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22 May 2014
Ancient mound complex found in Peru

The Paracas culture existed from around 800 to 100 BCE. Recent archaeological research on the south coast of Peru has revealed a Late Paracas mound complex in the middle Chincha Valley, consisting of lines of rocks, circular rock features, ceremonial mounds, and settlements. The lines converge on mounds and habitation sites to form discrete clusters, and these clusters contain a number of paired line segments and at least two U-shaped structures that would have framed the sunset at the winter solstice.
     Excavated pottery and radiocarbon dating from three of the mounds suggest they were built around 400 to 100 BCE - predating the Nazca lines to the south by several centuries.
     Researchers mapped 71 lines in an area of 40 square kilometres. The lines are about 20 kilometres from the coast, midway between coastal and highland settlements. Their new study suggests the lines - some of which stretch for more than 3 kilometres - may have pointed to the sites of trade fairs.
     The Paracas culture seems to have collapsed around 100 BCE, while the Nazca flourished from about 100 to 600 CE. According to study co-author Charles Stanish of the University of California, Los Angeles, this makes connecting the use of geoglyphs between the two cultures 'a tough question'.
     Environmental historian Ingmar Unkel of Germany's Kiel University points to other studies showing more of an overlap in dating between the Paracas and early Nazca lines, adding that "The leaders of all ancient societies that I know have put their efforts on predicting the arrival of the rain. I would assume that the determination of the summer solstice would be of higher importance, announcing the arrival of new water", concluding that a technology called luminescence dating may settle the age of the Paracas lines once and for all.

Edited from National Geograpgic News (5 May 2014), PhySorg (6 May 2014)

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