Ancient Peruvian engineering could help solve modern water shortages

Ancient Peruvian engineering could help solve modern water shortages

Enlarge / Diversion canals channel water into earth-bottomed infiltration canals like this one, where water can begin to soak into the ground on its way to a pond or basin. (credit: Musuq Briceño, CONDESAN, 2012.)

Rain seldom falls on the desert lowlands of coastal Peru, so people in the area have always depended on the water that flows down from the Andes during the rainy season. But streams in this part of the world come and go quickly, so indigenous people built a system of canals and ponds to channel excess rainwater and create groundwater. Now a group of researchers says that a scaled-up version could help improve Peru’s water management.

Ancient engineers (not aliens)

1,400 years ago, Chavin and Wari indigenous communities on the slopes of the Andes Mountains dug systems of stone-lined and earthen canals to channel excess rainwater from streams to areas where the ground could soak

Read the rest
Ancient Bolivian ritual kit contains traces of hallucinogens

Ancient Bolivian ritual kit contains traces of hallucinogens

Enlarge / This is a view of the Cueva del Chileno excavation site. (credit: José Capriles, Penn State)

In a rock shelter in the highlands of southwest Bolivia amid the rubble of an area once set aside for funerary rituals, archaeologists found a leather-wrapped bundle of tools for preparing and inhaling snuff. They radiocarbon-dated the bundle to between 905 and 1170 CE, which is when the Tiwanaku Empire (a predecessor of the Inca and rival of the nearby Wari) was crumbling into smaller regional states. Chemical analysis reveals that the bundle once contained a small assortment of psychoactive plants, including coca leaves and ayahuasca.

Unwrapping a shaman’s bundle

Archaeologists Melanie Miller, José Capriles, and their colleagues used mass spectrometry to identify traces of cocaine, along with four other compounds, inside a hide pouch sewn from the skins of three fox snouts.

One compound, harmine, points to a plant called

Read the rest
How to brew ancient Wari beer

How to brew ancient Wari beer

Enlarge (credit: Donna Nash)

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroyed the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

“They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn’t be used by successor societies when they left,” Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. “The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames.”

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Source Read the rest