Cradle of Civilization in South America
The Incas came late in the history of Pre-Columbian South America, starting around 1200 CE (about 300 years before Columbus). Yet, the idea of civilization starting in South America seems inextricably connected to the Incas. The image of Machu Picchu has been imprinted on our imaginations.
When the Spaniards invaded the Incas in 1532, they found an empire which recently had undergone massive expansion under the Inca monarch, Huayna Capac (14931525), and had been challenged by an Inca civil war (15291532). The Incas were no match for Spanish horses, guns and smallpox.
The pious Spaniards were unkind to native culture, defacing Inca structures of their pagan symbols and art. Machu Picchu escaped such destruction because of its remoteness. In fact, Westerners knew nothing about the mountain citadel until historian and Yale University lecturer, Hiram Bingham, was led there by a native boy in 1911.
At the time of its "discovery," the site had been overgrown with jungle. These mountain ruins are located only 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Cusco, the old Inca capital and now modern Peruvian city.
At some Inca sites, however, the signature ashlar stone construction of the Incas sits atop much larger stones of unknown origin. Some of those stones are more than a hundred tons each one close to 300 tons, while most of the Inca stones are less than four tons each. Examples of these may be found in Cusco, Sacsahuaman and other places around Peru. R. Cedric Leonard, on his website, Atlantis Quest, points out that these older stones are polygonal in shape, fitting together without mortar. Such odd shapes with stones so heavy is not a task modern engineers would easily tackle, if at all. Yet, the odd pattern apparently makes the walls far more earthquake proof. Who were these pre-Inca builders?
The Mysterious Andean Past
The Caral civlization (also Norte Chico civilization), Supe Valley, Peru, was discovered by Peruvian anthropologist and archaeologist, Ruth Shady, about 125 miles (200 km) north of Lima, the capital, and about 12 miles (20 km) from the coast. Published radiocarbon dates (2001) give a range of 26271977 BCE. With the dating accomplished, Caral proves to be the earliest known city of the Americas. Though the Caral people did not use pottery and produced very little in the way of art, they created a number of settlements throughout the desert Supe Valley with a total population thought to be close to 20,000. Their buildings include several pyramids, temples, houses and an amphitheater.
The ruins of Tiwanaku (Spanish Tiahuanacu) which reside near the southeastern shore of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, provide us with several enigmas. Traditional dating of the site pegs its development at between 300 and 1000 CE, yet these dates are based on the pottery found at the site. R. Cedric Leonard, at his Atlantis Quest website, points out that the dates for the stone structures may be completely different. Stone cannot be carbon dated, so researchers rely on the pottery and other artifacts found at the site. Yet those items may have been left by late-comers who were in awe of the stone structures and copied the symbols found there onto their own pottery.
Ancient structures frequently are aligned to astronomical coordinates. One important structure, the Kalasasaya (Place of Vertical Stones), is strangely off by a few degrees. This oddity may have a simple explanation. Astronomical directions relative to locations on Earth are not constant. Because of natural, periodic changes in the tilt of Earth's axis, the amount of deviation would indicate a date of about 15,000 BCE, if the structure had been built to a more perfect alignment at that time.
Perhaps a more compelling argument for a far earlier date of construction involves the artistic depiction on the stone structures of species which ceased to exist before the Holocene epoch like the toxodon, a large mammal of South America with a body similar in shape and size to that of the rhinoceros or hippopotamus. These were thought to have gone extinct between 16,500 and 11,000 BCE, and many of their skeletons were associated with arrowheads, showing that humans were one of their predators.
Could the structures at Tiwanaku, Bolivia have been made by Atlantean colonists? Granted, this is a provocative question, but we have proof of an Atlantis-like event at the time Plato gives us for the demise of Atlantis. If an advanced civilization existed ten millennia before the Common Era, why not Atlantis five thousand years earlier at Tiwanaku? Otherwise we are left with an even more provocative question: Could there have been more than one advanced civilization before our own history began?
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