I’m a fan of Jared Diamond’s classic "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" published back in 1997. Recently, I’ve discovered another two interesting “Big History” books.
Chavín de Huántar, high in the Andes Mountains of northern Peru, was the seat of an important religious power and cult that flourished for hundreds of years, beginning about 3,000 years ago. Shamanic beliefs and practices apparently played a central role in this religion, with some individuals using hallucinogenic drugs to reach altered states of consciousness for interactions with the spirit world. Exotic and somewhat sinister art forms, recognized as an essential part of the religion, depict these transformations.
The Incas and their ancestors who inhabited the Andes Mountains had many lively and colorful cultural practices – parading the mummies of long-dead rulers through the streets, oracles who spoke in tongues, psychedelic drug use, [...]
In 2005, a friend invited me to join a group to hike for several days through the Andes Mountains to Machu Picchu, the world-famous Incan archaeological site. I was thrilled, and quickly accepted the invitation. [...]