New Archaeological Findings Reaffirm the Important Role of Women 4,000 Years Ago in Peru
Peruvian legends speak of a lonely and hungry woman who unleashed her fury against the sun. The star was moved by her situation, and ‘fertilized’ her with its rays. Four days later, the woman gave birth to a boy whose birth generated a series of events related to the appearance a new coastal civilization. But the boy awoke the wrath of the Inca god Pachacamac, “creator of the earth” who abducted him to kill him and tear him apart. However, seeing the mother’s grief, Pachacamac buried the boy’s remains and made it so that the burial incited the emergence of various fruits and food. Thus, the mother would not go hungry ever again, somewhat easing her pain.
But he was wrong: the woman wanted revenge, and the Sun, coming to her aid, created another demigod with the navel and umbilical cord of her child. This being was Vichama, who decided to travel the world when he grew up. When he returned, he looked for his mother, but he could not find her because Pachacamac had killed her. The god, upon learning of the return of the traveler, decided to dive into the depths of the ocean waters, where a temple now stands, and remained there forever.
The Vichama myth lives on in Peru, specifically in the area of Végueta (Huaura, Lima), where one can find the remains of an ancient agro-fishing town named after the demigod. The town was built during the Late Archaic period (3000 -1800 BC) and its residents maintained a close and fruitful relationship with Caral, the first Andean civilization.
Now, as reported in the pages of the Peruvian newspaper La Republica , a team of archaeologists led by Ruth Shady have found offerings from 3,800 years ago in this fascinating archaeological site. These artifacts confirm the power and importance of woman in the Caral civilization, considered the oldest in the Americas.
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Three anthropomorphic figurines measuring about 21 centimeters (8.27 inches) tall were found in the ‘Las Hornacinas’ building, one of the ten buildings erected by the Vichamas. According to the research, these figurines represent high-ranking people.
The first corresponds to a naked man with mustard-colored hair and a white painted face and body, wearing a double-beaded necklace. The second figurine corresponds to a woman with red hair, also naked, who is squatting. Finally, the third is the largest and therefore corresponds to the most important character: this figure is standing, wearing a necklace of red and black round beads. Its position, adornments, and the fact that it is polydactyl (it has 28 fingers) suggest that it was a priestess or shaman.
Infographic showing the new findings in the ancient Peruvian town of Vichama. ( La República )
"This is the same character found in Supe Valley, at the archaeological site of Miraya in the latter part of the development of this civilization (Caral). The other two characters appear to be political authorities - based on the earrings and other elements associated with them" Ruth Shady, the director of the archaeological site of Caral (ZAC) , explained to La Republica.
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Female elements also characterize the offerings found in the building of Los Depositos. The old settlers placed two female heads modeled in unbaked clay on the floor of a rectangular enclosure. These heads were wrapped in a fabric with colorful feathers.
The two female heads modeled in unbaked clay. ( Vichama /Zona Caral/ Government of Peru )
Finally, it should be noted that the evidence obtained so far suggests the settlement in Vichama survived the climate change that crossed the Earth between the years 1800 and 1850 BC - unlike the people of Caral. "As both an agricultural and fishing civilization, it knew how to took advantage of the resources in a way to adequately resurrect its economy," archaeologist Pedro Vargas said .
Top Image: Photograph of part of the archaeological complex in Vichama, Peru. ( La República/EFE )
This article was first published in Spanish at https://www.ancient-origins.es and has been translated with permission.