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.

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

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

Drinking and Feasting

From maize-based chicha, or corn beer, in the Andes Mountains, to mead from honey in ancient Greece, and wine from grapes in Predynastic Egypt, fermented beverages have been a part of cultural rituals for many thousands of years. Celebrations that include copious amounts of alcoholic drinks and specially prepared foods have been widely practiced in numerous cultures over time.

By |2020-12-17T11:38:07-07:00December 17th, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|6 Comments

Mysteries of Inca Moray – Part 2

High in the Andes Mountains, the archaeological site of Moray holds many mysteries. Starting with natural sinkholes, Inca builders lined a set of huge circular depressions with concentric terraces. Constructing Moray required tremendous engineering skill and thousands of hours of construction efforts, so why was it built?

By |2020-10-29T06:10:17-07:00October 29th, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|0 Comments

Mysteries of Inca Moray – Part 1

The Incas were accomplished engineers who built long-lasting structures, from Machu Pichu on a ridgetop to the Inca Road system along the spine of the Andes Mountains. A sculpted landscape masterpiece that is less well known is a set of large circular depressions lined with concentric rings of stone-lined terraces. Named Moray and located on a high plain about 20 miles northwest of Cusco, these circles began as deep natural sinkholes with unstable slopes at the angle of repose.

By |2020-10-19T17:04:13-07:00October 22nd, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|4 Comments

Marvelous Maize

Maize (aka corn) was considered a sacred plant by the Inca, Tiwanaku, Moche and many other ancient Andean cultures. In the Andes Mountains, for millennia the principal use of this plant has been to make an alcoholic beverage called chicha. This beverage was so important to the social and economic functioning of ancient Andean societies that when there was a major disruption in the flow of maize, it helped to trigger the collapse of at least one society that had flourished for hundreds of years.

By |2020-10-01T06:34:59-07:00October 1st, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|4 Comments
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