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24 May 2011
Oldest 3-D statue in the Americas

A 4000-year-old statue in Peru gives new insight into an ancient agricultural society. Robert Benfer, a professor emeritus of anthropology, said the mud plaster bust of a figure blowing a trumpet, and another mask-like image flanked by foxes, were found at the Buena Vista site in the Andes Mountains, about 30 miles north of the capital, Lima. Radiocarbon dating indicates the bust was created around 2000 BCE, making it the oldest 3-dimensional statue found in the Americas.
     On the 4000-year-old statue, it appears that the horn player is announcing the priests when they enter the Temple of the Menacing Disk. On the left, the female foxes around the mask-like central figure face the June solstice sunset with two eyes shaped like the moon. On the right, the male fox has one eye shaped like the sun, looking to the rising sun of the December solstice.
     The Andeans had their own Zodiac signs, and the constellation of the fox is still associated with the timing of agricultural events such as planting and irrigation, says Benfer. "Anthropologists think that many of our beliefs today stem from ancient beliefs, but only occasionally can these beliefs be confirmed."
     The paper 'Ancient South American Cosmology: Four Thousand Years of the Myth of the Fox,' was co-authored with Louanna Furbee, a MU professor emeritus of Linguistic Anthropology, and Hugo Ludeña, of the National University of Federico Villarreal of Peru. It is being published in the upcoming edition of the Journal of Cosmology.

Edited from University of Missouri, USA (19 May 2011)

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