Discovering Peru’s Earliest Cities

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In the Footsteps of Taytacha
In the Footsteps of Taytacha follows a group of Quechua-speaking musicians and dancers as they leave their remote villages high in the Andes Mountains of Peru and join thousands of other highlanders on the annual religious pilgrimage to the sacred peaks of Qoyllur-Riti. Quollur-Riti, the largest and most important religious…
South America’s First People
The earliest evidence of humans in the Americas comes not from North America, but from Chile. Investigate the important Monte Verde site and its view into everyday life 15,000 years ago. Learn also about "Quilcas" cave art, the astonishing Chinchorro mummies--predating Egypt's-- and evidence of early agriculture and trade at…
South America's Lost Cradle of Civilization
Consider the remarkable evidence for South America as one of the true wellsprings of human civilization. Grasp the diversity of early South American cultures, from the Andean civilizations to the desert and Amazon regions; what these cultures shared; and their extraordinary innovations in agriculture, architecture, handcrafts, social organization, and religion.
Children's Magical Death
Part of the Series: Yanomamo Collection
Pretending to be shamans, a group of young boys imitates their fathers, blowing ashes into each other's noses and chanting to the hekura spirits. Filmmaker: Timothy Asch, Napoleon Chagnon
Kiarãsâ Yõ Sâty, The Agouti's Peanut
This video examines the everyday work and recreation of the Panara people, who blend their traditional ways with the influences of official Brazilan culture. Lighthearted and compelling, it encourages viewers to question the dichotomy of tradition versus modernity. The Panara hunt with both guns and arrows; boys play soccer and…
Via Dolorosa (The Sorrowful Way)
Every year, in the colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala, the "sorrowful way" of Good Friday is recreated by a path of colored sawdust and flower petals. Along this road several hundred people take turns carrying a ponderous mahoganybier. Indians from the surrounding countryside come to observe the spectacle of townspeople…
Ceramics, Textiles, and Organized States
Observe pivotal changes in northern Peruvian societies in 1800-900 B.C., such as the architectural styles of the southern and northern valleys, which indicate the rise of a state identity. Note the area's earliest evidence of metallurgy and weaving, and stone sculptures reflecting the first warlike violence seen in South America.
Chavín and the Rise of Religious Authority
The Peruvian site of Chavin marks the emergence of religion as the focus of public art. Study Chavin's distinctive architecture, with images of its characteristic "fanged deity." Learn about later religious iconography and artifacts at Chavin suggesting that it was the center of a cult that spread to other sites…
Cupisnique to Salinar—Elite Rulers and War
With the waning of Chavin's culture, striking new elements appear in the region's archaeological record. Here, encounter the Salinar culture, a new settlement pattern showing no ceremonial architecture and the first "elite" housing. Examine the evidence of defensive citadels and what may have triggered warfare and emerging social hierarchy.
Paracas—Mummies, Shamans, and Severed Heads
Investigate the fascinating Paracas tombs of the 1st millennium B.C., which contain richly adorned mummies, and grasp the significance of mummification. Study the elaborate iconography of Paracas textiles, the meaning of the supernatural beings they depict, and the practice of head hunting as a means to control the spirits of…
The Nazca Lines and Underground Channels
The Nazca are yet another South American people of striking accomplishments. Learn about their remarkable irrigation system of underground aquifers, aqueducts, and wells, and their fine polychrome pottery and textiles. Penetrate the mystery of the "Nazca Lines," massive geoglyphs scratched into the earth, which may be the result of ritual…
The Moche—Pyramids, Gold, and Warriors
In the first of three episodes on the Andean Moche culture, chart this civilization's outstanding features. Discover the immense pyramids, adorned with brilliant color murals, road systems, and sophisticated art. Examine the evidence of extensive warfare, both in the art and in excavated weaponry and sacrificial victims.