Buildings That Last

In the earthquake-prone central Andes Mountains, there archaeological sites with monumental adobe and stone block structures standing that were built by ancient people hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Clearly, the ancient builders planned to have their important structures last–-and they had the knowledge to build appropriately for their environment. Buildings that promise to last a long time are also being constructed today.

Food, Fertilizer, and Inca Empire Conservation

In the past century, manufacturing nitrogen fertilizers with ammonia has been explosive (even literally...). Increases in crop production from manufactured fertilizers have benefited tens of millions of people. Unfortunately, this fertilizer produces tremendous waste in an inefficient process that is highly polluting; we could lower global use with alternative methods. Over 500 years ago, the Incas implemented laws to conserve their valuable guano fertilizer.

From Mummies to Día de los Muertos

Celebrations of the Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, involve traditions to remember and honor deceased family members and friends. In this post we examine a few customs around death, beginning with the mummification practices of ancient Andeans and ending with a street parade in Mexico City, inspired by the death-defying feats of James Bond.

By |2021-11-04T17:04:48-07:00November 4th, 2021|Ancient Andean Cultures|4 Comments

Tracking Traces of Dog Domestication

Dogs have been human companions for thousands of years. As the first animal species domesticated, dogs altered human relationships with the natural world and profoundly influenced the course of early human history. New data indicate that dogs most likely accompanied the first explorers as they traveled southward from Siberia and fanned out across the Americas.

Water Security in a Crowded World

Achieving water security has been a challenge throughout human history. Now, an astonishing two-thirds of the global population is projected to have difficulty accessing potable water by 2025. Energy and clean water production are correlated, and fortunately intelligent people are currently exploring options to harness the power of the sun to reduce water shortages.

Machu Picchu and Mysterious “Gold” Mortar

Machu Picchu is truly one of the wonders of the world. The spectacular ridge-top site of this city and the fine masonry of royal Inca buildings are stunning aesthetic and technical accomplishments. Early Spanish chroniclers reported "molten gold" was used as mortar during stone block construction, and a research paper by a chemist presents some intriguing insights.

By |2021-07-12T17:18:51-07:00July 8th, 2021|Ancient Andean Cultures|2 Comments

Fabulous Ancient Andean Fabrics

We recognize an extremely long and rich tradition of fiber arts from the Andes Mountains -- possibly the longest continuous history of fiber use found on earth. From exquisite embroidered shrouds used to wrap mummies many thousands of years ago, to the finely woven tapestry tunics worn by Inca royalty, the artistry of these textiles is exceptional.

By |2021-03-11T07:59:04-07:00March 11th, 2021|Ancient Andean Cultures|4 Comments
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