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Unesco grants Inca Qhapaq Nan road system World Heritage status

The Inca trail linked Cusco, in modern-day Peru, to distant parts of the empire

A road system built by the Inca Empire has been granted World Heritage status by the United Nations cultural agency, Unesco.

The Qhapaq Nan roads go through six South American countries.

It was built in the most diverse terrains, linking communities in the Andes mountains to fertile valleys, rainforests and deserts.

Unesco described the system as an engineering wonder that must be restored and preserved.

The decision was taken in the Qatari capital, Doha, where Unesco‘s World Heritage Committee is gathered to consider the inclusion of 40 cultural and natural sites to the list.

The Andean Road System was built over hundreds of years and was used by the Spanish when they arrived in South America in the 16th Century. It was used mostly for trade and defence.

It covers some 30,000 km (18,600 miles), from modern-day Colombia in the north to Argentina and Chile in the south, via Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Historians believe the Inca trail was used to keep the the Andean city of Machu Picchu supplied

The six South American countries have agreed to work together to preserve the ancient route

Parts of it are still preserved, but most of the route has deteriorated since the Inca Empire was defeated.

“We still cannot see the entire road because a large part of it is covered by vegetation,” said Fernando Astete, chief archaeologist at Peru’s Machu Picchu site told AFP news agency.

The route system used to link the Inca capital, Cusco, to distant areas of the empire.

“The Qhapaq Nan by its sheer scale and quality of the road is a unique achievement of engineering skills. It demonstrates mastery in engineering technology,” Unesco said in a statement.

Unesco says that granting the Qhapaq Nan roads World Heritage status will make them eligible for much-needed restoration funds.

Source: BBCNews

Inca mummies: Child sacrifice victims fed drugs and alcohol

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Tests on the 13-year-old’s hair revealed she was given large amounts of alcohol

Tests on three mummies found in Argentina have shed new light on the Inca practice of child sacrifice.

Scientists have revealed that drugs and alcohol played a key part in the months and weeks leading up to the children’s deaths.

Tests on one of the children, a teenage girl, suggest that she was heavily sedated just before her demise.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr Emma Brown, from the department of archaeological sciences at the University of Bradford, said: “The Spanish chroniclers suggest that children were sacrificed for all kinds of reasons: important life milestones in the lives of the Incas, in times of war or natural disasters, but there was a calendar of rituals too.”

Frozen in time

The mummified remains were discovered in 1999, entombed in a shrine near the summit of the 6,739m-high Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina.

Three children were buried there: a 13-year-old girl, and a younger boy and girl, thought to be about four or five years old.

Their remains date to about 500 years ago, during the time of the Inca empire, which dominated South America until the Europeans arrived at the end of the 15th Century.

“The preservation is phenomenal – they’ve been called the best preserved mummies in the world,” explained Dr Brown.

“These three children look like they are asleep.”

The international team of researchers used forensic tests to analyse the chemicals found in the children’s hair.

They discovered that all three had consumed alcohol and coca leaves (from which cocaine is extracted) in the final months of their lives.

Historical records reveal that these substances were reserved for the elite and often used in Incan rituals.

Death from exposure

An analysis of the teenage girl’s hair, which was longer than the hair of the younger victims, revealed more.

The girl, known as the “Llullaillaco maiden”, was probably considered more highly valued than the younger children, because of her virginal status.

Tests on her long braids revealed that her coca consumption increased sharply a year before her death.

The scientists believe this corresponds to the time she was selected for sacrifice. Earlier research also reveals that her diet changed at this point too, from a potato-based peasant diet to one rich in meat and maize.

Dr Brown explained: “From what we know of the Spanish chronicles, particularly attractive or gifted women were chosen. The Incas actually had someone who went out to find these young women and they were taken from their families.”

The results also revealed that the girl ingested large amounts of alcohol in the last few weeks of her life.

It suggests she was heavily sedated before she and the other children were taken to the volcano, placed in their tombs and left to die.

“In the case of the maiden, there is no sign of violence. She is incredibly well looked after: she has a good layer of fat, she has beautifully groomed hair, beautiful clothes,” said Dr Brown.

“In this case we think with the combination of being placed in the grave with the alcohol and the cold – the mountain is over 6,000m above sea level – she would have passed away quietly.”

The mummies are now housed in the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology in Salta, Argentina.

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Pyramid in Peru torn down by developers

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Officials lodge criminal complaints against two firms after building at El Paraiso, one of Peru’s oldest archaeological sites, destroyed

El Paraiso, the archaeological site some 40km north of Lima where the 20ft pyramid was torn down. Photograph: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Real estate developers using heavy machinery tore down a 20ft (6m) tall pyramid at one of Peru’s oldest archaeological sites, cultural officials have said.

Rafael Varon, deputy minister of cultural patrimony, told reporters on Wednesday that the destruction occurred over the weekend at the ruins of El Paraiso, a few miles north of Peru’s capital, Lima.

He said his agency has lodged criminal complaints against two companies for the damage – identified as Alisol and Provelanz – and has moved to seize the equipment used. People who answered the telephone at both companies said no one was available to comment.

Peru’s tourism ministry says El Paraiso was built some 4,000 years ago and was a religious and administrative centre, long before the rise of the Inca culture encountered by the Spanish conquerors.

Marco Guilen, director of an excavation project at El Paraiso, said the people who tore down the pyramid “have committed irreparable damage to a page of Peruvian history”.

“We are not going to be able to know in what ways it was constructed, what materials were used in it and how the society in that part of the pyramid behaved,” said Guilen.

Varon said people apparently working for the two companies tore down one pyramid and tried to destroy three others, but were stopped by witnesses.

Mayor Freddy Ternero of San Martin de Porres, the town where the ruins are located, said the pyramids were sited in agricultural fields and were not guarded, though he said the minister of the interior sent police to protect it after the incident.

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Peru archaeologists find pre-Inca sacrificed babies

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The bodies were found on the shores of Lake Umayo in Puno province

Researchers at the Sillustani archaeological site in Peru say they have found the bodies of 44 children thought to have been sacrificed between 600 and 700 years ago.

They were buried in pairs in baskets placed around stone funerary towers.

Researchers said their ages ranged from newborns to three years old.

The archaeologists believe they belonged to the Kolla culture, which ruled parts of the Puno region of southern Peru between 1200 and 1450.

All the bodies had a volcanic stone placed on their chest, and were surrounded by a variety of offerings, including animals, food, dishes and pitchers, archaeologist Eduardo Arisaca said.

Researchers at the site say ceramics with paintings of scenes of war found with the bodies suggest the children were sacrificed during a period of conflict between the Kolla and a rival culture.

They said the bodies were found near a 10m-tall (32ft) circular stone tower known as Chullpa Lagarto.

The bodies of some 200 people have been unearthed near the tower at the Sillustani site some 1,300km (800 miles) south-east of the capital, Lima.

Source: BBC News

Chullpa largato (you can see the lizard on the left side)

I know Sillustani well, having traveled there many times when I was a tour guide in Peru. It is often visited by tourists traveling between the airport at Juliaca and Puno; or on day trips from Puno.

Sillustani was not known as a Kolla sacrifice centre, but apparently views are changing.

Just the same as it wasn’t known that the Inca sacrificed humans until the discovery of the “Ice Maiden” near Arequipa in 1996 (?)

So for me this is quite a revelation. To think that I had been walking over this entire area.

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