Ancient mysteries unveiled at Peru's Temple of Fire

Archaeologists work at the El Paraiso archaeological site in Lima on February 14, 2013
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.

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(c) 2013 AFP

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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.

Feb 13, 2013
Re; claims by Archbird: Somebody has read too much "Tarzan" or von Däniken.

Feb 13, 2013

I've no ideá who von Däniken is and Tarzan I barely know anything about, look up the sites yourself, it's pretty obvious.

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.

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.
= )

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.

Feb 13, 2013

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.

Feb 13, 2013
El Paraiso archeological site in a valley just north of Lima

Well now looters know where they need to go.

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.,_Peru

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

-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.

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)"

-All of this - weapons making, hunting and fighting in teams, building fortifications etc required detailed communicating skills. They developed in concert,

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?

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