The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 27, 2001 · Page 20
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 20

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, April 27, 2001
Page:
Page 20
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CB FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL T ARCHAEOLOGY The Associated Press A city as old as the Pyramids, Carai, is discovered in Peru. About 300 miles to the southwest of the central mound complex at Caral is another sunken circular plaza and platform complex, named Chipacigarro. City on a hill Ancient city as old as Pyramids found in Peru By Scripps Howard News Service At the same time that Egyptians were building some of the first pyramids 4,600 years ago, Peruvians were building stone platform mounds, plazas and canals in what new dating techniques show to be the oldest major city in the Americas. New radiocarbon dates from plant fibers indicate that the city known as Caral in central Peru was thriving between 2600 and 2000 B.C., more than a thousand years before other known cities in the Western Hemisphere, researchers report in today's edition of the journal Science. "What we're learning from Caral is going to rewrite the way we think about the development of early Andean civilization," said Jonathan Haas, curator of anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago and co-author of the study. "Our findings show that a very large, complex society had arisen on the coast of Peru centuries earlier than anyone had thought." Sitting on a dry desert terrace above a green valley floor watered by the Supe River, Caral is one of 18 large sites featuring "monumental" architecture. The largest stone pyramid at Caral is about two football fields long, nearly as wide a:nd five stories tall. The entire city covers some 200 acres. While there are some other small town sites with modest mounds in the region that seem to be older, nothing else from the third millennium B.C. comes close to the scale or complexity of buildings in and around Caral. The mounds were partly ceremonial but also used at least some of the time as bases for homes of high-status residents — beginning a pattern of mound-building cviltures in the Americas that stretched to the Mayans, the Kehokian culture of the Mississippi Valley and the Aztec empire found and conquered by the Spanish 3,000 years later "What we're learning from Caral is going to rewrite the way we think about the development of early Andean civilization." Jonathan Haas curator of anthropology, Field Museum, Chicago "The size of a structure is really an indication of power," Haas said. "It means that leaders of the society were able to get their followers to do lots of work. People don't just say, 'Hey, let's build a great big monument.' They do it because they're told to and because the consequences of not doing it are significant." No advanced tools, wheels Like the Egyptians building the Great Pyramids half a world away, the builders working in the Supe Valley lacked advanced tools, draft animals or the wheel. In fact, they didn't even know how to make pottery, a deficiency that caused archaeologists who first found the sites in 1905 to dismiss them as unimportant. Workers building the enormous platform mounds did so using an ancient kind of gabion construction — carrying bags woven from reeds and filled with stones and debris from larger cut stone and placing them intact inside stone retaining walls. Those reeds, which live for only a year, provided the fibers that Haas and colleagues Winifred Creamer of Northern Illinois University and Ruth Shady Soils of the Universidad National Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima, used to date the construction. "The radiocarbon dates help to put the site in context. Certain structures at Caral are common in the Andes, but now we know that these are some of the first. It's like saying we're looking at the first Christian church," Haas said. The terraced mounds were used by the ruling elite to oversee the city and surrounding area and were used as living quarters, with stairs, rooms, courtyards and other structures placed on top of the pyramids as well as on side terraces. Ongoing excavations are planned to determine if there were rooms, passageways or'even tombs inside the mounds and to try to determine whether all the sites in the valley were occupied at the same time. Caral also had a variety of apartment-house-type buildings made of mud, wood and stone, with varying degfees of construction quality that suggest class differences. Debris left behind in the foundations shows people lived in them. There are also three circular sunken plazas — the largest, 150 feet across — that were probably used for religious ceremonies. Similar ceremonial structures continued to be built in the Andes for thousands of years. Caral apparently was a hybrid society that survived on agricultural yields and sea harvests. People in the valley raised such plants as squash, beans and cotton, but no corn or other grains. This dashes the notion of many anthropologists that a civilization must cultivate grains that can be stored and exchanged for work in order to build monumental architecture. Creamer speculates that the food currency of the society may have been dried fish. Creamer also suspects the canals of Caral may have been the first built in the Americas to help support agriculture. Although the site today is dry, remote and sparsely settled, Caral appears to have played a pivotal role in social, political and economic development of civilization in South America, providing ancestral roots to the Incan empire. T JONBENET MURDER riNr .CAm.rsSINCE \im. QME FLOOR MJEEX FOR LIVING SINCE iim ^^f-"^ -" ' —"• MAhNINGTON SEE AND FEELTHE DIFFERENCE" SUNFLOWER GRPETONE 2559 Market Place • 5 Blocks North of Wal-Mart on 9th st, ilS-Gim 1 1-800-748-7493 Hours: Monday & Thursday 9-7, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 9-5:30, Closed Sunday. Financing Available. Investigator to release crime scene photos By The Associated Press BOULDER, Colo. —• A former investigator in the JonBenet Ramsey case says he plans to release crime scene photographs from the case, despite the objections of the district attorney. Lou Smit, a retired police detective who was a consultant for prosecutors in the case, says the photos point to the likelihood that 6-year-old Jon­ Benet was killed in 1996 by an intruder. Police have said her parents remain under an umbrella of suspicion, but no one has been charged in her death. A presentation of photos that Smit reportedly showed the grand jury in the case is to be shown Monday on the NBC's "Today" show. District Attorney Mary Keenan said Wednesday that Smit informed her of his decision to go public with the information, and she discouraged the move, saying media publicity has complicated the investigation. "I am opposed to anyone talking to the media about the Ramsey case," she said. Smit resigned as an investigator for the district attorney's office because he thought police and prosecutors were wrongly focusing on John and Patsy PENTAX Ramsey He took with him electronic copies of crime scene photos and other evidence. Prosecutors sued to get the materials back, but Smit was allowed to keep them and show them to anyone a month after the grand jury completed its work. The jury' disbanded in 1999 without indicting anyone. Smit said he is making his presentation public Mow in an effort to get investigators to look for suspects other than JonBenet's parents. He said he does not work for the Ramseys. 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Ail proceeds to benefit a Saliria family in need of decent affordable housing. • Playhouse • Outdoor Furniture • Birdhouses" i. • Sculptures • Paintings • Pots • Hanging Quilt^ • Decorative Lawn Sprinkler • Wreaths • Bicycle • Yard Sculpture by Dick Bergen • Rustic Utility Shed • Dog House • Garden Installation by Courtyard Creations • Baskets of Flowers •Room Di^er • Many Unusual Items! Salina Habitat, PO Box 3583, Salina, KS 674Q2*35?3" For more information call 7§5-823-993,1, V 4

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