Rise of religion pre-dates Incas at Lake Titicaca

Rise of religion pre-dates Incas at Lake Titicaca
Findings, such as this bowl, allowed the researchers to reconstruct the structure and significance of repeated state rituals by the Tiwanaku people. Credit: Teddy Seguin

An ancient group of people made ritual offerings to supernatural deities near the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, about 500 years earlier than the Incas, according to an international team of researchers. The team's findings suggest that organized religion emerged much earlier in the region than previously thought.

"People often associate the Island of the Sun with the Incas because it was an important pilgrimage location for them and because they left behind numerous ceremonial buildings and offerings on and around this island," said Jose Capriles, assistant professor of anthropology, Penn State. "Our research shows that the Tiwanaku people, who developed in Lake Titicaca between 500 and 1,100 AD, were the first people to offer items of value to religious deities in the area."

The Incas, Capriles noted, did not arrive in the Lake Titicaca region until around the 15th century AD.

A team lead by Christophe Delaere, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology and research associate at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, conducted underwater archaeological excavations in the Khoa Reef near the Island of the Sun. The archaeologists used sonar and underwater three-dimensional photogrammetry to scan and map the reef. They used a water-dredge to excavate the sediment and measured and weighed all the archaeological materials they uncovered. Their results appear today (April 1) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In particular, the team found ritual offerings consisting of ceramic feline incense burners; sacrificed juvenile llamas; and gold, shell and stone ornaments.

"The findings, and especially the ceramic puma-shaped incense burners, are significant because they help us gain a broader understanding of the ritual behavior and religion of the Tiwanaku stateā€”a society that preceded the Incas by several hundred years," said Delaere.

Rise of religion pre-dates Incas at Lake Titicaca
The team found ritual offerings consisting of ceramic feline incense burners; sacrificed juvenile llamas; and gold, shell and stone ornaments Credit: Teddy Seguin

The puma was an important religious symbol to the Tiwanaku, Delaere added.

Another observation made by the team was that the religious offerings appear to have been made intentionally to be submerged underwater.

"The presence of anchors near the offerings suggests that officiating authorities may have deposited the offerings during rituals held from boats," said Capriles.

According to Capriles, the Island of the Sun was likely important to the Tiwanaku people because of its natural beauty, but also because of its location at the center of the Andes Mountains.

"It was a strategic and ritually charged place," said Capriles. "At the Island of the Sun and the Khoa Reef, religious specialists could come together for sacred ceremonies. The ritual offerings they made here demonstrate the transitioning of societies from more local-based religious systems to something that had a more ambitious geopolitical and spiritual appeal."

In turn, he added, this emergence of organized religion likely led to consolidation of the groups of people living around the lake and the emergence of the Tiwanaku state, characterized by political hierarchy.


Explore further

Bolivia's Lake Titicaca yields trove of relics

More information: Christophe Delaere el al., "Underwater ritual offerings in the Island of the Sun and the formation of the Tiwanaku state," PNAS (2019). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1820749116
Citation: Rise of religion pre-dates Incas at Lake Titicaca (2019, April 1) retrieved 18 April 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-religion-pre-dates-incas-lake-titicaca.html
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Apr 01, 2019
A very interesting find, it is.
The article is concerning religion so that I surmised that many atheists would have come into the phorum by now to discuss their hatred of religions.
Oh wait. They are less likely to bother with this one since their hatred is most of all for Christian religions - and sometimes on the Jewish, but very very seldom will they say anything against Islamic religions.

Apr 01, 2019
but very very seldom will they say anything against Islamic religions
Never heard of Hitchens, or Harris, or Dawkins huh? One of the things I enjoy about being an atheist - is I think many prominent atheists - are very equal opportunity in terms of criticism of woo woo (nice neutral term applied to cults of religion.)
https://www.youtu...on+islam
https://www.youtu...bamwlPI8
https://www.youtu..._0s1c2V4

Not endorsing any of these individuals - just pointing out that atheists are indeed critical of Islam, as well as Christianity.

Apr 01, 2019
It the rotten media that refuses to see any evil in Islam, telling us any problems are "cultural" and not religious. Or so they keep telling themselves, and others. 1 million murdered in 20 years of terrorist attacks would argue against their position. As for the Incas, and what predated them, the archeologists know less about the history of South American than Egypt.

Apr 02, 2019
It the rotten media that refuses to see any evil in Islam, telling us any problems are "cultural" and not religious. Or so they keep telling themselves, and others. 1 million murdered in 20 years of terrorist attacks would argue against their position. As for the Incas, and what predated them, the archeologists know less about the history of South American than Egypt.
says Thor

I have also wondered about the mainstream media's seeming angst wrt Hamas being bombarded by Israeli missiles, etc., and yet unable to show enough empathy toward Yazidi and Christian women and children being raped and murdered by ISIS. A double-standard in American journalism (yellow) has reared its ugly head in this century.
WRT most any religion, the rituals, beliefs and its culture do bring its adherents together socially and probably for protection.
South & Central American Indians have origins in Mongolia, so that it is possible that their craftsmanship stems from ancient Chinese culture

Apr 02, 2019
South & Central American Indians have origins in Mongolia, so that it is possible that their craftsmanship stems from ancient Chinese culture


Nonsense. Amerindians came originally from what is now Siberia. And that was at least 15 000 years ago. China didn't exist.

Apr 02, 2019
but very very seldom will they say anything against Islamic religions
Never heard of Hitchens, or Harris, or Dawkins huh? One of the things I enjoy about being an atheist - is I think many prominent atheists - are very equal opportunity in terms of criticism of woo woo (nice neutral term applied to cults of religion.)
Not endorsing any of these individuals - just pointing out that atheists are indeed critical of Islam, as well as Christianity.


Yes, I've heard of them, but I doubt that they were amongst the atheists that frequent physorg. Live and let live, I say. As I am a Creationist who doesn't subscribe to manmade religions, I can say that I would certainly not "tar & feather" an atheist because he doesn't believe as I do. Conversely, neither should I be condemned by atheists for believing in the Creator God to satisfy their own need to pretend that they have a better solution. In any case, I think that it is Hitchens who has met his final reward.

Apr 02, 2019
South & Central American Indians have origins in Mongolia, so that it is possible that their craftsmanship stems from ancient Chinese culture


Nonsense. Amerindians came originally from what is now Siberia. And that was at least 15 000 years ago. China didn't exist.
says Castrovagina

Siberia is part of Russia. Mongolia IIRC was the original land where native Americans originated before they crossed the Bering Strait on the land bridge. The Chinese people & culture were already in the region of Mongolia at that time even though it wasn't called "China". There are still Mongols in that area who resemble native Americans. The Chinese didn't just appear one day out of thin air. They had thriving communities plus arts & crafts. Some groups broke away and resettled closer to the coast. But they are all basically the same peoples.

Apr 02, 2019
Siberia is part of Russia. Mongolia IIRC was the original land where native Americans originated before they crossed the Bering Strait on the land bridge. The Chinese people & culture were already in the region of Mongolia at that time even though it wasn't called "China". There are still Mongols in that area who resemble native Americans. The Chinese didn't just appear one day out of thin air. They had thriving communities plus arts & crafts. Some groups broke away and resettled closer to the coast. But they are all basically the same peoples.


Well you recall wrongly. There was no Chinese culture > 15 000 years ago.

Apr 02, 2019
Egg
neither should I be condemned by atheists for believing in the Creator God to satisfy their own need to pretend that they have a better solution
Solution to what? You bring up the Yazidi.
and yet unable to show enough empathy toward Yazidi and Christian women and children being raped and murdered by ISIS
I saw a great deal of coverage of the Yazidi by media. But surely the point is that as atheists - watching 1 religious cult - rape, torture, murder members of another religious cult - given our lack of adherence to a religious ideology - we find this behavior evil - and want to argue for a world in which this kind of shit is ended. If you know any history - you are aware of the rivers of blood - shed by warring religious cults. I am an atheist - and an equal opportunity critic. Here - https://www.newyo...children

Apr 02, 2019
Egg
neither should I be condemned by atheists for believing in the Creator God to satisfy their own need to pretend that they have a better solution
Solution to what? You bring up the Yazidi.
and yet unable to show enough empathy toward Yazidi and Christian women and children being raped and murdered by ISIS
..But surely the point is that as atheists - watching 1 religious cult - rape, torture, murder members of another religious cult - given our lack of adherence to a religious ideology - we find this behavior evil - and want to argue for a world in which this kind of shit is ended. If you know any history - you are aware of the rivers of blood - shed by warring religious cults. I am an atheist - and an equal opportunity critic.

Yes, there are some Yazidi here in the States, and while they are here, they are safe from ISIS. Whether religious or not, rape, torture and murder are condemned by Christians. Not all Christians are religious, btw.

Apr 02, 2019
Siberia is part of Russia. Mongolia IIRC was the original land where native Americans originated before they crossed the Bering Strait on the land bridge. The Chinese people & culture were already in the region of Mongolia at that time even though it wasn't called "China". There are still Mongols in that area who resemble native Americans. The Chinese didn't just appear one day out of thin air. They had thriving communities plus arts & crafts. Some groups broke away and resettled closer to the coast. But they are all basically the same peoples.


Well you recall wrongly. There was no Chinese culture > 15 000 years ago.
says Castrovagina

And your evidence that the Chinese had no culture 15k years ago is.....? Did they live in trees like YOUR ancestors? LOL

Apr 02, 2019
rape, torture and murder are condemned by Christians
Completely irrelevant to the point I was making - which is that history is awash in the blood of different cults - slaughtering each other. So - many of us believe that the world will be a better place - when we have evolved beyond the unfathomable practice of slaughtering each other in the name of tribal allegiance. Religious cults are central to that practice. There is no conspiracy. I and many others - just want to live in a rational world - that values critical thinking, and reason. Woo woo by any other name - is still woo woo.

Apr 03, 2019
rape, torture and murder are condemned by Christians
Completely irrelevant to the point I was making - which is that history is awash in the blood of different cults - slaughtering each other. So - many of us believe that the world will be a better place - when we have evolved beyond the unfathomable practice of slaughtering each other in the name of tribal allegiance. Religious cults are central to that practice. There is no conspiracy. I and many others - just want to live in a rational world - that values critical thinking, and reason. Woo woo by any other name - is still woo woo.
says greeno

You seem to be implying that "religious cults" are busily encouraging humans to go out and slaughter others for the crime of disbelief in their established dogma, etc. AFAIK, there are no Christian or Jewish religious "cults" who preach such violent acts on anyone. It is only the religious leaders of ISIS/ISIL who preach for the killing of nonMuslims.


Apr 03, 2019
AFAIK, there are no Christian or Jewish religious "cults" who preach such violent acts on anyone
Well - here is an example
Their main goal was to establish a theocracy based on the Ten Commandments... many boys are forced to shoot their own mothers. Girls and women are turned into sex slaves or wives of the fighters

But it does not matter. Woo Woo is woo woo. We don't like watching things like the L.R.A. - or Isis - or the sectarian violence of Hindus, and Moslems etc. Your wanting to parse this religion is better than that religion - is not relevant.
https://www.dw.co...18136620

Apr 03, 2019
You also have the "christian" nutters that kill abortion doctors - even though the bible has no problems with abortion. When you're insane enough to be seriously involved with any religion, I think it's easy to convince yourself (or be convinced by religious leaders) to commit acts of atrocity.

Apr 03, 2019
Religions are a mind disease. Specifically, a meme- a mind virus.

A person with a religion is carrying a five-kilo bulbous pulsing monster on their back that has its tentacles drilled into their brain.

A person without a religion is like a fish without a bicycle.

Apr 08, 2019
"neither should I be condemned by atheists for believing in the Creator God".

Did a religionist really say others "condemn" them when we note that the universe has no gods, it is now known to be 100 % mechanistic [Planck Legacy Archive]?

Religionists are not "condemned" by facts anymore than astrologers and homeopaths are. But others can opinionate that it shows them to be gullible fools and that they are peddling in falsehoods. That is condemning them, by their own deeds.

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