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.

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

Encounters with the ENSO – Part 2

El Niños, the warm phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern, could be devastating for ancient Andean societies. Direct evidence of these events is scarce, but clever archaeological sleuthing has revealed details of event recurrence – and desperate measures taken by authorities to stop destructive flooding.

By |2021-01-23T11:33:01-07:00January 21st, 2021|Ancient Andean Cultures, Our Amazing Earth|2 Comments

Andean Abundance

Five hundred years ago the Inca Empire stretched across the Andes Mountains of South America, encompassing arid coastal deserts, snow-covered mountains, and humid rainforests.... Since the empire fell in the 16th century, there is something that no subsequent government ruling over this territory has successfully achieved.

By |2020-12-03T07:20:16-07:00December 3rd, 2020|Ancient Andean Cultures|4 Comments
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