Ancient mysteries unveiled at Peru's Temple of Fire

Feb 13, 2013 by Marie Sanz
Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013.The recent discovery of a ceremonial fireplace believed to be more than 5,000 years old sheds light on one of the oldest populated sites in the Americas.

The recent discovery of a ceremonial fireplace believed to be more than 5,000 years old sheds light on one of the oldest populated sites in the Americas.

The fireplace, dubbed the Temple of Fire, was discovered within the El Paraiso archeological complex in the Chillon valley, located just outside the bustling Peruvian capital.

Archeologists say the site is comparable in age to Caral, the oldest pre-Columbian site in the Americas that was inhabited between 2,600 - 2,100 BC. Caral is located some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The fireplace was found when archeologists discovered a narrow entrance on a wing of El Paraiso's central pyramid in January, when they were removing sand and stones.

"We quickly realized the importance of this discovery," said Marco Guillen, the head archeologist at the site.

The entrance, measuring some 48 centimeters (19-inches) wide, leads to a chamber measuring eight by six meters (26 by 20 feet) where shellfish, grains, flowers and fruit were burned as offerings.

The stone walls inside "were covered with a fine coating of yellow soil, with traces of red paint," Guillen said. "The smoke allowed the priests to connect with the gods."

The temple has four levels, "each one older than the other," Guillen said.

The find shows that the Andean world was more closely connected than previously thought—this early construction set a blueprint reproduced in the ancient mountain chain civilizations for the centuries to come.

The central pyramid is the only building uncovered in El Paraiso. Experts say there are 10 "architectural units" at the site that include temples, plazas and residences.

Archeologists believe that the central pyramid had a communal use, while two other structures—which at a glance look like sandy hills—include buildings that appear to be homes.

"We know little about the other units, because they have not yet been studied," said Luis Caceres, head of archeology at the Ministry of Culture.

El Paraiso is spread across 50 hectares (125 acres) about two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Pacific Ocean.

At the center of the site are stone platforms discovered by French archeologist Frederic Engel in 1965. Today parts of the archeological zone has been taken over by farmers and urban squatters, though locals have banded together to stop further encroachment.

Evidence uncovered by Engel lead experts to estimate that some 3,000 people could have lived in El Pariso, Guillen said. Experts are currently analyzing waste samples to find out what they ate.

Archeologists believe the ancient coastal civilizations raised crops including cotton, which they traded with coastal fishermen for food.

The discovery "demonstrates the importance of Lima from time immemorial," long before the arrival of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who founded the Peruvian capital in 1535, Deputy Culture Minister Rafael Varon told reporters when the discovery was announced on Tuesday.

"There is a lot to discover in order to untangle the mysteries held at El Pariso," Guillen told AFP. "We need to know if below these structures there are even older ones."

"We just began and already found the Temple of Fire," he said.

The government of President Ollanta Humala has allocated $1.8 million over the next five years for research at the site.

Explore further: Earlier Stone Age artifacts found in Northern Cape of South Africa

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User comments : 25

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Arcbird
1 / 5 (6) Feb 13, 2013
Stop lying damnit, the ancient recently discovered city in south africa is 200 000 years old. And Puma Punku is 12 000 years at least.
Birger
5 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2013
Re; claims by Archbird: Somebody has read too much "Tarzan" or von Däniken.
Arcbird
1 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2013
Arcbird*

I've no ideá who von Däniken is and Tarzan I barely know anything about, look up the sites yourself, it's pretty obvious.
Twin
3 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2013
With no evidence cited, I cannot refute the conclusions. It is, however, strange to me that almost everything archeologists find is ceremonial, religious, fetish, or sacrificial.

With an article that is essentially a long headline (very little information), I prefer to think of this as a community BBQ.
Sean_W
2 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2013
I prefer to think of this as a community BBQ.


Why were they BBQing in the temple? Fundraiser? Maybe they will find evidence of a bake sale there too.
= )
El_Nose
not rated yet Feb 13, 2013
While the initial findings of large sites tends to be the big temple of the site that just makes sense.

The temple is the largest building. After excavation of the temple then the surrounding area is looked at and then the homes are found IF they were made of stone of some other lasting material. Entire S.American villages have been uncovered complete with cooking utensils, vases, urns, and wall decorations.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2013
Arcbird*

I've no ideá who von Däniken is and Tarzan I barely know anything about, look up the sites yourself, it's pretty obvious.
So look up von daniken and tarzan. Learn something new.
With no evidence cited, I cannot refute the conclusions. It is, however, strange to me that almost everything archeologists find is ceremonial, religious, fetish, or sacrificial.
These were the only things usually built or carved from stone. Although I think things such as mounds were more for comfort than religion, to avoid flies and catch the breeze.
LarryD
1 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2013
Having had 'a look round' it seems that the general opinion is that Puma Punku is set in an area where C14 dating estimates are in the 400-500 AD range. One website even suggests that the 14,000 year estimate is not confirmed and that the source is, say, 'questionable'. To be frank it isn't the age that intrigues me. There are several European sites that have been claimed to be connected involving giant stones where it seems all to coincidental that many ancient sites used similar technology. My question would be 'if there were similar 'technologies' around at the time how were they communicated to other lands?' I haven't read, perhaps someone else has, about writings that mention visitors passing on techniques. Sumer is generally accepted has the first society with law courts, maths and the like but there doesn't appear to be same coming from the megalithic builders.
CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2013
El Paraiso archeological site in a valley just north of Lima


Well now looters know where they need to go.
_traw_at
not rated yet Feb 14, 2013
This site has been known about for a long time, and studied since as late as 1950. Not much to loot in a pre-ceramic site.
The Temple of Fire rolls the age of this site back 2,000 years or so.

http://en.wikiped...so,_Peru
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2013
'if there were similar 'technologies' around at the time how were they communicated to other lands?
It is called diplomacy. Ancient Leaders found that, in order to conquer the world, they had to begin working together to fight the true enemies of rulers everywhere: the people. The people, whose numbers would always grow faster than the means they had of supporting themselves, and then blame their rulers for their misery who were powerless to prevent it.

And so rulers began scheming together against the people, by pitting them against one another in Creative and Proactive Ways. Rulers intermarried and a new Tribe of Leaders emerged, dedicated to preserving civilization against the flood of humanity at all costs.

Needless to say, this meme was an easy sell and spread worldwide very quickly. The Formula is easy to understand and easily repeated, which is why we can recognize it on all continents and among all cultures which had managed to survive for any length of time.
LarryD
3 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2013
TheGhostofOtto1923, perhaps I didn't state my question correctly. It would seem that after Sumer other cultures seem to have used similar technology almost at the same time thus suggesting either coincidence or the ability to communicate as quickly as we do today. How did they do this? Sumerian is not related to other languages in any simple way and was not being used for general purposes by late Babylonian times. As far as I know only a small portion Sumerian maths was similar the later Egyptian which suggests that communication wasn't very fast. Yet some artifacts from cultures much further distant suggest otherwise.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2013
was similar the later Egyptian which suggests that communication wasn't very fast. Yet some artifacts from cultures much further distant suggest otherwise.
How did the conquistadors communicate with mesoamericans? How did Xian missionaries communicate with indigenes around the world?

Communication is not the issue. The issue is WHAT you have to communicate.

A ship shows up on the shores of precolombian Mexico. An emissary steps off with many strange gifts and a desire to speak with whoever is in charge. Soon afterward, irrigation commences, granaries are built, temples are erected, enemies are crushed, and an eerily familiar civilization emerges from the jungle.

Macchu picchu was built in anticipation of the invasion, 60 yrs before the spaniards got there. It was a refuge for a Priesthood who knew full well what was to come. For They had Established an empire expressly Designed to be conquered.
LarryD
3 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2013
TheGhostofOtto1923, you misunderstand me. You can only communicate when 2 meet so that one language can be translated into another. I am talking thousand of years BC when translation was not possible. What WAS possible then was to be taught by those (Sumerians for example) who could teach. I'm suggesting that megolithic and similar structures were appearing almost simultaneously far and wide yet there wasn't an adequate MEANS of long distance communication. Indeed, some structures took (apparently) generations to build and that would need some type language and maths so that one generation could pass 'it on'. Many sites have been shown to be 'mathematically' correct yet according to experts that kind knowledge was simply not there. There are claims that some European structures are continuations of Irish ones and are dated way before the rise of Sumer and there was little or no adaequate language to do this. I am saying that we are missing an important 'link.
LarryD
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2013
Cont.
Catch you later I'm off to lunch (Thailand)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2013
What WAS possible then was to be taught by those (Sumerians for example) who could teach. I'm suggesting that megolithic and similar structures were appearing almost simultaneously far and wide yet there wasn't an adequate MEANS of long distance communication.
By simultaneously you mean over the course of a generation or 2, a few 100 yrs, a millennium or so. Plenty of time for Emissaries to travel around the world and back, by land or sea. The world is a lot smaller than we were taught.

Marco polo, lief Ericsson, Magellan, etc ranged far and wide. Evidence is that china traded with the Americas. The possibility of intercontinental travel has existed for millenia. Phoenicia plied the African coast and colonized Britain.

Roman artifacts have been found in brazil. Cocaine and tobacco has been found within the tissues of Egyptian mummies. Much evidence. What journeys didn't history record?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2013
generations to build and that would need some type language and maths so that one generation could pass 'it on'.
A Priesthood can last for an indefinite period of time, preserving traditions and spreading the good Word to rulers everywhere.

'We understand the problems you have with your people. Rulers everywhere share these problems. We have a Solution which has worked for them and it will work for you as well.

You and the kings in the other cities will begin Planning your battles so that your victories will be over your people, and not each other. They will fight and die, your culture will endure. OUR culture. Join the Club.'

Marco polo spread exactly this message as emissary for the khan, who was Agent of Empire.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2013
there was little or no adaequate language to do this. I am saying that we are missing an important 'link.
If you think that people have to share a common language in order to communicate, you're obviously wrong. Translators can be educated in a matter of weeks. Cultures have been contacting, interacting, trading with one another forever.
LarryD
3 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2013
TheGhostofOtto1923, once again you misunderstand me. You are not going back far enough. The pictures drawn by Maori and similar tribes goes much further, perhaps 10's of thousands of years yet there is no evidence of their designs eleswhere, are unique to that part of the world. There is no evidence of a language that predates Sumerian (6000yrs BC). In other words apart from pictures there was NO language to teach. Chinese Pictograms didn't develop until much later (approx 2700 BC) where curved 'seal writings' were more accurate in depiction that the later 'straight lined' ones (straight lines were simply easier and quicker to draw). Based on you suggestions Chinese should have spread (experts say it has a fascination about it) but it didn't. Or why didn't Sumerian spread to China which had many advantages over Chinese..it didn't. Don't quote the Romans because there weren't around at the time. You speak of Marco polo, he is modern compared to what I refer to. (cont.)
LarryD
3 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2013
(cont.) When one reads about the ancient megolithic sites that sprang up around the world, it seems to me that there was almost a 'competition' going on. No books or TV around then, people had to do something to pass the time. So someone constucts a few stones to represent something (the Moon etc.) Someone from another tribe a couple of miles away sees this and thinks 'shhh, grunt, wow' (I can do better than that) and before you know it there's a new social activity spreading. If there was one thing that ancient people knew about, it was competing against one another because it appealed to their basic instinct. To me this has a far better foundation than merely having missionaries on a tour of the world.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2013
perhaps 10's of thousands of years yet there is no evidence of their designs eleswhere, are unique to that part of the world. There is no evidence of a language that predates Sumerian (6000yrs BC). In other words apart from pictures there was NO language to teach.
?? Are you saying that people didnt communicate verbally before then? People have been speaking for at least 100k years.
http://en.wikiped...language

-I believe the genesis of this tribe of Leaders took place fairly recently because, as you say, mega-builder civilizations arose within a few 1000 years of each other. Communal farming made it possible, and also caused all the problems which made it essential, and inevitable. This began perhaps 10,000 years ago.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2013
it seems to me that there was almost a 'competition' going on.
There was indeed competition going on, but it was over resources. Mankind had produced for itself a state of constant overpopulation, by systematically eliminating those natural attritive elements which had kept its numbers in check. Mans principal enemy thus became the tribe next door.
So someone constucts a few stones to represent something
People have been building things for defense against the elements, animals, and that other tribe you are talking about, for a long time.

"An artist's rendering of a temporary wood house, based on evidence found at Terra Amata (in Nice, France) and dated to the Lower Paleolithic (c. 400,000 BP)"
http://en.wikiped...eolithic

-All of this - weapons making, hunting and fighting in teams, building fortifications etc required detailed communicating skills. They developed in concert,
LarryD
3 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2013
TheGhostofOtto1923, Yes, right, you have partly proved my point. In those times tribes had quite enough to do in just Living. Developing a Language to tell another tribe to 'push off' was hardly necessary when it was quicker to bash them with a well designed club, very effective in telling them they weren't welcome!(Ha, we haven't progressed that much after all eh?)
What I'm saying is that many experts write that human's didn't have the ability to do what they apparently did do. For example, there is still a mystery regarding why around 4-5000 years communities of 5000 people plus ,with writing an other skills were present in Europe yet wasn't 'communicated' to Britain (just over the water) until much later.
So where did the silmilar, and advanced 'mathematical structures' Astro-Archaelogical skill come from?
So,TheGhostofOtto1923, admit it there are just some things we can't explain, and unless more evidence is found, we never will! Ha Marco Polo indeed...! Have a nice day, or night.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2013
Developing a Language to tell another tribe to 'push off' was hardly necessary when it was quicker to bash them with a well designed club, very effective in telling them they weren't welcome!
Yeah but the effort of telling them required planning, scheming, anticipating their movements, and coordinating the attack among many participants. This is direct evidence of verbal communication.
4-5000 years communities of 5000 people plus ,with writing an other skills were present in Europe yet wasn't 'communicated' to Britain (just over the water) until much later.
Sorry I don't know what you're trying to say. You have links or something?
LarryD
1 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2013
TheGhostofOtto1923, from what I have read it seems the experts regard 5000 people in a single 'settlement'(organised, defensible etc) as the lower limit for for a town or city. I'm not so sure about that myself as smaller settlements in Europe seemed to have matched the criteria but then I'm no expert.
What I was saying about Britain (me being a native) is that 4-5000 years ago it seemes no one associated with the natives there apparently because we British were too barbaric at that time (again questionable). Yet even without that communication Britains still managed to build structures similar to those in Europe. A coincidence?
I take your point about planning etc. but I don't think it is proof of verbal commuincation, 'pictures convey a thousand words' and all that eh?
Now I don't doubt that there was some kind language but that's my point. If Sumerian is the earliest recorded spoken/written language then what was language spoken before that? There is no record of it!