Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High (and Low) in Peru, Year 2: Archaeolog...

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High (and Low) in Peru, Year 2: Archaeolog...: Getting High (and Low) in Peru, Year 2. Visiting Nasca (Lines), Ica, Paracas, and Ayacucho Nasca Lines: Astronaut or Owl Man? ...

Getting High (and Low) in Peru, Year 2: Archaeological Adventures

Getting High (and Low) in Peru, Year 2.
Visiting Nasca (Lines), Ica, Paracas, and Ayacucho

Nasca Lines: Astronaut or Owl Man?

            Sunday afternoon, October 12, we returned from a 10-day trip to Nasca, Ica, Paracas, and ending in Ayacucho. We began at the Pacific coast, our low. As last year, the focus was on the archaeology of Peru, both pre-Inca and Inca. But, I also flew over the Nasca lines (yes, I know, this too was archaeology related), took a boat to the Islas Ballestas (Ballestas Islands) sometimes nicknamed the ‘poor man’s Galapagos,’ and we went to Huacachina, an oasis in the desert where we had an exciting dune buggy ride and went sandboarding. 

The islands

While staying in Ica, our hotel also was a bodega making Pisco and wine (we sampled, of course). We hired a taxi and visited a couple of other nearby bodegas sampling their Pisco and wine as well. 
Our hotel's bodega

Tacama's bodega

A few miles outside of Ica and in the desert is the Chauchilla Cemetery. What makes this site unique is not just that the burials date back one thousand years, but you see 1000s of holes dug by huaqueros, grave robbers digging for burial goods and scattering the bones of the formerly buried individuals. The site is now protected, and you are able to see dozens of mummified burial bundles; however, human bones continue to be scattered about this huge site. If you watch for tracks, you will find that foxes continue to visit as well. 

Lastly, we ascended back up into the Andes and spent 3 complete days in Huamanga, better known to us as Ayacucho. These last 3 days were dedicated to learning more about the Wari and Inca cultures, and I was not disappointed (well, maybe a little bit, but I explain below). South of Ayacucho, we visited one Inca site only recently being excavated, and I truly believe that if the Inca could return, they would reoccupy Pomacocha, a site without the 1000s of daily visitors as at Machu Picchu. Even their ‘bano’ (bathing area) continues to function. 

Pomacocha's Bano

Further south of Pomacocha is Vilcashuaman believed to have been a regional center for the Inca once they expanded north from Cusco. It too does not have many visitors since the dirt road and the numerous switchbacks entail an average of 15 mph for several hours. This site is unique since it has a pyramid-shaped temple and the nearby Catholic Church is built over a vast Inca platform.
The pyramid

The basalt 'throne' said to hold the Inca and his sister wife--once gilded with gold

Plaza: Inca statue with church on Inca platform in back

Basalt 'sacrificial' stone right with local women left

Inca Platform with Catholic Church on top. Another basalt throne in foreground

This girl was snacking inside the sacrificial stone. I did ask her mother for permission.
On our final day in Ayacucho, we visited the Wari Capital city of “Wari” just a few miles north of Ayacucho. Since we visited (and I reported on) Cerro Baul, the southern extent of the Wari Empire, I wanted to come to their HQ. The museum was small but informative, but the site itself was not visitor friendly. The extensive barbed wire and even “no photography” signs on the site (?) told me that they really do not welcome visitors. Too bad. 
Wari: Templo 'D'

            I plan to show and explain more on the specific sites in the near future on this blog site.
Idea for the 'crystal' skull Indy Jones movie?

Trophy Skulls

Burial Bundle

Ceramic bowl

            The museums and the staff at the various sites were cooperative once I explained that I am an archaeologist researching the Wari, for example. I will credit them on my future blogs. Without their cooperation, it would be very difficult to make sense of the pre-Spanish cultures. I was able to photograph dozens of mummy bundles, and dozens of skulls including the deformed ones that may have led to the Indiana Jones movie number 4 with the crystal skulls—a very historically inaccurate movie. (I have a better plot for Steven Spielberg.) In the museums I was able to photograph dozens of ceramics from the various cultures. Ceramic typology is a very important dating tool.  Paz.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru, Year 2: The Wari, Lords of t...

Neal Bierling, Archaeological Adventures: Getting High in Peru, Year 2: The Wari, Lords of t...: The Wari: Lords of the Andes long before the Inca. Getting Close to the Mountain God (Apu) Picchu Picchu Moquegua: Poster at the M...

Getting High in Peru, Year 2: The Wari, Lords of the Andes

The Wari: Lords of the Andes long before the Inca.
Getting Close to the Mountain God (Apu) Picchu Picchu
Moquegua: Poster at the Museum

Sign at the Site

            We descended from Arequipa at 8000 feet down to Moquegua at 4731 feet. Moquegua is fairly close to Chile’s border and Peru’s south Pacific coast. It is located in the Rio Torata river valley, and our goal was to visit a Wari (or Huari) archaeological site that has been featured in National Geographic, Archaeology magazine, the PNAS* journal, and other archaeological publications. Moquegua is well worth a visit for things other than archaeology. Check it out. The site, Cerro Baul, is located 20km from our hotel so we hired a taxi to take us there, wait there at least 3 hours and then bring us back. Since he (Socrates) had not been there before, he stated that he wanted to climb up with us. We bought him a bottle of water and we were on our way.
Our taxi driver Socrates. He was all covered up the entire trek.
Approaching the site. We will climb on the opposite side

Climbing, Note the switchbacks above and below

            Note from the pictures that the mesa on which Cerro Baul sits is impressive. I have already read of it being compared to Ancient Israel’s Masada of 2000 years ago (the co-director, Patrick Ryan Williams, of the site makes this mention.). Wari history here is very different and does not begin until approximately AD 600. The mesa is isolated on all sides, as at Masada, and the Snake Path up Cerro Baul compares in part to Masada’s Snake Path. Cerro Baul had no defensive walls and all water had to be carried up since there was no water channel carrying water to the site or to cisterns. All supplies, other than rock used for building construction, had to be carried to the top of the mesa. 

All supplies needed to be carried up

            It appears that the Wari were in Northern Peru in the Ayacucho valley already by AD 500 and then expanded their influence developing an empire in the high Andes north and south to Lake Titicaca, which was controlled by the Tiwanaku. The Tiwanaku, who lived south of the lake already in 200 BC (or earlier), spread their empire south from Lake Titicaca in what is now Bolivia. According to the Tiwanaku, it was from Lake Titicaca where the creator emerged to create the first people. The National Geographic (Jun 2002, p.109) makes what I consider to be an innocuous statement that “Both the Wari and Tiwanaku used the power of religion to control their realm.” Duh! Using religion to control people happened before and after the Wari and Tiwanaku AND into the present (eg US 2003 invasion of Iraq, ISIL today, etc.). “For God and country (and his son,) the King” is an ancient concept. Remember Egypt or Ancient Israel? That this concept was used by the Wari or Tiwanaku, or the Inca is nothing new.
Both the Wari and the Tiwanaku were at their peak of power and influence from AD 600 -1000. The Wari expanded approximately 800-1000 miles north to south but remained centered in the Ayacucho area in Wari just seven miles distant from Ayacucho and 600km north of Cerro Baul. Wari, at its height, may have had a population of 70,000. Tiwanaku, as its capital city is known, at its height may have had a population of 60,000. In contrast, the population of Cerro Baul was less than 1000. The much later Inca claimed a “spiritual” relatedness with the Tiwanaku and that they, the Inca, had moved from Lake Titicaca around AD 1200 to Cusco. Extensive drought in the 12th century may have ended both the Tiwanaku and Wari empires. In the north, the Chimu succeeded the Wari, and four centuries later, the Inca succeeded the Chimu to grow an empire spreading out from the Sacred Valley due to its sufficient water resources succeeding also both the Wari and Tiwanaku empires. Note that neither the Wari nor the Tiwanaku nor the Inca (4 centuries later) had a writing system, so how did they administer their empire and keep records?
One clue is the khipu. It is a stringed device (few Wari examples exist) that may have been used to keep records involving numbers. It has a primary string from which other cords dangle. Some of these cords have supplementary cords in different colors dangling from them. The example I studied actually did not come from an excavation but is in someone’s private collection (owner unnamed); therefore I’m cautious of saying more until I check out additional sources for Wari examples. So, a future date to continue talk of the khipu. The Incas also used the khipu and there are excavated Inca examples that I plan to use in the near future.  
            Based on the recovered artifacts, the excavators suggest that Cerro Baul was where the Wari and the Tiwanaku did meet and gather in peace. No artifacts or skeletal remains relating to battles, and with only one exception, no structures were destroyed or fired. The one exception will be explained below. The site is some distance west of Lake Titicaca (HQ for the Tiwanaku) in southern Peru, a 4-hour bus ride south from Arequipa. According to co-director Williams and his colleagues, Cerro Baul was the southern extent of the Wari Empire. As mentioned above, Cerro Baul, had no defensive walls. It was not constructed as a fortress nor did they have a water source or canal on the mesa top.
            The excavators believe that Cerro Baul was an agrarian reclamation project utilizing the upper river valley. To give credit where credit is due (the PNAS and the Archaeology articles), it is clear that they carefully excavated the site and conducted surveys and additional excavation in the surrounding area utilizing several scientific aspects. Besides utilizing radiocarbon dating, the Cerro Baul Project conducted an extensive hydrological examination of the Rio Torata and Rio Moquegua area and were able to differentiate between the shorter and lower in elevation canals of the Tiwanaku to the longer and higher in elevation (above 8600 feet) canals of the Wari whereby they were able to reclaim more land for agrarian pursuits. The Wari water channel was 20km in length and was able to handle the flow of 400 liters of water per second. They grew maize and potatoes, and other products including Schinus molle, small seeds of a Peruvian pepper tree used in brewing chicha.    
            The taxi driver Socrates took us from Moquegua’s Plaza, 1425m (4731 feet) up to the base of Cerro Baul, 2222m (7377 feet). As we started up, I looked at the switchbacks and knew that this was going to be a challenge at about the halfway point. The ascent was not too difficult taking one hour. The descent, with switchbacks, the loose gravel, often on the cliff side, included some butt slides. The descent also took one hour.   

First signs of offerings above and below

            On the way up, there were signs of offerings left on the trail. Most common were cigarettes, coca leaves, and candy. Then at 2500m (8300 feet), there was a small cave, whose walls were blackened with soot and candle wax. On the flattened cave floor (and outside the cave on the trail) were numerous offerings, again coca leaves and the usual assortment. In addition, there were large sums of money both soles (paper and coin) and Ben Franklin US $100 bills. I have included pictures of some of these offerings. According to the Cerro Baul book I purchased at the museum in Moquegua, these offerings are called “pagos” a payment to the gods, in this case the mountain god (apu) of the distant Mt. Picchu Picchu (meaning Summit Summit or Peak Peak) here in Arequipa. These offerings continue a 1500-year tradition at this site. Shamans and others come up here regularly, and this was quite clear once we reached the summit. 

The Cave with its offerings above and below

Real Soles and Dollars?

When you finally reach the summit at 2576m (8552 feet) and glance around, you will not only see signs that people camp up here but 100s of rock-built niches or offering tables on which offerings (pagos) were made. Some of the rectangular scratches in the dirt surrounding the votive offerings are said to indicate fields, houses or farms. Evidently, the more recent suppliants have prayed to the Picchu Picchu god (apu) for preservation of their fields, house, or farm. Some were quite elaborate stone constructions, but usually they were simple as the “Juan” example shown. The Juan example utilized a modern ceramic incense offering form. I saw numerous broken examples of these as soon as I reached the summit and the crosses. I realized immediately that these were modern ceramic sherds and not the ancient Wari sherds. (All too often I saw glass liquor and wine bottles left behind at the offering sites. Too many guests/worshippers are not packing out what they carried up.) At the summit, it is impossible to miss the two crosses and once you reach the crosses you notice that they are surrounded with numerous “pagos.” Religious syncretism is the word for this.

They are almost at the summit. Mt. Picchu Picchu was visible to the north on some shots.

The crosses below which are offerings

The "Juan" offering

I used the book, entitled Cerro Baul, purchased at the museum in Moquegua to find the temples, brewery, and other structures. At the summit, I noticed that this was a one-period site dominated by ruined building walls with bedrock close below. According to the excavators, it was a long single-period dating approximately to AD 600-1000 +/-. Archaeological work here in Peru is fairly recent, since the 1980s primarily.
I remember at one site in the Middle East where I supervised, the ceramicist “expert” (of the Roman Period) was officially dating all of our earlier Iron II Period pottery (10th -7th c. BC), which my crews were excavating, to a 400-hundred year period. Yet, my colleague and I were able to date the sherds easily to a specific century. This well-seasoned colleague and I protested. When the excavation ended, the director announced that he would not be digging for the following season in order to re-examine all the excavated pottery to refine its dates. The two of us were not invited back, but it is an important site, and we were confident that we had sufficient ceramics to tighten its chronology to specific centuries. Such is not the case yet in Peru. More excavation needs to happen for a better pottery typology and chronology.   
The museum’s book allowed me to find the brewery, which is highlighted in every published article. My name is “Bierling,” and “bier” is the Dutch and German word for beer. My son operates the Bier Barrel Distillery (he brews beer before distilling it), so while on the summit I hunted for the Wari brewery. It is no longer preserved as in the published photos. Sometimes after we clean and photograph an area, we backfill somewhat to preserve the ruins, which may have happened in the brewery. One picture in the museum’s book shows the excavation in its beginning stages, and my pictures years later look similar to that excavation stage. 
The Brewery today

Museum Model of the Brewery. My onsite shots are from upper left shooting right. 

Brewery: Left is where brewed, middle is fermentation room, right where the grain was milled.
Museum Model: Brewery, left (colored), Temple D (shaped as a D) center & colored
Museum Model: Brewing room top, fermentation room middle, and milling room bottom
Grinding/Mill stone now broken

Pot Sherds still are scattered about

The brewery complex (approximately 2500 sq. feet) has a milling room, a fermentation room (a 3 to 5 day process), and a boiling room. The milling room contained grinders to break up the kernels of corn. The clean published shots of the boiling room show obvious signs of fire to bring the brew in the large ceramic vats (pithoi, large jars) to a boil. There are twelve burned spots for twelve large jars, each one holding about 150 liters (39.5 gallons), which totals 1800 liters or 474 gallons of brew per batch. That’s a lot of Wari pints. The clean published shots show quantities of sherds littering the floor. Every jar and drinking cup was shattered. The mugs are called keros where the smaller ones held 12 oz. of brew and the largest ones held 64 oz. of the Wari Apu Special (my name for the brew) in keros with their deity depicted on its side.
The archaeologists believe that the potent chicha was used to placate the area leaders, including the Tiwanaku. Invite them all up to sample the latest apu brew accompanied with some coca perhaps or other, and everyone becomes relaxed and when you go home (5-7 days later?) you go home with happy thoughts about the Wari leaders.
From excavations at various Wari sites around Ayacucho, archaeologists had posited a different perspective of the Wari as a warlike people not unknown to use ritual executions and keeping the heads as trophies. Even the “Front-Faced” god on the large keros drinking mugs when pictured on other ceramic forms sometimes show a fierce god with a head or a prisoner in his hands. 
According to Williams and his wife Nash, a different picture emerges at Cerro Baul (Arch. Jan/Feb 2010, 42-43). They have examined the skeletal remains of 1000s of Tiwanaku in the surrounding area, none of whom died a violent death.
So, here is their scenario for the final party held at the Cerro Baul Brewery. It is posited that each leader had his own distinctive keros drinking mug so there were at least 28 leaders and 474 gallons of a fresh brew. Once they finished, perhaps a week later, they toasted perhaps each other, Picchu Picchu (the apu), and then smashed the keros on the brewery floor. They burned the brewery and abandoned Cerro Baul. At least 28 distinctive keros vessels were recovered in the brewery and conserved; therefore, the mention of 28 leaders. The empires, both the Tiwanaku and the Wari, faded from history and four centuries later the Inca arrived to fill the void and to build a new empire.    
I was able to find the D-shaped temples, the other temples, the palace, the plazas, but it is the D-shaped ones that are rare outside the Ayacucho-Wari area. Again, they were in poor shape when compared to the published clean pictures, but the doorway and the low walls remain visible. The former plazas quite often were filled with stones used to construct the pagos of the shamans and others.
Since the archaeological team did not just excavate the mesa top of Cerro Baul, but the slopes and the settlements in the surrounding area, they believe, based on the quantity and quality of the recovered artifacts, that it was the elite Wari who lived up on site. The empire support staff, the farmers, and the others lived below. The 20km Wari water canal supplied three of these settlements. Downstream, the Tiwanaku also had a brewery, but smaller in size than the Wari one up on Cerro Baul. 

Temple D with entrance upper left

Temple D with me shooting from the entrance
Another temple with plaza in foreground

Temple View with interior rooms

This rock is said to be part of the Arundane Temple and its long axis is said to point to the Apu Arundane. 

For me, it would have been a pleasure to have been here when the team was excavating and to see and to handle the artifacts of both cultures and how the elite Wari lived up on the site and how their lives differed from the empire support staff below. However, I was excavating in the Middle East while they were doing their fascinating work on these pre-Inca empires at Cerro Baul.
The museum in Moquegua is an excellent one but too limited in scope. They were kind enough to allow me to take general shots in the rooms (no close ups of artifacts), and they did allow me to photograph the model of Cerro Baul and the chronology wall chart.  

Chronological Chart showing the Wari and how they relate to other cultures

The model and other displays

A Wari holding his drinking mug

*PNAS is the scholarly journal entitled Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I used their November 29, 2005 issue which has an article entitled: “Burning down the brewery: Establishing and evacuating an ancient imperial colony at Cerro Baul, Peru.” It was written by Michael E. Mosely, Donna J. Nash, Patrick Ryan Williams, et al.
The Wari and the Tiwanaku settled below

A final shot as we left.