For more than a century and a half, scientists and tourists have visited the mounds shaped like animals like Mount Serpent in Ohio, created by the indigenous people of North America. But now they have been found by the professor of Anthropology Robert Benfer, mounds with effigies of animals in South America, who identified numerous land animals emerging over the coastal plains of Peru, a region already renowned for the Nazca lines, the ruined city of Chan Chan and other cultural treasures.
“The mounds will attract tourists one day”Says Benfer. "Some of them are more than 4,000 years old. Compared to those erected in North America, dating from between 400 and 1200 BC. The oldest Peruvian mounds were built at the same time as the pyramids of Egypt”.
Benfer identified the mounds that measure from 5 meters to 400 meters along each of the six valleys studied on the coast of Peru. The mounds are pre-ceramic and were probably built using woven baskets to carry and stacking rocks and dirt.
Like the Nazca lines, which includes a series of giant aminals drawn on the ground to the south, the animal mounds are best seen from a high point of view. Google Earth images of the mounds reveal bird shapes, including a giant condor, a 5000-year-old killer whale, a duck and an alligator-cougar monster seen in the bones and rock remains in the area.
“The discovery of animal mounds where there were not before changes our conception of Peruvian prehistory”, says Benfer. “It probably represents the Andean zodiac, which is a new discovery. A controversial interpretation that the Nazca figures are zodiacal representations is supported by these mounds”.
Benfer suggests that the structures could have been built as earthly manifestations of the constellations that the ancient Peruvians saw in the celestial vault. The mounds would not only represent the stars, but they would be aligned with them. Without going any further, Benfer has found astronomical orientations in each giant mound.
For example, in the Chillon Valley, a mud condor with coal eyes lines up with the Milky Way view from a nearby temple. The mound of the alligator-cougar monster is aligned with the summer solstice in June when viewed from the same temple.
According to Benfer, the astronomical priests could have built the mounds and later make your observations of the sky and make offerings to the Earth from the clay creatures. For the ancients, have a celestial calendar it allowed farmers and fishermen to prepare for the coming year.
“For example, knowing that December 21 had passed was very important. If there was no sign of El Nino by then, the fishermen knew they were going to have another good year, and the farmers knew they were not going to have droughts or floods.”Says Benfer.
Previously, the only mounds erected in South America were some places in the andes, but Benfer found that it could have simply been the beginning. “In this fieldwork session, I have found more giant mounds and some smaller ones. I will be back in June and July to identify more”Says Benfer.
Although they appear to be abundant, researchers have overlooked the effigies of animals from the earliest days of scientific archeology in Peru.
“He had always noticed that there was a very large structure just north of Lima that looked like a bird. But since supposedly there were no mounds with giant animals erected in South America, I thought it couldn't be one”Says Benfer.
Two years later, while studying satellite images of archaeological sites, Benfer observed what could be teeth in one of the mounds north of Lima. The irregular tooth structures had been mistaken for irrigation canals. But after an on-the-spot inspection of the area, he realized that he was over the alligator-cougar monster of Chillon Valley. He soon found the nearby condor and identified many other animals.
The results of Benfer's work were posted on Antiquity. The Curtis and Mary G. Brennan Foundation supported the work as well as the University of Missouri research board. The Museum of Anthropology and Pre-Columbian Agriculture of the National Agrarian University of Peru contributed their laboratories and technical support. The work team of Bernardino Ojeda, Omar Ventocilla, Andrés Ocas and Lucio Laura produced valuable maps and observations.
Although retired, Benfer continues with field research in Peru and Mexico. His work today focuses on the intersection between astronomy and archeology, particularly in the relationship between celestial events and religious structures.
With a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was a child I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.