The four part of the Earth

  • Giulio Magli

Humans were present on the South American continent, in Chile and Peru in particular, at least from the 10th millennium BC, and, according to some scholars, possibly earlier. The extremely complex history of the civilizations of the Andes is usually divided into seven periods, each of them very ramified, given the complexity of the geographical borders due to the particular conformation of the territory with its series of adjacent flooding valleys separated by desert zones (Mosley 2001).

The oldest monumental centers that we know of date approximately from the year 2000 BC, among them El Paraiso and Cerro Sechin. The typical structure of these centers, which will remain unchanged through the centuries, is composed of a large truncated pyramid overlooking a court of other buildings, laid in a U-shape. Often the central square of the court is lower than the common ground, but sometimes there is a lower zone in the center of the platform. The meaning of this element, which needed to be accurately planned and built in order to avoid water stagnation, is not clear yet. Another mysterious characteristic common to many centers is the fact that they have been willingly abandoned and destroyed, as in the case of Cerro Sechin, for instance, which disappeared around the year 900 BC.

During the period between the tenth and the second centuries BC, Chavin de Huantar became the most important center, where quite a unique building today called Castillo, was built as a place for oracular pilgrimage, apparently similar to those of the classic world, and used for many centuries (Rick 2007). In the inner part of the temple, which has a cross-like plan, there is a thing generally known as the “oracle.” It is a large monolith in the shape of a knife with a scary face carved on it, placed at the end of a subterranean corridor. A series of ducts and pipelines apparently generated sounds and adequate atmospheres to make even more believable the oracle's “opinions,” as the oracle could talk by the means of a priest through a trapdoor in the ceiling.


Celestial Body Stone Block Celestial Object South American Continent Spanish Conquest 


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© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giulio Magli

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