range rising above the plain in the central section of the Valley of Oaxaca where the latter’s northern Etla, eastern Tlacolula, and southern Zimatlán & Ocotlán (or Valle Grande) branches meet. The present-day state capital Oaxaca City is located approximately 9 km (6 mi) east of Monte Albán. The partially excavated civic-ceremonial center of the Monte Albán site is situated atop an artificially-leveled ridge, which with an elevation of about 6,400 ft above mean sea level rises some 1,300 ft from the valley floor, in an easily defensible location. In addition to the monumental core, the site is characterized by several hundred artificial terraces, and a dozen clusters of mounded architecture covering the entire ridgeline and surrounding flanks. Besides being one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica, Monte Albán’s importance stems also from its role as the pre-eminent Zapotec socio-political and economic center for close to a thousand years. Generally, Mesoamerican peoples built pyramids date to around 3,000 years ago up until the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. The Great Olmec Pyramid is one of the earliest pyramids known in Mesoamerica. The best known Latin American pyramids include the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacán in central Mexico, the Castillo at Chichén Itzá in the Yucatan, the Great Pyramid in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, the Pyramid at Cholula and the Inca’s great temple at Cuzco in Peru. The Aztecs, who lived in the Mexican valley between the 12th and 16th centuries, also built pyramids in order to house and honor their deities. The elaborate nature of Aztec pyramids and other architecture was also connected to the Aztec’s warrior culture: The Aztec symbol for conquest was a burning pyramid, with a conqueror destroying the temple at its top. Tenochtitlan, the great Aztec capital, housed the Great Pyramid, a four-stepped structure some 60 meters high. At its top, two shrines honored Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of sun and war, and Tlaloc, god of rain and fertility. The Great Pyramid was destroyed along with the rest of the Aztec civilization by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his army in 1521. Underneath its ruins, the remains of six earlier pyramids were later found, evidence of the constant rebuilding process common to the Mesoamerican pyramids. More pyramids can be found in South America, which was home to indigenous populations like the Moche, Chimú and Incas. The Moche, who lived along the northern coast of what is now Peru, built their pyramids of adobe, or sun-dried mud-bricks. The Huaca del Sol (or Holy Place of the Sun) was almost 100 feet tall and built of more than 143 million bricks, while the Huaca de la Luna (dedicated to the moon) was rebuilt multiple times over a 600-year period. Some 80 years before the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro arrived in the Andes, the Inca ruler Pachacuti Yupanqui (A.D. 1438 to 1471) began the construction of a great temple-pyramid, Sascahuamán, in the capital city of Cuzco. It took 20,000 workers 50 years to build the pyramid, constructed from huge stones fitted together without mortar. The Incas, Latin America’s last great indigenous civilization to survive, used the same building techniques to construct their marvelous stone city, Machu Picchu, high in the Andes. Archaeologists discover an around 2,500 to 2,700 year-old tomb of a dignitary inside a pyramid in southern Mexico may be oldest such burial documented in Mesoamerica, seeming to express one of the earliest discoveries of the use of a pyramid as a tomb, not only as a religious site or temple. It may be almost 1,000 years older than the better-known pyramid tomb of the Mayan ruler Pakal at the Palenque archaeological site, also in Chiapas. The man – probably a high priest or ruler of Chiapa de Corzo, a prominent settlement at the time – was buried in a stone chamber. Marks in the wall indicate wooden roof supports were used to create the tomb, but the wood long ago collapsed under the weight of the pyramid built above. Archaeologists began digging into the pyramid mound in April to study the internal structure – pyramids were often built in layers, one atop another – when they happened on a wall whose finished stones appeared to face inward. They uncovered the 4 x 3 metre tomb chamber about 6 or 7 metres beneath what had been the pyramid’s peak. The body of a one-year-old child was laid carefully over the man’s body inside the tomb, while that of a 20-year-old male was tossed into the chamber with less care, perhaps sacrificed at the time of burial. The older man was buried with jade and amber collars and bracelets and pearl ornaments. His face was covered with what may have been a funeral mask with obsidian eyes. Nearby, the tomb of a woman (left), also about 50, contained similar ornaments. The ornaments – some imported from as far away as Guatemala and central Mexico – and some of the 15 ceramic vessels found in the tomb show influences from the Olmec culture, long considered the “mother culture” of the region. The find raised the possibility that Olmec pyramids might contain similar tombs of dignitaries, especially at sites such as La Venta. Olmec pyramids, while well-known, have not been excavated, in part because the high water table and humidity of their Gulf coast sites are not as conducive to preserving buried human remains. Despite the Chiapa de Corzo tomb’s location, relates to Olmec, there is no tie to Maya at this time and it is not clear the later Maya culture learned or inherited the practice of pyramid burials from the Zoques, or Olmecs. Furthermore, while it’s clear that Egyptian pyramids have the purpose of being more of a tomb while pyramids found in Mesoamerica seem to be more ceremonial. Mesoamerican pyramid-shaped structures form a prominent part of ancient Mesoamerican architecture. Although similar in shape or form, these structures bear only a very weak architectural resemblance to Egyptian pyramids. The Mesoamerican examples are usually step pyramids with temples on top – more akin to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia than to the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Shipbuilding was known to the Ancient Egyptians as early as 3000 BCE, and perhaps earlier. Ancient Egyptians knew how to assemble planks of wood into a ship hull, with woven straps used to lash the planks together, and reeds or grass stuffed between the planks helped to seal the seams. The Archaeological Institute of America reports that the earliest dated ship—75 feet long, dating to 3000 BCE —may have possibly belonged to Pharaoh Aha. The oldest known civilization in Mesoamerica was known as the Olmec, dating roughly from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE. Pre-Olmec cultures had flourished in the area since about 4,500 years ago. They were the first Mesoamerican civilization and laid many of the foundations for the civilizations that followed. Among other “firsts”, the Olmec appeared to practice ritual bloodletting and played the Mesoamerican ballgame, hallmarks of nearly all subsequent Mesoamerican societies. The aspect of the Olmecs most familiar now is their artwork, particularly the aptly named “colossal stone heads“. This environment may be compared to that of other ancient centers of civilization: the Nile, Indus, and Yellow River valleys, and Mesopotamia. This highly productive environment encouraged a densely concentrated population, which in turn triggered the rise of an elite class. The elite class created the demand for the production of the symbolic and sophisticated luxury artifacts that define Olmec culture. Many of these luxury artifacts were made from materials such as jade, obsidian, and magnetite, which came from distant locations and suggest that early Olmec elites had access to an extensive trading network in Mesoamerica. The source of the most valued jade Motagua River valley in eastern Guatemala, and Olmec obsidian has been traced to sources in the Guatemala highlands, such as El Chayal and San Martín Jilotepeque, or in Puebla, distances ranging from 200 to 400 km (120–250 miles) away, respectively. The first Olmec center, San Lorenzo, was all but abandoned around 900 BCE at about the same time that La Venta rose to prominence. A wholesale destruction of many San Lorenzo monuments also occurred circa 950 BCE, which may indicate an internal uprising or, less likely, an invasion. the Olmecs are credited, or speculatively credited, with many “firsts”, including the bloodletting and perhaps human sacrifice, writing and epigraphy, and the invention of popcorn, zero and the Mesoamerican calendar, and the Mesoamerican ballgame, as well as perhaps the compass. Some researchers, including artist and art historian Miguel Covarrubias, even postulate that the Olmecs formulated the forerunners of many of the later Mesoamerican deities. The wide diffusion of Olmec artifacts and “Olmecoid” iconography throughout much of Mesoamerica indicates the existence of extensive long-distance trade networks. The Olmec may have been the first civilization in the Western Hemisphere to develop a writing system. Symbols found in 2002 and 2006 date from 650 BCE and 900 BCE respectively, preceding the oldest Zapotec writing found so far, which dates from about 500 BCE. The 2002 find at the San Andrés site shows a bird, speech scrolls, and glyphs that are similar to the later Mayan hieroglyphs. Known as the Cascajal Block, and dated between 1100 BCE and 900 BCE, the 2006 find from a site near San Lorenzo shows a set of 62 symbols, 28 of which are unique, carved on a serpentine block. A large number of prominent archaeologists have hailed this find as the “earliest pre-Columbian writing”. Others are skeptical because of the stone’s singularity, the fact that it had been removed from any archaeological context, and because it bears no apparent resemblance to any other Mesoamerican writing system. Olmec religious activities were performed by a combination of rulers, full-time priests, and shamans. The rulers seem to have been the most important religious figures, with their links to the Olmec deities or supernaturals providing legitimacy for their rule. There is also considerable evidence for shamans in the Olmec archaeological record, particularly in the so-called “transformation figures“. As Olmec mythology has left no documents comparable to the Popul Vuh from Maya mythology, any exposition of Olmec mythology must be based on interpretations of surviving monumental and portable art (such as the Las Limas figure at right), and comparisons with other Mesoamerican mythologies. Olmec art shows that such deities as the Feathered Serpent and a rain supernatural were already in the Mesoamerican pantheon in Olmec times. There are also well-documented later hieroglyphs known as “Epi-Olmec“, and while there are some who believe that Epi-Olmec may represent a transitional script between an earlier Olmec writing system and Mayan writing, the matter remains unsettled. The name “Olmec” means “rubber people” in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec, and was the Aztec name for the people who lived in the Gulf Lowlands in the 15th and 16th centuries, some 2000 years after the Olmec culture died out. The term “rubber people” refers to the ancient practice, spanning from ancient Olmecs to Aztecs, of extracting latex from Castilla elastica, a rubber tree in the area. There does seem to be many baffling and unsolved similarities link the ancient Egyptians and the ancient pre-Incas/Incas ― even though both cultures evolved on opposite sides of the planet, separated by oceans. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…built stone pyramids and stepped pyramids in the desert along rivers and aligned with cardinal points. In both cases, deceased were interred within. BOTH THE EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…Mummified their dead, which symbolized life beyond death. Mummies were interred inside pyramids, often with food offerings and personal belongings. Both cultures believed in life beyond death. BOTH THE EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…Crossed the arms of their mummified dead. This was to show the “balance” state that one entered in death, as one lived a balanced life. The two arms denote opposites in balance, a left side and a right side crossed. BOTH THE EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…Placed gold masks upon their dead, symbolizing their entering back into eternity, the “other side” of the veil, the higher home in the heavens, which is eternal and spiritual, unlike earth, which is temporary and physical. It also conveys in an alchemical sense the idea that, while they were here, these eternal souls took on the lead of human form and turned it into gold. BOTH THE EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…Adorned their dead with gold necklaces the ends of which are formed by twin animal heads facing outward, symbolizing our human/animal powers balanced and in an equal peaceful state and place of power and eternity. This “balance” state is how the alchemical transformation is achieved, hence the gold. BOTH THE EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…built very similar looking stonemasonry, even down to the detail of carving bulges or “bumps” in the stones. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…created precision-like stone cuts in their masonry, such that a piece of paper can barely fit between stones. Often no mortar was used. This symbolizes the quest to gain perfection, or nearness to perfection, which leads one closer to our spiritual and heavenly home and eternal source. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…built trapezoid doorways, signifying spiritual advancement upward. The trapezoid is similar to a triangle, which denotes ascension and spiritual transcendence. The trapezoid doorway is used by many ancient cultures. It relates a kind of futuristic state of humanity that occurred in the distant past, when people were calm and had attained nirvana this doorway is the symbol of the high wisdom once possessed by our ancient ancestors. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…designed twin symmetrical serpents above the trapezoidal doorway entrance to their temples. The idea of balancing the opposing energies is certainly presented here, via these twin animals in symmetrical balanced poses. This “balanced opposites” image seems to be the “ideal” that is taught within the building that is entered through these doors. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…elongated the skulls of their children to sharpen senses and improve spiritual insight. This seemingly-bizarre practice has not truly raised the eyebrows of modern scholars, not nearly as much as it should. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…built and erected sacred obelisks as devices of profound male power, fertility, birth, longevity, strength. Great reverence was given to obelisks they were among the most revered landmarks. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…used solar symbolism as a definitive part of their religion, which was identical. In Egypt the solar deity was Ra, in Peru the solar deity was Inti. In both cultures, you are the solar deity the sun is a symbol of you, of your soul. You are a sol. You are an eternal divine sun. You have voluntarily Incarnated in matter, but now have amnesia of your true spiritual Self, you’ve lost your way home. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…used animal deities in symmetrical poses flanking a central solar emblem. Just as the sun strikes a perfect balance between Winter and Summer, the extreme Cold and extreme Hot seasons…so it is vital for our own inner suns (the sun symbolizes our eternal soul or Self) to balance our own positive and negative twin animal energies, urges, instincts, appetites, etc. in order to stay in balance and in harmony with nature. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…used the “animal on the forehead motif” to evoke the power of the Third Eye. Both cultures understood that we can create a trancelike state where we “awaken” our so-called “Mind’s Eye,” “Inner Eye,” or “Third Eye,” a symbol of spiritual illumination thought of as existing near the forehead above and between the two eyes―exactly where the animal is placed. BOTH THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS AND INCAS / PRE-INCAS…built the same identical Triptych temples. The Triptych design is a worldwide architectural phenomenon that graces the facades of temples, and that symbolizes the same Universal Religion practiced all over the ancient world. The religion is based on the same “balance of opposites” formula described above. The twin outer doors symbolize opposites (the left-side / right-side of our lower temporary self) while the middle door symbolizes the central point of eternity (the centered higher eternal Self). In part because the Olmecs developed the first Mesoamerican civilization and in part because little is known of the Olmecs (relative, for example, to the Maya or Aztec), a number of Olmec alternative origin speculations have been put forth. Although several of these speculations, particularly the theory that the Olmecs were of African origin popularized by Ivan van Sertima‘s book They Came Before Columbus, have become well-known within popular culture, they are not considered credible by the vast majority of Mesoamerican researchers and scientists, who discard it as pop-culture pseudo-science.
SO ONE WOULD THINK THAT THERE IS NO CONNECTION WITH ANCIENT EGYPT BUT COULD THERE BE A MIDDLE EAST DNA CONNECTION OR NOT?
Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome. DNA from the remains revealed genes found today in western Eurasians in the Middle East and Europe, as well as other aspects unique to Native Americans, but no evidence of any relation to modern East Asians. (Related: “Is This Russian Landscape the Birthplace of Native Americans?”) A second individual genome sequenced from material found at the site and dated to 17,000 years ago revealed a similar genetic structure. It also provided evidence that humans occupied this region of Siberia throughout the entire brutally cold period of the Last Glacial Maximum, which ended about 13,000 years ago. Prevailing theories suggest that Native Americans are descended from a group of East Asians who crossed the Bering Sea via a land bridge perhaps 16,500 years ago, though some sites may evidence an earlier arrival. (See “Siberian, Native American Languages Linked—A First .”) At approximately one-third of the genome, adds to the land bridge theories still formed as the gateway to America, but it seems this study now portrays Native Americans as a group derived from the meeting of two different populations, one ancestral to East Asians and the other related to western Eurasians acording to research was published in the November 20 edition of the journal Nature. “The meeting of those two groups is what formed Native Americans as we know them.” (Learn more about National Geographic’s Genographic Project.) What does this mean? Well, the discovery provides simpler and more likely explanations to long-standing controversies related to the peopling of the Americas. The findings could also allow a reinterpretation of archaeological and anthropological evidence. “Maybe, if he looks like something else, it’s because a third of his ancestry isn’t coming from East Asia but from something like the western Eurasians.” (Read about history’s great migration mysteries.) Many questions remain unanswered, including where and when the mixing of west Eurasian and East Asian populations occurred. “It could have been somewhere in Siberia or potentially in the New World, but much more likely that it occurred in the Old World. Intriguing questions also exist about the nature of the advanced Upper Paleolithic Mal’ta society that now appears to figure in Native American genomes. The Siberian child “was found buried with all kinds of cultural items, including Venus figurines, which have been found from Lake Baikal west all the way to Europe. “So now we know that the individual represented with this culture is a western Eurasian, even though he was found very far east. It’s an interesting question how closely related this individual might have been to the individuals carving these figurines at the same time in Europe and elsewhere.”
MOREOVER, WHILE ONE WOULD THINK THAT THERE IS NO CONNECTION WITH ANCIENT EGYPT BUT COULD THERE BE A DRUG CONNECTION OR NOT?
The Destruction Of Tenochtitlan
Wikimedia Commons Two years after Cortés landed on the coast of Mexico with an army of soldiers, he completely destroyed Tenochtitlan.
In 1521, Cortés lay waste to Tenochtitlan. The Spaniard had a significant advantage over the Aztecs, who, at first, took him to be the god Quetzalcoatl.
To the Aztecs, Cortés may have seemed to possess godly might. He brought with him smallpox, which decimated the indigenous people. He brought guns, which meant his troops could easily overpower the Aztec warriors. Cortés also had the luxury of a Mayan liaison, known as La Malinche, who could interpret Aztec plans and actions for him.
Cortés was ruthless and merciless. Upon hearing of an uprising among Aztec religious leaders, his second-in-command trapped them in a temple during a religious ceremony and sent in soldiers to massacre them.
No amount of ritual sacrifice could stop Cortés, and the Spaniard ended the world as the Aztecs knew it.
Spanish soldiers viciously destroyed Templo Mayor and the city of Tenochtitlan. One Spanish chronicler noted that “all the wonders” of Tenochtitlan “were overthrown and lost, nothing left standing.”
Other Spaniards described the Aztec capital in more nightmarish terms. In particular, they described the horrifying sight within a temple: a chamber filled wall to ceiling with human skulls.
It was believed that these macabre claims were perhaps just propaganda meant to justify the Spaniards’ destruction of the Aztec civilization — until the 2017 discovery proved them to be true.
On the island of Savai’i you can find Polynesia’s largest ancient structure, the Pulemelei Mound. The Lonely Planet guide for Samoa describes it:
This large pyramid measures 61 metres by 50 metres at the base and rises in two tiers to a height of more than 12 metres. It is almost squarely oriented with the compass directions.. Smaller mounds and platforms are found in four directions away from the main structure. There is a relatively large platform about 40 metres north of the main pyramid and connected to it by a stone walkway.
Unfortunately the jungle there is almost uncontrollable. The pyramid has been cleared on several occasions, but when I studied it in 1996 it was overgrown and difficult to locate. So much so, that it was only when I kicked a stone embedded in the top platform did I realise I had found it! The bottom right corner of the photo is the pyramid. UPDATE: Since 2002 the site has been cleared and studied by experts. New pictures and information.
In the spring of 2006 five pyramids had been found in central Bosnia in the town Visoko. The biggest is the Pyramid of the Sun with height of 220 metres. Other pyramids are also huge. The Bosnian pyramids don’t look like the Egyptian pyramids. Scientists and researchers from Egypt, Austria, England, Russia, Croatia and other countries join to Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramids of the Sun Foundation to find the truth about builders and meanings of the mysterious pyramids in Bosnia and Herzegovina… >>>
The list of articles about the Bosnian Pyramids:
Impressions of the Bosnia Pyramids—From One American’s Point of View By Sharon Prince Wothke
located about 40 km northeast of Milan and about 15 km south of Lecco in Lombardy/Italy there is a small village with 3 pyramid shaped hills. These hills in Montevecchia were discovered in 2003 by the Italian architect Vincenzo DeGregorio.
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Three pyramidal hills near Florence
14 km south of Florence/Tuscany there are 3 hills near the city of PONTASSIEVE (meaning: bridge over the river Sieve). These hills rise approx.140 m high from elevation 130 m to 270 m. The orientation is N-S/E-W with their edges. They stand in the so-called Orion formation, which means the geometrical pattern is equal to the Belt Stars of Orion. No excavation has been conducted so far. But the area of Pontassieve is well known for its prehistoric finds. There has been a paleolithic settlement dated to 25000 BC.
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In Greece, there are now 16 catalogued pyramids. Though some may be natural, others—like the Hellinikon pyramid near the village of Argolis—are clearly man-made structures. Intriguingly, one thermo-luminescence test by the Academy of Athens has dated the structure to 2720 BC, contemporaneous with the Egyptian pyramid age. Though pyramidal in shape, the Greek structures do not enthral like the Egyptian pyramids, which dwarf them in size. Read more on European Pyramids
Pyramids of Tenerife island
There is a huge lava stone complex with 6 pyramids, partially reconstructed, in the town of Güimar on Tenerife. Discovered by Thor Heyerdahl in 1999 and turned into a museum with archaeological park.
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In Maribor, northern Slovenia close to the Austrian border, a hill named Piramida (elevation 386m, height from base to top appr.80m) overlooks the city and has once served as lookout post for the defence of the city. Two more hills, called Kalvarija and Mesti Vrh, of similar height and aligned with Piramida stand next to it. Read more on European Pyramids
Another of Peru’s famous attractions, the local Andean belief is that Titicaca was the birthplace of the sun. Titicaca is the highest large lake in the world with many animals and plants adapted to the high altitude environment. The lake also has the largest volume of water of any South American lake and sits on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
Around 500 species call the lake home and are adapted to Titicaca’s unusual conditions, such as the giant Titicaca water frog with its flaps of skin suited to absorb the region’s limited oxygen.
Culturally fascinating, Titicaca is home to some floating artificial islands made of reeds, which are home to the Uros community who live here. Used originally to help defend the lake from enemies, the islands can be visited from the town of Puno.
The locals around the lake still harvest crops by hand and usually wear a traditional dress, such as women working in petticoats and bowler hats and children in colorful Andean clothes. As this is the Andean environment, you can also see Peru’s iconic llamas walking behind their local owners.
5000-year-old Pyramid Structure Leads to Grisly Finds In Peru - History
Watch Part Number: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | The Lost Pyramids of Caral
BBC Two 9.00pm Thursday 31 January 2002
Caral dates from 2,600 BC making it one of the earliest known civilisations on Earth The magnificent ancient city of pyramids at Caral in Peru hit the headlines in 2001. The site is a thousand years older than the earliest known civilisation in the Americas and, at 2,627 BC, is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. Many now believe it is the fabled missing link of archaeology - a 'mother city'. If so, then these extraordinary findings could finally answer one of the great questions of archaeology: why did humans become civilised?
For over a century, archaeologists have been searching for what they call a mother city. Civilisation began in only six areas of the world: Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Peru and Central America. In each of these regions people moved from small family units to build cities of thousands of people. They crossed the historic divide, one of the great moments in human history. Why? To find the answer archaeologists needed to find a mother city - the first stage of city-building.
Civilisation through conflict
They couldn't find one anywhere. Everywhere this first stage seemed destroyed or built over. And so, instead, scientists developed a number of theories. Some said it was because of the development of trade, others that it was irrigation. Some even today believe it was all because of aliens. Gradually an uneasy consensus emerged. The key force common to all civilisations was warfare.
The theory was that only the fear of war could motivate people to give up the simple life and form complex societies. To prove it, archaeologists still had to find a city from that very first stage of civilisation. If it showed signs of warfare, then the theory had to be true.
Peruvian archaeologist, Ruth ShadyWhen archaeologist Ruth Shady discovered her 5,000 year old city of pyramids in the Peruvian desert, all eyes were on the New World. Ruth's extraordinary city, known as Caral, is so much older than anything else in South America that it is a clear candidate to be the mother city. It also is in pristine condition. Nothing has been built on it at all. Instead laid out before the world is an elaborate complex of pyramids, temples, an amphitheatre and ordinary houses.
Make love not war
Crucially, there is not the faintest trace of warfare at Caral no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. Instead, Ruth's findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on commerce and pleasure. In one of the pyramids they uncovered beautiful flutes made from condor and pelican bones. They have also found evidence of a culture that took drugs and perhaps aphrodisiacs. Most stunning of all, they have found the remains of a baby, lovingly wrapped and buried with a precious necklace made of stone beads.
NARRATOR (JOHN SHRAPNEL): It is one of humanity's epic journeys. Thousands of years ago people first came out of the wild and formed civilisation. They would build huge monuments, like the pyramids and all the great cities of the Ancient World, but why did they do it? What forces gave birth to civilisation? For years archaeologists have been trying to get back to when it all began to find the answer and now at last it seems they may have done it, for they are now exploring a lost city of pyramids in Peru. It is nearly five thousand years old and the story it tells about why we embarked on this great journey is more extraordinary than anyone had ever expected. Peru's desert coast, trapped between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Nothing survives out here. Explorers once hurried through in search of the gold and the treasures of the Incas hidden in the mountains beyond, but no one stopped, but then seven years ago somebody did. Ruth Shady had heard of some mysterious unexplained mounds and, alone, set off through the desert to find them and then right in the middle of this dead land she found this: a huge hill rising out of the desert.
DR RUTH SHADY (University of San Marcos, Lima): When I first arrived in the valley in 1994 I was overwhelmed. This place is somewhere between the seat of the gods and the home of man. It is a very strange place.
NARRATOR: Then as she looked closer she thought she could see something hidden under the rubble and stones. In her mind's eye she could make out the faintest outline of a pyramid and as she looked around she could she another and then another. Ruth Shady had stumbled on a lost city. It was a discovery that would stun the world of archaeology because it would finally begin to solve one of the great unanswered questions: why our ancestors abandoned a life of simplicity and started down the road to civilisation. Today's modern city is the pinnacle of human civilisation. Millions of people choosing to live and work together. In a civilisation everyone has a specific task that helps towards a common goal. Workers, professionals, home-makers - they all come together to build the same society. Above them all, powerful rulers. They command who does what and when and where they do it, but it was not always like this. How this complex system came about has long been a huge puzzle to scientists.
PROF C.C. LAMBERG-KARLOVSKY (Harvard University): For more than a century surely one of the most important questions addressed by archaeologists is also its biggest. What is the origin of civilisation? This has been a central theme, a guiding post for virtually all archaeologists working on every continent of the world.
NARRATOR: Because civilisation was not inevitable. For more than a hundred thousand years there were neither rulers nor cities. Humanity either roamed the world in small family groupings, or lived in tiny villages. There was little planning, little leadership and no future. Just survival and then something happened. Six thousand years ago people started to move out of their villages and build huge cities. Archaeologists called this crossing the great divide. This happened in six places across the world - in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and India - and in the New World in Peru and Central America. Without these pioneers crossing that great divide our modern world would not exist.
DR KEN FEDER (Central Connecticut State University): And what's exciting for us is that here we are in the 21st century living in societies that ultimately are, that ultimately result from that historical change, that historical divide.
NARRATOR: Archaeologists examined each early civilisation in turn searching for clues as to why they'd suddenly appeared and again and again they found they had many things in common.
C.C. LAMBERG-KARLOVSKY: For instance, numeracy, mathematics and calendrical systems. Writing.
KEN FEDER: Pottery. Metallurgy.
NARRATOR: But above all there was something else.
KEN FEDER: Monumental architecture.
NARRATOR: In every early civilisation it was the same. Huge, monumental structures. This was the ultimate sign of people coming together under rulers for a common goal. Pyramids marked the arrival of civilisation.
KEN FEDER: You can't build a huge structure like that on the basis of consensus. You have to have leaders and followers, you have to have specialists, you have to have people who are in charge, people who can tell individual groups alright today you will be doing this, this group you're going top be doing something different.
NARRATOR: But none of this explained why our ancestors crossed this historic divide. What had made us give up the simple life for the city? That question still bewitches archaeologists because to explain it is to understand the very soul of modern humanity.
KEN FEDER: And that's the key question: how does that happen, when does it happen and why does it happen?
NARRATOR: There were, of course, plenty of theories. Some said it was irrigation, others trade, some claim even today it was aliens, but many said it was something else entirely, something terrifying: warfare. The theory was simple. Warfare forced groups of villages to huddle together for protection. This led to new ways of organising society. Powerful leaders emerged and these leaders became pharaohs and kings. They would assign tasks and organise lives. Complex society was born out of fear. For 20 years Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer have tested the warfare theory around the world. A husband and wife team of archaeologists, they've found the tell-tale signs of battle in every early civilisation.
JONATHAN HAAS (Field Museum, Chicago): As you look at culture, as it becomes more complex, warfare seems to be everywhere, that these societies seem to be always at war, or war's depicted in the art, war's depicted in the architecture, you see a warrior class or you see standing armies, you see generals. When you get writing, writing is about warfare.
NARRATOR: While it is not universally accepted, many agree with Haas's conclusions that warfare was a crucial driving force behind the birth of modern society.
C.C. LAMBERG-KARLOVSKY: I frankly find it difficult to conceive of the emergence of urbanisation complexity civilisation in the absence of degrees of conflict, or the presence of, of warfare.
NARRATOR: But it was only a theory. Archaeologists had no proof, so they spent years scouring the earth, hunting for a way of turning theory into fact. What they needed to find was what archaeologists call a mother city. This is the missing link of archaeology, the very first stage of civilisation, just as humanity crossed the great divide.
KEN FEDER: So if we could find one of these absolutely earliest stages of civilisation it would make an enormous contribution to our understanding of the process of the development of civilisation.
NARRATOR: If their theory was right, then the mother city should be filled with the signs of battle, but they always hit the same obstacle. Civilisations constantly build upon themselves. It means the earliest stages are all but wiped out.
KEN FEDER: Human beings reconstruct buildings, human beings recycle materials. It is very often difficult to be able to coax out of that mass of material sort of the base of that civilisation. What constitutes the original civilisation.
NARRATOR: After years of searching in the Old World they'd found little. They still needed to find the earliest stage that had not been built on, somewhere pristine and so the search for the mother city switched from the Old World to the New. Peru, home to one of the greatest of all civilisations - the Incas. Here high in the Andean mountains they ruled a mighty empire until destroyed by the Spaniards five hundred years ago, but the origins of this great civilisation stretch back thousands of years and its earliest stages remain shrouded in mystery and so the search for the mother city settled here, this time on the Peruvian coast where, thousands of years ago, it all began. Seven years ago the search to find that elusive first stage of civilisation arrived here, just 10 miles from the coast in the Casma Valley. Something truly spectacular was discovered, one of the biggest pyramids in the world. This pyramid is so huge that for a century explorers ignored it, convinced it could only be a hill. It is the rival of anything in Egypt.
DR TOM POZORSKI (University of Texas-Pan American): This is a pyramid that ranks as one of the largest in the world, period. It's one that covers on the surface of the mound it covers like 15 football fields. The volume of it is some, we calculate something like two million cubic metres of material.
NARRATOR: But the pyramid was only the beginning. The whole site spreads out over six miles and includes a host of lesser pyramids. In front of the main pyramid four plazas extend out for over a mile. Thousands of people could have met and done business here. The Casma Valley is one of the wonders of Peru and it is a site that reeks of civilisation.
TOM POZORSKI: Visitors of this valley, upon first seeing this pyramid, what is said this society that built it had its act together. This society's very powerful, this society is, is a society that really is very highly organised.
NARRATOR: Tom Pozorski and his wife Sheila were about to make Casma into one of the sensations of archaeology because four years ago they unearthed some wooden poles inside the main pyramid. Wood can be carbon dated. The results showed it had been built in 1500 BC. It made Casma the oldest city ever discovered in the Americas and an instant candidate to be the mother city. Then they dug deeper and everywhere they found the tell-tale signs of a civilisation at its very earliest stage. There was pottery, but it was very simple and there was art, but again it was crude. Everything was at its most basic. It all seemed to point to one thing - Casma had to be the mother city, but the final question for the archaeologists was were there signs of battle, was it really true that the first civilisations were born out of warfare? Then came the final breakthrough. It happened in one of the outlying pyramids. There they found some carvings.
TOM POZORSKI: We have warrior figures next to their victims who are cut up, they're beheaded, their bodies cut in half.
JONATHAN HAAS: Heads have blood flowing from their eyes and blood flowing from their mouths and then you have body parts so you'll have just the leg and you'll have a torso or you'll have feet and you'll have crossed hands.
NARRATOR: For archaeologists like Jonathan Haas these carvings confirmed what they'd long suspected: warfare really did seem to be the force that gave birth to civilisation. It appeared the answer to why we'd crossed the great divide from the simple to the civilised had been found. Archaeology's great quest seemed to have ended at Casma, the mother city, but Casma's days as an archaeological sensation were numbered. Just as it was reaching the height of its fame, Ruth Shady found her mysterious hills and they would transform everything. Ruth went back to the site again and again and she took with her a team of students and archaeologists. Their first task: to get a rough idea of how old Caral, as the site was known, actually was. For this they needed to find pottery because archaeologists are skilled at dating sites just by the style of the pottery they find, but after weeks of searching they found nothing.
RUTH SHADY: For two months we looked for pottery. Every night we asked each other if anybody had found any, but nobody had. We were completely baffled.
NARRATOR: This was very puzzling. Every early civilisation is littered with pottery, even Casma, but not this one, so they looked for something else you'd expect to find in a civilisation: metal tools, but the only tools they found were made not of metal but stone. There was only one conclusion: this was a civilisation at an extraordinarily early stage.
RUTH SHADY: Little by little as we analysed our findings, we began to realise that this place was completely different to anything we had seen before and it was much older than we'd expected.
NARRATOR: But how old? They'd still found nothing they could date and so they decided to dig inside Caral's biggest structures - the pyramids. This was a massive undertaking. The site was enormous and the pyramids huge. Ruth needed help, so she recruited the Army. In their way lay thousands of tons of sand, rubble and stones built up over millennia. It would have to be shifted and so as to avoid any damage to the original structures it could only be done one bucket at a time. Gradually they caught glimpses of what lay beneath: some of the original stones, traces of plaster, paint not seen for thousands of years, a series of staircases and the wall at the front of the pyramid. There was no doubt these pyramids would have required craftsmen, architects, a huge workforce and leaders, all the trappings of civilisation and then at last one of her team found what they were looking for. Sticking out of the foundations of one of the buildings were reeds. These reeds had been woven into what are called shicra bags and the bags clearly had been used to carry the stones from the mountains. It's a technique found only in the very oldest buildings in Peru. Reeds can be carbon dated. it meant that at last Ruth could find out just how old Caral was, but she lacked the facilities to do it herself and so she sought help from abroad and so last year Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer were invited to the site. What they saw stunned them.
JONATHAN HAAS: It was the most incredible assemblage in the, of archaeological sites that we had ever seen anywhere in the world. it was literally one of those double-take moments when your mouth drops open and you go my God, I've never seen anything like that in my life.
NARRATOR: They had no doubt Caral was a site of potentially huge importance. It made their dating of the shicra bags all the more crucial. They took 12 samples to the University of Illinois for testing. If the bags were from about 1400 BC Caral would certainly be an important discovery, but younger than Casma. Dates around 2000 BC would make it the oldest city in the Americas. Dates any earlier seemed inconceivable. Three months later the results arrived.
DR WINIFRED CREAMER (Northern Illinois University): I was at work and Jonathan called me and he said they are absolutely great, they're all early.
NARRATOR: The bags were dated at 2600 BC. Caral was nearly five thousand years old, as old as the pyramids of Egypt, older than anyone had thought possible.
JONATHAN HAAS: I was virtually in hysterics for three days afterwards.
NARRATOR: Caral was a thousand years older than Casma. it meant Casma could not be the mother city. it had to be Caral. It was now Caral's turn to be a sensation. The new mother city meant archaeologists could at last seek answers to their great question: why had civilisation begun?
KEN FEDER: We've eliminated some of these false starts and blind alleys. We say OK, this is the point that wherever we look in the world where civilisation develops this happens and this allows for everything else.
C.C. LAMBERG-KARLOVSKY: In the context of archaeology worldwide it is of major significance. It allows us a new, independent laboratory. We can look here for all of those common questions that we ask of every civilisation.
JONATHAN HAAS: We have here a unique opportunity, historically an unique opportunity to look at the start, to look at that transition, to, to, we have our missing link, if you will.
NARRATOR: Ruth could now show the world what a society looked like at the very dawn of civilisation. Her work revealed that at the heart of Caral was six pyramids arranged around a massive central plaza. Alongside them an amphitheatre and temple, the religious heart of Caral. it contained a furnace which Ruth believes fired a flame that was meant to burn forever. In the centre of the plaza were houses, some ornate, some simple. Dominating everything the main pyramid, seat of the city's rulers, and the symbol that the people of Caral had left behind the primitive life and discovered civilisation. This then is what modern society might have looked like at its very beginning, but why was the city here, why did civilisation start at Caral and that's when the trouble started. It began when Jonathan Haas, the world's expert on the warfare theory, paid another visit. He was searching for evidence to back it up. The first thing he thought he might find were battlements.
JONATHAN HAAS: I began walking and climbing all of the hillsides around Caral and it finally dawned on me that there weren't any fortifications round these sites.
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, Ruth and her team were searching Caral for weapons, for depictions of warfare, anything, but again there was nothing.
RUTH SHADY: We found no sign of the sort of weapons you see in later periods of history, like stone cudgels. I don't see any evidence of conflict. The city isn't walled, its inhabitants did not feel under any treat of war, there are no weapons of war.
NARRATOR: Haas was now extremely puzzled, so he widened his search. He headed to the valley's mouth through which any invaders would have had to pass.
JONATHAN HAAS: I was an approaching army that's where I'd come and that's where I should find defensive fortifications. There should be a wall going across it. They're easy places to put walls across all of these access routes.
NARRATOR: But again nothing.
JONATHAN HAAS: There should be something to slow down the enemy and in fact there's nothing. There are no fortifications round any of these sites.
NARRATOR: Jonathan Haas was now facing an uncomfortable truth. He had spent years pursuing the theory that warfare was the force that created civilisation and now it was falling apart in front of him.
JONATHAN HAAS: You seemed to really have the beginnings of that complex society and I'm able to look at it right at the start and I look for the conflict and I look for the warfare, I look for the armies and the fortifications and they're not there. They should be here and they're not and you have to change your whole mind-set about the role of warfare in these societies and so it's demolishing our warfare hypothesis. The warfare hypothesis just doesn't work.
NARRATOR: The message of Caral was clear: warfare had nothing to do with the creation of civilisation, here at least. The whole quest to find out why civilisation was formed would have to start again. The eyes of the world were now on Ruth. Everyone wanted to know what had been going on at Caral. If it wasn't warfare what was it that brought these people to build their magnificent city? What emerged was that Caral was a society that knew how to have fun. Near the main temple Ruth and her team found beautifully carved flutes made from the bones of condors.
RUTH SHADY: The flutes were the first things we found that showed people working as specialised craftsmen in Caral.
NARRATOR: But the people of Caral also enjoyed more worldly pleasures. back in the laboratory Ruth's team unearthed fragments of the fruit of something called the achiote plant. Even today, it's used by rainforest tribes as body paint and food colouring, but it has one other use: to enhance sexual performance. They also found the shells of a creature called the megabolinus snail. These were used as ornaments for necklaces and inside one of them they spotted traces of a mysterious white powder. It was lime. The team also found seeds from the coca plant at Caral and that meant drugs. The lime when mixed with the coca enhances the effects of the cocaine in the coca plant. It's a powerful stimulant.
RUTH SHADY: There are indications that they used drugs because we have found little containers in which there was some lime. We also found inhalers made out of bone.
NARRATOR: The shamans, or holy men, among certain Amazon tribes use something similar even today. The effects are dramatic. During the trance they believe they're possessed by animal spirits. Ruth believes this kind of thing could have been happening during festivals in Caral all those years ago.
RUTH SHADY: It's probable that during the very frequent religious ceremonies in Caral there would have been some hallucinatory drug present.
NARRATOR: But these finds told Ruth even more about Caral. The plant, the snail and even the flutes were a clue to the basis of the whole civilisation because they had one other very special quality. They were entirely alien to the deserts surrounding Caral. They came either from high in the Andes, or the rainforest and that was two hundred miles away. All these goods had been brought to Caral from far away, but why? The mystery deepened further. Ruth's team found that Caral didn't just import its pleasures. It also brought in the most basic commodity of all: food. It seemed the staple diet of Caral was completely bizarre for a city deep in the desert. It was fish. There were endless fish bones, mainly of sardines and anchovies. They could only have come from the Pacific coast more than 20 miles away. There was now a real puzzle. Goods of all kinds seemed to be flooding into Caral from all over Peru. Why? What was happening at Caral that drew them there? The mystery of Caral was now captivating Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer. Ever since the collapse of the warfare idea they'd roamed the valleys around Caral hunting for clues for an alternative theory. Their wanderings took them over the hills to the neighbouring valleys and it dawned on them all the valleys of Caral had one thing in common: rivers. Even today Caral is fed by rivers flowing down from the Andes to the sea. These rivers would be the key in unlocking the mystery of why civilisation first formed here at Caral because with rivers had come a huge technological advance: irrigation.
WINIFRED CREAMER: This is the simplest possible kind of irrigation system. All you needed to do was to take a hoe, or something like that, and scratch a little ditch from the river to a piece of land and you could tell that you were going at the right angle 'cos the water'd follow right in.
NARRATOR: The valleys near Caral are crisscrossed with ancient irrigation trenches and irrigation would have transformed the desert.
JONATHAN HAAS: Once I bring water off of that river to the Peruvian desert that desert blooms. Once I get water to it it just is the most productive land you could possibly hope for.
NARRATOR: Jonathan believed Caral was once a huge Garden of Eden. Here in the middle of the desert it would have been a vast oasis of fruit and vegetable fields. It would have made Caral one of the wonders of the Ancient World and irrigation led to something else, the thing that would turn out to be the crucial innovation behind the rise of civilisation at Caral. Ruth's researchers had begun to look for the kinds of vegetables the people of Caral had been eating. In amongst all the beans and nuts they found cotton seeds, lots of them. In fact cotton seemed to be everywhere.
RUTH SHADY: Practically every building contained cotton seeds or cotton fibres or textiles. We were very surprised at the beginning at the sheer amount of cotton.
NARRATOR: Some of the cotton was used for clothes, but it had another use that had nothing to do with Caral: fishing nets. This net was found at the coast not far from Caral. It's nearly 5,000 years old, as old as Caral itself. It was then that it all became clear to Ruth. Caral was engaged in trade. it made cotton nets for the fishermen who sent fish as payment.
RUTH SHADY: A trading link was established between the fishermen and the farmers. The farmers grew the cotton which the fishermen needed to make the nets and the fishermen gave them in exchange shellfish and dried fish.
NARRATOR: This was Ruth Shady's great insight. Trade in cotton led to a huge, self-sustaining system. Caral made the cotton for the nets. With the nets the fishermen could catch more food. More food meant more people could live at Caral to grow more cotton and so Caral became a booming trading centre and the trade spread. Goods have been found from as far away as Ecuador, the Andes and of course the rainforests hundreds of miles away.
RUTH SHADY: There is trade with people in the mountains, the jungle and also with the coastal people from further away. There is a trading network which is far more widespread than just the internal trade within the valleys around Caral.
NARRATOR: It seemed then that they'd found the answer to that great archaeological quest. The driving force that led to the birth of civilisation at Caral five thousand years ago was not warfare. it seemed to be trade. Ruth Shady, the archaeologist from Peru, had cracked it.
JONATHAN HAAS: It looks like exchange is what's unifying this system together and is kind of emerging as the most effective theory we have today to explain how this system developed.
NARRATOR: And amazingly this trade seems to have built a contented world. There were no battles, no fortresses. Civilisation in Peru appeared to have been born of a time of peace - or had it? Just as everything seemed to be solved, Ruth's team made a chance discovery that threatened to undermine everything. In one of the grander houses, perhaps home to one of the elite, they spotted something unusual.
RUTH SHADY: We thought we had finished work on this section. We looked at the floor and we didn't think there was anything else there, but when we came back the following day we noticed that there was a slight dip in one section of the floor of the building.
NARRATOR: At first they thought they'd found a personal object, perhaps an ornament. When they looked closer they could see it was a reed basket. It had lain under the floor of a house for nearly five thousand years. When Ruth cleaned the dust away she found something much more disturbing inside: human bones. They'd stumbled upon the body of a small child, perhaps even a baby. Suddenly it raised the frightening possibility. Perhaps the people of Caral started a tradition which was to be common in later civilisations in the Americas: human sacrifice. Perhaps Caral was not a civilisation of peace and happiness after all, perhaps it was brutal and held together not by trade, but fear. It became vital to find out how this child had died. Was it really a victim of some barbaric practice? The body was sent back to the labs for analysis and with it the objects found buried alongside. Ruth was surprised to see the baby had been placed in the foetal position before being buried and even more surprised to see the body had been carefully wrapped in several layers of fine cloth. Alongside the body were small stones. They'd been carefully polished and holes drilled through their centre. They had to be beads, perhaps of a necklace. Then they examined the bones. They were of a two month old baby and then, slowly, each bone was examined for signs of violence, but there were none. They suspected this child had died of natural causes. it had been lovingly prepared for burial. This first citizen of American civilisation was not a sacrifice, but a much loved child. Caral really had been a city of peace after all, so this is the real story of Caral. In the desert a city of pyramids arose built on riches gained peacefully through trade. It spawned a civilisation that lasted unbroken for more than four thousand years. It is a story that may yet contain the answer to archaeology's greatest question: why human beings crossed the great divide from the simple to the civilised?
RUTH SHADY: Caral was the first city with the first central government ever to be created. Caral changes all our current thinking about the origins of civilisation.
NARRATOR: Because it seems that five thousand years ago they had no need for warfare. Caral enjoyed a peace that lasted almost a millennium, an achievement unmatched in the modern world.
JONATHAN HAAS: That's a period of a thousand years of peace. I can't have a thousand years of peace if warfare's natural to human beings. Warfare's part of human nature. You don't get a millennium of no war.
NARRATOR: Perhaps that is Caral's real legacy. Human civilisation was not born in bloodshed and battle. Warfare was a later part of the human story. Great things can come from peace.
India’s Cultural Link with Ancient America
Right from the period of first Spanish historian Mr. Fray Shahaun (1515 AD) till today a number of scholars have worked over the life of native Americans and some of them came to the conclusion that in ancient times people from India and the Indian archipelago migrated to America and developed a great civilization there. In his book ‘A Compact History of Mexico’ Mr. Ignacio Bernall states that people from Asia entered America some thirty-five thousand years before, whereas Mr. Arcio Nuns, a Brazilian nuclear scientist, mentions about the Dravidians of Asia with America as old as eleven thousand years.
An article published in the ‘Hindu’ of 27th Sept. 1985 about the discovery made by Dr. Harry Fell, renowned epigraphist of USA goes to suggest that the early merchant settlers of South-East Asia had sailed to far off lands in pursuit of their profession, whose presence in Mexico is available in the form of inscriptions. Dr. Fell has deciphered the Indic inscription from Tihosuco which reads that merchant Vusaluna, the captain of the ship, sailing along the coast line, had got the inscription engraved on the stone slab in the month of July of the year 845. It is assumed that year mentioned is of Saka era.
Worship – The archaeologists found many Hindu deities like Shiva, Shiva linga, Ganesh, Kali, Sun, Buddha etc. (in similar or slightly different forms) which were worshiped in ancient America. The Hindu God of luck, Ganesh, was worshiped in Central-South America. Images of Ganesh have been excavated in plenty in Mexico. This god with the elephant’s trunk is frequently depicted in Mexican manuscripts and in the temple ruins in Central America as the god with a proboscis-like horn, whence water is squirting and his head is most frequently portrayed on the corners of temple walls, which are always built with reference to the original points. And image of ‘Ekadant Ganesh’ was noticed in the temple at Kopan by great Indologist late Dr. W.S. Wakankar.
An image of Hanuman called by the name ‘Wilka Huemana’ and measuring 50 feet in height and 12 feet in breadth was found in Guatemala. Similar one was found during an excavation of an Aztec temple in Mexico City and was known as ‘Euhectal’, a wind God, a monkey God.
Buddhism also had a vast influence on pre-Colombian America. Professor F.W. Putnam found in the jungles of Honduras a sculpture which greatly resembles Buddha. According to the July, 1901 issue of American Harper’s Magazine, it has been proved with evidence that five Buddhist monks had reached Mexico in ancient times, via Alaska.
Ceremonies, Beliefs and Customs:
Hindu culture, civilization, custom and belief also dominated ancient America to some extent. Ancient Americans believed in legendary cataclysm, rebirth, four yugas and the concept of two planets like Rahu and Ketu causing solar eclipse. The Hindu doctrine of the ages is preserved in a stone monolith popularly known as the Aztec calendar. This remarkable piece of stone carving is in the form of an immense disc 12 feet in diameter and weights over 20 tons. A festival called Sita-Ram (Situa-Raimi) was celebrated in Mexico during Nav-Ratri or Dussehra period which has been described on page 5867 in the book ‘Hamsworth History of the World’. Both in Central and South America, there are found Sati cremation, priesthood, gurukul system, yajna, birth, marriage and death ceremonies to some extent similar to the Hindus.
The ancient American’s dresses (male and female) were simple and similar to those of Hindu dresses. Mexican face types were found to be similar to those of Assam, Naga, Nepal and Haryana people. Even their reddish brown skin complexion bears distinct similarity with those of Nepalis and Nagas. If an Indian is shown a Maya lady of Yucatan province from Mexico, he will recognize her as a Jat Lady of Haryana. Ayar Inoa King used to wear a turban, earring and a trishul type trident in his hand.
Today native Indians of America live in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico who number only few lacs (lac = 100,000). These tribes are still vegetarians. Similarly, only two lacs natives are survived in Canada who are still called as ‘Indians’. Their lifestyle, customs, and beliefs are similar to Bharatiya people.
Goldsmiths from Peru and Mexico prevailed working style similar to Indian traditional goldsmiths. Mr. Michael Long of the National Geographic Society was surprised to see the back strap weaving method in handloom at Santa Rosa of Peru. This is used to separate thread. It is very well known that cotton is a gift given by Indians to the whole world.
Professor Raman Mena, curator of the National Museum of Mexico, said that the general appearance of Maya’s writing is considered of oriental origin. According to scholar Orozco V. Berra, Maya and other languages are of Sanskrit origin. A few Sanskrit and Quichua words are given here to show their similarity and origin.
A hina (also) ena (also) Killa (moon) Kil (shining) Illapi (chant) lap (to speak) Paksa (fortnight) Paksha (fortnight)
The word ‘Wara’, a unit of measurement, was also used by Maya people. They used to call Antyas as Antis. Professor Hug Fox of Michigan State University found a strange mix of Tamil and local American languages in use some millennia ago. For example, shasta, Indiana, Arevada, Utah, Guyana etc. Mr. Arcio Nuns from the Federal University of Brazil found evidence of our Gorani language in the form of Bruhi language during his long research work conducted in South America. ‘Gorani’ language was practiced thousands of years before in Tamilnadu as per Arcio Nuns. This language is still used in the Adi-Chandlur tribal area of Tamilnadu and shows similarity to the Bruhi language being practiced in South America.
It is also believed that Quichua’s (language of Peruvians) characteristic of mouth transmission is derived from Indians. Writing mathematical figures by using vertical and horizontal straight lines was a system commonly practiced by Indians and Mayas.
Southern and Central American excavations revealed ancient cities, forts, bridges, tanks, canals, houses and pyramids which indicated the high state of civilization and what is found that some sculptures of those archaeological remnants are similar in form and design to that found in Indian sculptural monuments. ‘Supporting the buildings over the arms of Yaksha’ is an Indian art. Similar types of construction was found in ancient Mexico. Similarly, sculptures of human figures with headgear similar to Tamils, sculptures of Indian style ornamentation of elephants were found in Kopan (Honduras) and Palenque. Thousands of ancient baked-clay bricks were found in Comalcalco in Mexico over which Pali scripts were engraved and these were used in the construction of pyramid temples which were similar to the pyramid temple in the Chidambaram village situated on the Coromandel coast in Southern India. In an article written by scholar Ronald Shiller named ‘Unsolved Mysteries of the Incas’ (published in Reader’s Digest of August 1982) he claims to have seen the imprints of South-East Asian culture over the sculptures found in Peru dating to the second century BC.
I hope my findings will help the scholars to study the influence of Indian culture over the Meso-American culture, so as to bring before the world the universality of great Vedic culture in the past.
Vedic Roots of Ancient America
Baffling Links to Ancient India:
History is full of misnomers one such term is the New World, as applied to the Americas. The landing of Columbus in 1492 undoubtedly created a new life on the continents, but it neither created nor discovered a new world. Many centuries ago Asian migrants had come to the western shore in substantial numbers. What if the popular idea that Tibetans and American Indians have much in common in terms of their spiritual culture is largely a result of another historical scenario?
What if Hindus and Hopis, Advaitins and Aztecs, Tibetan Monks and Mayans were part of one world culture – a spiritual one?
Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), an eminent European scholar and anthropologist, was one of the first to postulate the Asiatic origin of the Indian civilizations of the Americas. Swami B.V. Tripurari asks, ” What mysterious psychological law would have caused Asians and Americans to both use the umbrella as a sign of royalty, to invent the same games, imagine similar cosmologies and attribute the same colors to the different directions?”
The first Maya Empire had been founded in Guatemala at about the beginning of the Christian era. Before the fall of Rome the Mayas were charting accurately the synodical revolutions of Venus and whilst Europe was still lingering in the Dark Ages the Maya civilization had reached a peak of greatness.
It is significant that the zenith of Maya civilization was reached at a time when India had also attained an unparalleled cultural peak during the Gupta period. Indian cultural intercourse with Southeast Asia, the Gupta period, had begun more than a century before the Mayan classical age in 320 and Buddhism and Hinduism had been well known in neighboring countries for centuries. If there was contact between Mayan America and Indianized Southeast Asia, the simultaneous cultural advance would not appear surprising. In marked contrast, this was the darkest period in Europe’s history between the sack of Rome and the rise of Charlemagne.
The most important development of the ancient American or Asiomerican culture took place in the south of the United States, in Mexico, in central America and in Peru. The early history of Asiomericans is shrouded in mystery and controversy due to the absence of definitive documentary evidence, which was destroyed by the European conquerors in their misguided religious zeal.
However, it appears that after the discovery of introduction of maize into Mexico, Asiomericans no longer had to wander about in search of food. Men in America, as in other parts of the world, settled down to cultivate food and culture, a by-product of agricultural life, inevitably followed.
Of the Asiomerican civilizations, the best known are the Maya, the Toltec, the Aztec, and the Inca. The Mayas were possibly the earliest people to found a civilization there they moved from the Mexican plateau into Guatemala. They were later pushed out, presumably by the Toltecs, who, in turn were dislodged by the Aztecs.
Baron Alexander Von Humboldt, whilst visiting Mexico, found similarities between Asian and Mexican astrology. He founded systematic study of ancient American cultures and was convinced of the Asian origin of the American-Indian high civilization. He said:
“If languages supply but feeble evidence of ancient communication between the two worlds, their communication is fully proved by the cosmogonies, the monuments, the hieroglyphical characters and the institutions of the people of America and Asia.”
In 1866, the French architect, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, also noted striking resemblances between ancient Mexican structures and those of South India.
Scholars were also greatly impressed by the similarity between the Hindu Trinity – Brahma-Visnu-Shiva and the Mexican Trinity Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc as well as the likeness between Indian temples and American pyramids. The parallels between the Hindu Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trinity and the Mexican Ho-Huitzilopochtli-Tlaloc Trinity and the resemblances between the attributes of certain Hindu deities and those of the Mayan pantheon are impressive. Discussing the diffusion of Indian religions to Mexico, a recent scholar Paul Kirchhoff has even suggested that it is not simply a question of miscellaneous influences wandering from one country to the other, but that China, India, Java and Mexico actually share a common system.”
Kirchhoff has sought “to demonstrate that a calendaric classification of 28 Hindu gods and their animals into twelve groups, subdivided into four blocks, within each of which we find a sequence of gods and animals representing Creation, Destruction and Renovation, and which can be shown to have existed both in India and Java, must have been carried from the Old World to the New, since in Mexico we find calendaric lists of gods and animals that follow each other without interruption in the same order and with attributes and functions or meanings strikingly similar to those of the 12 Indian and Javanese groups of gods, showing the same four subdivisions.”
E. B. Taylor also found the counterparts of the tortoise myth of India in ancient America.
Donald A. Mackenzie and other scholars, however, are of definite opinion that the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians were familiar with Indian mythology and cite in support close parallels in details. For instance, the history of the Mayan elephant symbol cannot be traced in the local tradition, whereas it was a prominent religious symbol in India. The African elephant has larger ears. It is the profile of the Indian elephant, its tusk and lower lip, the form of its ear, as well as its turbaned rider with his ankus, which is found in Meso-American models. Whilst the African elephant was of little religious significance, it had been tamed in India and associated with religious practices since the early days.
The Mexican doctrine of the World’s Ages – the universe was destroyed four consecutive times – is reminiscent of the Indian Yugas. Even the reputed colors of these mythical four ages, white, yellow, red and black are identical with and in the same order as one of the two versions of the Indian Yugas. In both myths the duration of the First Age is exactly the same, 4,800 divine years. The Mexican Trinity is associated with this doctrine as in the Hindu Trinity with the Yugas in India.
Later, two English scholars Channing Arnold and Frederick J. Tabor Frost, in their The American Egypt, made a detailed examination of the transpacific contacts, reinforcing the view of Buddhist influences on Central America. The most recent and by far the most systematic well-reasoned, and effective case has been advanced by the eminent archaeologist, R. Heine-Geldern and Gordon Ekholm, who favor Indian and Southeast Asian cultural influences on ancient America through migration across the Pacific.
According to the Mayan calendar, which is extant, the time record of the Mayas began on 6 August 613 B.C. It is an exact date based upon intricated astronomical calculations and prolonged observations. To work out this kind of elaborate calendar must have taken well over two thousand years of studying stars and the Asiomericans must have been remarkably shrewd observers.
The Mayas of Yucatan were the first people besides the Indians to use a zero sign and represent number values by the position of basic symbols. The similarity between the Indian zero and the Mayan zero is indeed striking. So far as the logical principle is concerned, the two are identical, but the expressions of the principle are dissimilar. Again, whilst the Indian system of notation was decimal, as was the European, the Mayan was vigesimal. Consequently, their 100 stood for 400, 1000 stood for 8000, 1234 for 8864. While the place of zero in the respective systems of the Indians and Mayans is different, the underlying principle and method are the same and the common origin of the Mayan and Indian zeros appears to be undoubted.
Disputes continue amongst scholars in the absence of conclusive evidence. As chronological evidence stands today, the Mayan zero appears to be anterior by several centuries to its Hindu counterpart.
In 1949, two scholars, Gordon Ekholm and Chaman Lal, systematically compared the Mayan, Aztec, Incan, and the North American Indian civilizations with the Hindu-oriented countries of Southeast Asia and with India herself. According to them the emigrant cultures of India took with them India’s system of time measurement, local gods and customs. Ekholm and Lal found signs of Aryan civilization throughout the Americas in art (lotus flowers with knotted stems and half dragon/half fish motifs found commonly in paintings and carvings), architecture, calendars, astronomy, religious symbols and even games such as our Parchessi and Mexican Patilli, which have their origins in India’s pachisi.
Both the Hindus and Americans used similar items in their worship rituals. They both maintained the concept of four Yuga cycles, or cosmological seasons, extending over thousands of years, and conceived of twelve constellations with reference to the sun as indicated by the Incan sun calendar. Royal insignias, systems of government and practice of religious dance and temple worship all showed remarkable similarities, pointing strongly to the idea that the Americas were strongly influenced by the Aryans. The theory is found in the Vedic literature of India. The ancient Puranas (literally “histories”) and the Mahabharata make mention of the Americas as lands rich with gold and silver. Argentina, which means “related to silver”, is thought to have been named after Arjuna (of silver hue).
Another scholar, Ramon Mena, author of Mexican Archaelogy, called the Nahuatl, Zapoteca, and Mayan languages “of Hindu origin.” He went to say, “A deep mystery enfolds the tribes that inhabited the state of Chiapas in the district named Palenque… their writing, and the anthropological type, as well as their personal adornments… their system and style of construction clearly indicate the remotest antiquity… (they) all speak of India and the Orient.”
Still another scholar, Ambassador Miles Poindexter, a former ambassador of the United States to Mexico, in his two-volume 1930s treatise The Arya-Incas, called the Mayan civilization “unquestionably Hindu.” He proposed that primitive Aryan words and people came to America by the island chains of Polynesia. The Mexican name for boat is a South Indian Tamil word, Catamaran, and Poindexter gives a long list of words of the Quichua languages and their analogous forms in Sanskrit. Similarities between the hymns of the Inca rulers of Peru and Vedic hymns have been pointed out. A. L. Krober has also found striking similarities between the structure of Indo-European and the Penutian language of some of the tribes along the northwestern coast of California. Recently, an Indian scholar, B. C. Chhabra, in his “Vestiges of Indian Culture in Hawaii”, has noticed certain resemblances between the symbols found in the petroglyphs from the Hawaiian Islands and those on the Harappan seals. Some of the symbols in the petroglyphs are described as akin to early Brahmi script.
Indeed, the parallels between the arts and culture of India and those of ancient America are too numerous and close to be attributed to independent growth. A variety of art forms are common to Mexico, India, Java, and Indochina, the most striking of which are the Teocallis, the pyramids with receding stages, faced with cut stone, and with stairways leading to a stone sanctuary on top. Many share surprisingly common features such as serpent columns and banisters, vaulted galleries and corbeled arches, attached columns, stone cut-out lattices and Atlantean figures these are typical of the Puuc style of Yucatan. Heine-Geldern and Ekholm point out that temple pyramids in Cambodia did not become important until the ninth and tenth centuries, a time coinciding with the beginning of the Puuc period.
The fact that a highly civilized race inhabited America long before the modern civilization of Europe made its appearance there, is quite clear from the striking remains of ancient and his refinement existing in the country. Extensive remains of cities which must have been once in a most flourishing condition, of strong and well-built fortresses, as well as the ruins of very ancient and magnificent buildings, roads, tanks and canals that meet the eye over a very wide area of the southern continent of America, irresistibly force us to the conclusion that the country must have been inhabited at one time by a very highly civilized nation. But whence did this civilization spring?
The researches of European antiquarians trace it to India. Mr. Coleman says: “Baron Humboldt, the great German traveler and scientist, describes the existence of Hindu remains still found in America.”
Speaking of the social usages of the inhabitants of Peru, Mr. Pococke says: “The Peruvians and their ancestors, the Indians, are in this point of view at once seen to be the same people.” The architecture of ancient America resembles the Hindu style of architecture. Mr. Hardy says: “The ancient edifices of Chichen in Central America bear a striking resemblance to the tops of India.” Mr. Squire also says: “The Buddhist temples of Southern India and of the islands of the Indian archipelago, as described to us by the learned members of the Asiatic Society and the numerous writers on the religion and antiquities of the Hindus, correspond with great exactness in all their essential and in many of their minor features with those of Central America.” Dr. Zerfii remarks: “We find the remarkable temples, fortresses and viaducts, aqueducts of the Aryan group.”
A still more significant fact proves the Hindu origin of the civilization of ancient America. The mythology of ancient America furnishes sufficient grounds for the inference that it was a child of Hindu mythology. The following facts will elucidate the matter:
Americans worshiped Mother Earth as a mythological deity, as the Hindus still do – Dhatri mata and Prithvi mata are well known as familiar phrases in Hindustan.
Footprints of heroes and deities on rocks and hills were worshiped by the Americans as devoutly as they are done in India even at the present day. Mexicans are said to have worshiped the footprints of Quetzal Coatl and the Indians worship the footprints of Buddha in Ceylon and of Krishna in Gokula near Mathura.
The Solar and Lunar eclipses were looked upon in ancient America in the same light as in modern India. The Hindus beat drums and make noises by beating tin pots and other things. The Americans, too, raise a frightful howl and sound musical instruments. The Carecles (Americans) think that the demon Maleoyo, the hater of light, swallows the moon and sun in the same way as the Hindus think that the demons Rahu and Ketu devour the sun and the moon.
The priests were represented in America with serpents round their heads, as Siva, Kali and others are represented by the Hindus.
Native Indian stories and traces of Vedic civilization
Notes by JanM, November 2000
General Vedic traces:
- universe originally dark and empty except for water,
then a god creates earth, sun, stars, animals and people
- earth and sky originally as one, later separated
[cf. Dyaus & Prthvi]
- in the beginning there is often no sun, moon, stars or water sometimes they are held captured by some envious beings. They must be tricked, usually by the Raven
[cf. Rg Veda story of Indra fighting Vrtra demon]
- natural phenomena have personal forms
(e.g. Lightning and Thunder man)
- devas on higher planets, personifying the planets, sometimes relating to humans, teaching them
- existence of underworld [cf. Bila-svarga], human origin there according to Apache lore
- shapeshifting of men and animals
- animals originally man-like (talking etc.), later they changed into their present forms
- flood of the world as G/god’s punishment for evil behavior of people, few good people saved by warning, being instructed to build a kind of makeshift watercraft or to escape on mountains or other safe places, they also took onboard various animals and plants and later became ancestors of present humans
BearAndIndianWife: (Haida, British Columbia)
bears previously people-like [cf. rkshas – ape/bears, yetti], crossbreeding possible
BirdSerpent: (Powhatan, Virginia)
birds as visible spirits of the deceased [cf. Pitas fed through pinda offerings left on the ground for birds]
BlessingWay: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
chants and rituals revealed by higher beings, the mantra is a holy being satisfying devas
BuffaloWife: (Blackfoot, Alberta and Montana)
revival of a man from a bone (cloning?)
ChangingWoman: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
children of devas grow up within a few days, deva is a planet’s inner form [cf. Surya etc.]
CloudCatcher: (Ojibwa, Great Lakes)
devas eat sacrificed animals, time scale difference between the heaven and earth
Creation: (Tlingit, southern Alaska coast)
flood of the world, Raven in the role of savior, giant animals on earth (dinosaurs?), darkness in the beginning
DanceDead: (Luiseno, southern California)
dead people turned into birds [cf. sraddha offering to birds reincarnation mentioned]
EarthMaking: (Cherokee, Great Lakes, eastern Tennessee)
flat earth, as an island on water, animals originally living on higher planets (see also SolitudeWalker)
Emergence: (Jicarilla Apache, northeastern New Mexico)
darkness and winds at the beginning earth – mother, sky – father underworld origin of people
EveningStar: (Karasha, South America)
a deva taught people to grow crops
FirstManFirstWoman: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
magic number 4
FishMonster: (Menomini, Wisconsin-Michigan)
biblical Job & leviathan analogy
Flood: (Zuni, southwestern U.S.)
sins punished by the flood
FloodOnSuperstitionMountain: (Pima, southwestern Arizona)
sinful people killed by flood, only a virtuous shaman and his wife survived in an “ark”
GirlMarriedDog: (Cheyenne, Minnesota)
sexual relations between humans and Pleiadeans
GreatFlood: (Salish/Cowichan, Pacific Northwest)
flood of the world
GreatSerpent&Flood: (Chippewa, Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin)
flood, people saved on a raft
GustOfWind: (Ojibwa, Great Lakes)
earth as a woman [cf. Bhumi] (see also MotherOfAllPeople), crossbreeding of devas and humans
HowCornCameToEarth: (Kansas state?)
in old times there were giants on earth, they stopped smoke sacrifice so God killed them by flood people were told to hide in a large cave with all the animals, the cave was sealed from the floodwater, the people were lead out by a devi, taught various skills and wisdom and populated the earth
HowHopisReachedTheirWorld: (Hopi, southwestern U.S.)
underworld [cf. Bila-svarga] origin of people, degradation of dharma makes things go worse (first appearance of death, plant cultivation progressively more difficult)
IntheBeginning: (Yuchi, southeastern U.S.)
lower, middle and upper world [cf. Bila-svarga, Bhur-loka, Svarga-loka], extraordinary people and animals from the upper world visited the middle world but later returned home where they lived more comfortably
InvisibleOne: (Micmac, eastern Maritime Canada)
time on death planet [cf. Yamaloka] moves slowlier than on earth (one day as one year)
Manabush: (Menomini, Wisconsin-Michigan)
a deva took a human wife and became a mediator between devas and humans
devas’ children grow very fast
MarriedRattlesnake: (Pomo, north central California)
crossbreed between humans and snakes
MedicineMan: (Passamaquoddy, northwestern U.S.)
who desires to live very long will become a tree [reincarnation mentioned]
MenVisitSky: (Seminole, Florida)
earth has an edge (see also SolitudeWalker)
MeteorLegends: (Ojibwa, Great Lakes)
Native Americans lived together with giant animals (dinos?)
who were destroyed by a comet
MicMacCreation: (Micmac, eastern Maritime Canada)
sacrificed animals brought back to life by the Great Spirit
MonsterSlayer: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
a deva keeping his heart, nerves, breath and blood in different places outside of his body [cf. Mahiravana, brother of Ravana]
sun is a being like ourselves
MorningStar: (Great Plains)
humans joining devas in marriage in heaven, planets as persons
Nisqually: (Nisqually, Puget Sound, Washington)
sinful people punished by the flood, a deva determined the women to be subservient to men, Pandora’s box analogy
NorthStar: (Paiute, southwestern U.S.)
high central mountain in the universe [cf. Sumeru]
OldWomanSpring: (Cheyenne, Minnesota)
parallel dimension behind the waterfall as the original place of buffalo and corn
Opossum: (Cherokee, Great Lakes, eastern Tennessee)
previously the deer had sharp teeth [cf. ferocious deer of Ramayana]
OriginAnimals: (Apache, southwestern U.S.)
Apache origins in underworld [cf. Bila-svarga]
OriginOfCuring: (White Mountain Apache, southwestern U.S.)
healing songs [cf. mantras] revealed to people by the Creator
OriginOfSweatLodge: (Blackfeet/Piegan, Montana)
a man taken to higher planets to learn
ReleaseOfAnimals: (Comanche, southwestern U.S.)
buffalo were kept from the people by an evil being [cf. demon Vrtra of Rg Veda keeping heavenly cows in a cave], they were released by Coyote’s trick (see also EmpoundedWater)
ScabbyOne: (Toltec, Mexico)
world destroyed because of people’s sins (karma)
SeekYourFather: (Seneca, northwestern U.S.)
Sun living on a high mountain [cf. Sumeru] in the east
Shonto: (Anasazi-Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
punishment for adharma by the devas
SnakeBrothers: (Sioux/Dakota, South Dakota)
men turned into snakes, living underground, friendly relationship with people
SpiritLand: (general info)
astral travel of shamans, exorcism
SunMoonStars: (Navajo/Dine, southwestern U.S.)
people originating from the lower world [cf. Bila-svarga] sun – male, moon – female Milky Way as the path for the spirits between earth and heaven [cf. devayana] (see also OwlHusband, StoneMother)
TheFaster: (Winnebago, Wisconsin-Michigan)
the devas and spirits can’t grant immortality (see also HuntingMedicine)
TheftOfLight: (Tsimshian, British Columbia)
analogy of Garuda stealing nectar from heaven and Prometheus stealing fire
ThunderBird: (northwestern Coast)
thunderbird analogous to Garuda
analogies of Jupiter/Indra
TotemAnimals: (general info)
totem animals in both Siberia and North America
TwinsAlterBook: (Winnebago, Wisconsin-Michigan)
a deva in charge of dead keeps a book of life [cf. Yama/Citragupta]
TwoGhostlyLovers: (Dakota, South Dakota)
a violent death indicates a man will turn into ghost [cf. Garuda Purana, Preta-khanda]
TwoJeebiUg: (Chippewa, Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin)
WellBakedMan: (Pima, southwest Arizona)
Creator made humans according to his own form, breathing life into their bodies [cf. prana]
WhiteBuffalo: (Lakota, Great Plains)
a devi teaches a prayer
WhiteBuffaloWoman: (Lakota, Dakota, Great Plains)
a sacred buffalo [cf. Dharma bull] losing a leg in each age [cf. yuga], when he loses all four the Earth will be inundated
WhiteDeer: (Chickasaw, middlewestern U.S.)
a ferocious deer [cf. deer of Ramayana]
WhoIsStrongest: (Zuni, southwestern U.S.)
similar to a Vedic story
stars are living beings, world has an edge, planet Jupiter wards off an evil
WomanFell: (Seneca, northwestern U.S.)
people came from the higher planets original water in the universe [cf. Garbhodaka], Earth is made from the soil of its bottom animals were originally bigger and later made small
FloodStories: in old times an old man came to Muysca tribe (Colombia)
and taught them agriculture, crafts, religion, and government [cf. dharmas of the four varnas]
tribe legend analogous to Arjuna & Ulupi story
Hopis and chakras: Frank Waters. Book of the Hopi, The Viking Press 1963, p.9-10, 26-27
On preservation of stories:
“In ages past, our old ones were the storytellers. This was the way things were passed along to the generations that followed. For this reason the aged people made it a point to remember every detail so they could relate it at a later time. They were the word and picture carriers making history and spirtual values alive and important. In recent times we have made our old ones think they are not so important. We spoof their stories and make them feel foolish. The truth is that we are ignorant of what is precious and how to ‘a da li he li tse di — appreciate age. Rigidity can creep in and set even the young mind if there are no soft memories, no laughter, no times too deep for tears. Age is grace — a time too valuable to waste.” (A Cherokee Feast of Days – Daily Meditations, Joyce Sequichie Hifler)
It might surprise you that Voodoo is not about casting spells and sticking pins into dolls. You might find it even more surprising that Voodoo is a legitimate religion that is, in many ways, very similar to Vedic religion. In order to promote greater understanding and respect, I have decided to show some similarities as well as differences between Voodoo and Vedic religion.
First, let us start with where Voodoo came from: During the sixteenth century, slave traders began taking people from the West Coast of Africa (also known as the Slave Coast), the area comprising Benin (formerly Dahomey) and Togo, and selling them to French owned plantations in the Caribbean. The French Catholics tried to forcibly convert the slaves to Catholicism. What instead happened was an integration of the Yoruba and Fon traditions of Africa with Catholicism, thus creating Vodou. The later movement of these slaves also brought Vodou to New Orleans and the Carolina coast.
The word Vodou means “Spirit” or “Deity” in the Fon language of Dahomey. Like Vedic religion, Vodou is monotheistic. They believe in one God, called Bondye (from French Bon Dieu, “Good God”) who is unfathomable. In Vedic religion, guru provides a link between God and man. In Vodou, that link is accomplished by spirits very similar to the demigods: the loa (also spelled lwa). It is also accomplished by the Mambo (priestess) or Houngan (priest).
There is no difference between Houngans and Mambos other than gender. They are equals in respect and power. But, they complete the link between man and God by helping us connect to the loa. In many ways, the Houngan and Mambo are like our spiritual parents. They provide spiritual guidance, emotional support, and they even provide herbs when we are ill. Whereas any person can pray to the loa and feel them in their lives, the mambo or houngan has the ability to bridge the gap between our plane of existence and theirs and actually call them into our realm of experience.
As far as the loa themselves, who are they? They are archetypical and ancestral spirits, bridging the gap between man and God. Their similarity to the demigods is surprising. For instance, the loa Ghede corresponds to Yama and the loa Papa Legba corresponds to Ganesh.
In Vodou they realize that the demigods are below God and so they serve God _through_them.
A major theme in Vodou is service, just like in Vedic religion. As Sallie Ann Glassman (my old Mambo and author of Vodou Visions, a book where you can find this information on Vodou as well as a lot more) says, “The core focus of a Vodou Sosyete (society or congregation) is on service. Be true to yourself and make your life the most beautiful offering that you can give. Service to the Lwa is service to the community. Service to the community is service to the Lwa.”
The lwa are honored in much the same way as Krishna and the demigods. They are offered incense, water, food (they even have favorite foods), etc. A difference is that the loa are also offered liquor and cigarettes or cigars (which signifies lower gunas of the worshiper). But the idea is the same. The offering is made, the loa accept the offering, and then the now sacred food can be consumed by the congregation (as prasadam).
In Vodou, respect and honor are paramount. It is not some empty respect for a God that you cannot see, but it is respect for all life. Each individual is a creation of God and is thus sacred. Every item, when used in the service of the Lwa, becomes sacred. Whereas many people go to a church which they consider holy ground, Vodou makes the ground they live on holy. Vodou makes the things of your everyday life sacred. Vodou makes the here and now an act of worship, and not just the “there and on Sunday”.
Like in the Vaisnava tradition, song and dance is an integral part of the Vodou ceremony. When you dance in Vodou, you offer your energy and body to the lwa. You feel the drumbeat pulse through you like the heartbeat of the loa and you immerse yourself in their caress. The trappings of everyday life bleed from you and you become spirit, dancing in honor and ecstasy. You commune with the lwa.
No article on Vodou would be complete without also touching on three often misunderstood subjects: magic, possession, and sacrifice:
In Vodou, like in the Vedas, animal sacrifice is a reality. But also, like the Vedas, Judaism, etc., animal sacrifice is done with a sense of compassion and respect. The idea is not to torture or harm the poor animal, but instead to offer it up to the lwa, life and body. Afterwards, the animal is cooked and eaten by the congregation. This is not a barbaric rite, but one that affirms life. Whereas in the West we eat meat that comes wrapped in plastic and anonymous, these animals are cared for, respected, and eventually offered to the lwa. All life is sacred. Their gift does not go unnoticed.
There is often a difference in Vodou in the United States and Vodou in Haiti in that regard. In Haiti it is believed that without the life force the lwa cannot manifest in our realm of experience. It is also worth noting that the Haitians don’t enjoy the luxury of buying anonymous animals wrapped in plastic. They have to kill their own animals. So, it can be argued, if they have to kill their own food, why should they not be able to kill the food for the loa?
That brings up another issue: How do the loa “manifest” in our realm of experience? Some people see them in their dreams or visions but the primary way of manifestation is that of possession. In the West, when you mention possession immediately you think of a setting something like that from the movie Exorcist. The thought of losing control over our own bodies terrifies us. In the context of Vodou, however, possession is a beautiful thing.
When someone is possessed by a lwa in Vodou, the lwa essentially borrows that body for a time. Then they can interact with the congregation directly. This is an amazing experience, being able to talk, dance, and laugh with a being that is, for all intents and purposes, identical to the demigods. For the person who is possessed, they do not remember the incident. They have given the ultimate sacrifice: their own body for the good of the congregation even though they weren’t around to enjoy! However, they’re later told what has happened and can take comfort in knowing that _they_ were inhabited by the lwa… and they are transformed by the knowledge that they themselves were chosen by the lwa and shared their bodies with such a powerful and beautiful spirit.
As far as the value to the people around a possessed person… they actually get more value than the possessed person. The loa acts through that body. They will talk… eat the offerings… dance… It’s like having them there as a flesh and blood person. The person possessed won’t remember this… but the people in the congregation will actually get to spend time _with_ the loa… in a very real sense.
The last thing I want to touch on is the issue of magic. For those familiar with Vedic traditions it comes as no surprise that other religions acknowledge magic to be possible. However, in the context of Vodou, there is a difference between a sorcerer (bokor, “one who offers with a left hand”, which suggest a left-hand tantra connection) and the priest or priestess. The priest and priestess deal with spiritual transformation and the bokor deals with magic. Magic is temporary whereas spiritual transformation follows you for all your life.
It is not simply a case of good and evil, because the bokor can do spells for good _or_ bad. But, like Gandhi said, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” Anything the bokor does is necessarily temporary because it works on the material plane, which is in a constant state of change. However, when we enact real spiritual change with the help of the Mambo or Houngan and the loa, that change follows us all the days of our lives. I would like to end this article with a quote from Gandhi as well: “The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.
Links Between Ancient India and Mayans
From the Deccan Chronicle
HYDERABAD, INDIA, April 29, 2002: Recent studies suggest a link between Indus Valley and Mayans of Central America. The studies focused on the calendars of the two advanced civilizations. The Indus Valley inhabitants followed a calendar based on the movements of Jupiter and the Mayans followed one based on the Venus. In the Puranas, a secondary Hindu scripture, Jupiter, Brihaspati, was acknowledged to be the leader of the gods, while Venus, Shukra, was the leader of the asuras. The texts further state that the devas and asuras lived on opposite sides of the Earth. Mexico and India are at opposite sides in longitude. The correspondences were pointed out by B. G. Siddarth, director of the B. M. Birla Science Centre in Hyderabad. He also said the Hindu story of the churning of the ocean has been found in carvings in Mexico, as well Mayan representations of a tortoise carrying twelve pillars similar to Indian illustrations. Dr. Ganapati Sthapati of Chennai, a foremost expert on Vastu Shastra, the ancient Hindu architecture, has visited the Mayan structures in Central America and found many similarities between the design and construction methods of the Mayans and that of the ancient Hindus.
More: Were the Mayas’ Pyramids Built By the Vedic Architect Maya?
Ancient Heritage of Tamils
Have we not evidence that the ancient Cholas discovered South America long before Columbus and that the Inca Sun Worshipers of Peru are none but the descendants of “our Chola ancestors” (vide Neelakanta Sastri “History of S. India” and M. Monohan’s “Chola’s in America 1976”, p. 11-20). The Incas had their Temple of the Sun God (Peru) much like the one in Konark in Orissa built by the Cholas. The Chola chieftains (Incas) of America styled themselves as “Raghuvamsa Manickam”. This shows that they belonged to the Raghuvamsa of Sri Rama whose ancestor Sibi Chakravarti is well described in ancient Tamil literature as the Chola king Sembian. This takes us to a very relevant inference that the ancestors of Dasaratha are as much the ancestors of the Tamils. One other ancestor of Sri Rama, Musu Kunthan, is none other than the Musu Kuntha Chola in ancient Tamil history. This Musu Kunthan’s reign was during the second Tamil Sangam age 4800-2800 BC.
Vedic Culture in Peru
In 1994 I saw a newspaper article that showed a photograph of a “huaco” (ancient pot usually made of clay, from the Inca culture or older). The sign that appeared on this “huaco” was a big svastika with four dots inside. This is a Vedic sign that you can see on the top of the gates of ancient temples. (Of course, the archeologists did not know what that symbol meant and maybe they still don’t know it).
Also a devotee-scholar told me that he had seen another “huaco” that he described in this way: A monkey supposingly running or flying, holding a small mountain in one hand and a club in the other. The monkey had some kind of helmet. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Jaya Sri Hanumanji!
I’ve heard that some stories from Ramayana tell that Sri Ramacandra came to the American continent when he was fighting with Ravana & Kumbhakarna. This is very interesting point. When you go to Bolivia and to the south of Peru, you can see a very famous festival called “La Diablada” (“Demoniac Dance”). This festival depicts a very ancient story: two angel-like warriors fight against a ten-headed demon. This demon has a army and the angelical warriors are being helped by animal armies, especially by a society of well organized monkeys. Jaya Sri Ramayana!
I have also heard that the word “Dinka” means “Children of the Sun” or “Worshipers of the Sun” in Sanskrit or some other Indian language. The word “Inka” in Quechua (language spoken by the Inca culture) means “Children of the Sun”. And worshiping the Sun gives the worshiper intelligence and gold, a very notorious feature of the Inca empire. Their society was very similar to varnasrama.
American Indian Karna
There are many similarities between Vedic culture and the American Indian traditions. In the Pueblo (Indians of the SW USA) traditions there is an amazing tale which parallels the story of Karna from the Mahabharata. There are some variations but the similarities are striking. Here is the story as retold by Gerald McDermott. He published it in a children story book form and thus many of the details have been simplified. More research will surely find the parallels an even better match.
“Long ago the Sun God sent the spark of life to Earth. It traveled down the rays of the sun, through the heavens, and it came to the Pueblo. There it entered the house of a Young Maiden. In due course, the Boy came into the world of men. He lived and grew and played in the Pueblo (village).
However the other boys would not let him join in their games. “Where is your father?” they asked. “You have no father!” they mocked him and chased him away. The Boy and his Mother were sad.
One day he said, “Mother, I must look for my father. No matter where he is I must find him.” So the boy left home.
He traveled through the world of men and came to the Corn Planter. “Can you lead me to my father?” he asked. Corn planter said nothing, but continued to tend his crops.
The boy went to the Pot Maker. “Can you lead me to my father?” Pot Maker said nothing, but continued making his pots.
Then the boy went to the Arrow Maker, who was a wise man. “Can you lead me to my father?” Arrow Maker did not answer, but, because he was wise, he saw that the Boy had come from the Sun God. So he created a special arrow. The Boy became the Arrow.
Arrow Maker fitted the Boy to his bow and drew it. The Boy flew into the Heavens. In this way the Boy traveled to the Sun.
After meeting the Sun God, and passing his tests, father and son rejoiced. The Boy was transformed and filled with the power of the Sun. “Now you must return to Earth, my son, and bring my spirit to the world of men.” Said the Sun God.
Once again the Boy became the Arrow. When the arrow reached the Earth, the Boy emerged and went to the Pueblo.
The People celebrated his return in the Dance of Life.”
Anyone familiar with the story of Karna can see the similarities. I will point out the obvious ones.
The Sun God is Suryadeva. The Maiden who received the spark of life through his rays is the Maiden Princess, Kunti. The Boy is Karna. The other boys who would not let him join in their games are the Pandavas who mocked Karna for not knowing who his father was.
The Corn Planter and Pot Maker represent the teachers Drona and Kripa. The Arrow Maker represents Parashurama, who accepted Karna as his disciple and made him the greatest archer on earth.
Of course there are many points in the Mahabharata story that don’t seem represented here but since the source is a modern retelling of an ancient Pueblo Indian tale, thousands of years of separation from the original version will always create variations. This phenomenon can be found in Vedic culture itself. Example: Hanuman is a well known Brahmacari yet in Thailand he is married.
It is hoped more research and cultural exchanges can be done in the ongoing search for Humanities Ancient World Vedic Heritage.