Magazine article USA TODAY

Agricultural Activity Dependent on Ancient Markers

Magazine article USA TODAY

Agricultural Activity Dependent on Ancient Markers

Article excerpt

In one of the most significant archaeological and anthropological finds in recent history, Robert Benfer, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Missouri, Columbia, has discovered the earliest astronomical alignments and sculptures in the round, which is a sculpture designed to be viewed from many directions and angles. The Temple of the Fox--an ancient structure in Buena Vista, Peru's Chillon Valley that dates back to 2200 B.C.--contains sculptures of unprecedented artistic style that can be associated with the agricultural calendar and Andean myth.

"The Temple of the Fox is 1,000 years older than anything of its kind found before," states Benfer. "It's also significant because it suggests people organized their lives around Andean constellations and provides evidence of the beginning of floodplain agriculture."

In temples such as the one Benfer uncovered, the An deans constructed offering chambers, used them for ceremonies, and then built new chambers above the old. Benfer says this protected the Buena Vista site from looters, who came within one inch of the musician statuary while searching for gold and silver in the ancient temple. The well-served offering chamber holds ancient pieces of cotton and burned twigs, and Benfer's team used the twigs to radiocarbon date the various components of the excavation site.

At the entrance to the Temple of the Fox, Benfer unearthed a mural of a fox incised inside a painted llama. …

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