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Machu Picchu’s Unique Geology

Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel high on a ridge in the Andes Mountains, is one of the most impressive and widely recognized archaeological sites on Earth. Since I am fascinated by this spectacular place, I’ve written about it in several blog posts. In a new article I’ve focused on the geology – and this is posted on a website called "GondwanaTalks".

By |2020-09-23T19:37:28-07:00September 23rd, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|0 Comments

Nevada Tufa, Tuff, and Scarps

Nevada encompasses an enormous variety of rock, mineral, and geomorphic features. Many aspects of this geology can be seen along Highway 50, which extends from west to east .... and is also known as “The Loneliest Road in America” (doubling its appeal, IMO!). On a recent trip while camping at remote sites (social distancing!), I explored along a western section of this highway....

By |2020-09-17T16:12:46-07:00September 17th, 2020|Our Amazing Earth|2 Comments

Ancient Andean Ritual Drugs – and Beyond

The Inca, Tiwanaku, Moche, Chavín, and many other indigenous Andean cultures used a variety of plant-based drugs – including hallucinogens and narcotics -- in their religious rituals. When the ancient people ingested what they considered to be sacred plants, access to a separate realm – a supernatural world – could be reliably achieved.

By |2020-09-08T07:02:21-07:00September 10th, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|2 Comments

Earthquakes and Eruptions in Eastern California

A huge volcano erupted violently about 760,000 years ago on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, forming a large depression called the Long Valley Caldera. This “super-eruption” was estimated to be more than 2,000 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mt St Helens...Today, the Mammoth Lakes resort area is on the western edge of the ancient caldera.

By |2020-08-28T08:07:41-07:00August 27th, 2020|Our Amazing Earth|6 Comments

Monuments, Megaliths, and Inca Builders

In the Andes Mountains of South America, the Incas and their ancestors invested enormous amounts of time and labor in the meticulous work of quarrying, transporting, and fitting together multi-ton stone blocks, or megaliths, for monumental construction projects..... The ancient Andean stonework is so impressive that many have found it difficult to believe that mere humans, who lacked draft animals and were using only stone-age tools, could be responsible for the construction.

By |2020-08-06T11:17:06-07:00August 6th, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|6 Comments

Salt Ponds of Maras

Small salt ponds numbering in the thousands are arranged on steep mountain slopes near the city of Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire, high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Known as Maras, and originating from a saline spring, these salt ponds have been tended carefully since Inca times 500 years ago, and possibly for hundreds (or thousands?) of years before the Incas.

By |2020-07-30T16:05:36-07:00July 30th, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|4 Comments

Ancient Ochre Mines Underwater

Evidence indicating where ancient people collected the valuable pigment red ochre thousands of years ago may seem like an unlikely combination with underwater archaeology – but that isn’t the case. Sea levels have been substantially lower than at present for most of human existence, so we know that many traces of our history are hidden beneath water.

By |2020-07-23T10:40:28-07:00July 23rd, 2020|Our Amazing Earth|2 Comments
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