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Latin America Team Dispatch

Peru's Early Hunters, Artists and Fighters

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Map of Peru
We can read email stories about travelers in Peru today but archeologists have to "read" pottery, clothes and cave walls to learn about Peru's earliest travelers. About 20,000 years ago, the first trekkers crossed the Bering Strait to begin a life of hunting and gathering. What did they hunt? Saber-tooth tigers, mastodons and giant sloths. These fierce hunters developed into sophisticated folks, designing fashion out of animal skins and tools out of stone and bone.

But how do a group of hunters become a remembered culture? By developing a unique style of pottery or textiles, or expanding agricultural or religious practices. People appreciate these advances, pass them on to the next generation and a culture is born. Probably the most celebrated Peruvian culture is the Incan, but there are four others you're going to hear a lot about over the next few weeks:

Chavin - 1000 to 300 BC
If you were going to worship an animal, which one would you choose? For the Chavin culture, the jaguar, with its sleek body and fighting spirit, was the center of their religion. In addition to ornamented jaguars, mythical animals and humans can be found on Chavin artifacts.

Moche - 100 AD to 700 AD
As time progressed so did Peruvian pottery and fabrics. The Moche culture (who Kevin learned a little about in this update!) is celebrated for its advanced technology, including pottery made from molds. Imagine if you didn't have to make every single plate you use from scratch! Pretty nice, huh? Stories of everyday life were told on these detailed ceramics in pictures, providing important information for archeologists today. Unfortunately a massive drought in the sixth century ended this thriving culture.

Nazca 100 AD to 700 AD
Not to be outdone, the Nazca culture developed their own famed pottery. This artistic culture also created giant designs in the desert known as the Nazca Lines. We'll be visiting these designs soon! These sand messages are a mystery to modern readers but can be viewed by airplane today.

Wari 600 to 1000 AD
In the sixth century, exciting things were happening in the Andes and the Wari people were responsible. Like these other cultures, the Wari were creating impressive art and developing strong religious beliefs, but they also liked to fight. They were Peru's first strong military culture. The Wari wiped out other cultures contributions as they conquered, replacing them with their own artistic and religious traditions. This didn't make them too popular, even though their advanced technology made life easier in some ways. This pattern of a conquering culture erasing the contributions of a weaker culture continued with the Inca Empire, the strongest cultural force in Peru at the time of Spanish invasion. You'll be hearing a LOT about them soon!

The Team

Shawn - Life on a Cargo Boat
Kavitha - Starving and Penniless
Monica - We Began the Journey as Paupers and Finished with a Japanese Feast!
Making a Difference - Live from Death Row
Kevin - Graverobbers and Life After Death - My Visit to a Moche Lord's Tomb
Abeja - Hot! Hot! Hot! I Looked Into His Eyes and Melted...
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