New study takes a bird’s-eye view of the Nasca Lines

New study takes a bird’s-eye view of the Nasca Lines

Enlarge (credit: Masaki Eda)

At first glance, one of the most famous figures of Peru’s Nasca Lines looks like a fairly generic hummingbird. But the details of the drawing—and those of several other ancient drawings, paintings, and sculptures of animals and plants around the world—reveal a lot of information about the actual species. The bird has three toes, all pointed in the same direction, a long, thin beak, and the feathers at the center of its tail are long and straight.

Those are trademarks of birds called hermits, a genus in the hummingbird family. Other hummingbird species in Peru have forked or fan-shaped tails (which is the kind of detail the Nasca artists likely would have gotten right).

“Until now, the birds in these drawings have been identified based on general impressions or a few morphological traits present in each figure,” said zooarchaeologist Masaki Eda of the Hokkaido University

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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.

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