Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Earliest Americans-Sechin Bajo

The Sechin complex of three sites: Sechin Alto and Cerro Sechin, south of the Sechin River, and (red arrow) Sechin Bajo north of the river—all sites make up the complex known as Sechin within the Casma Valley 
   About 150 miles north of Caral lies a newly discovered site referred to as Sechin complex, located in the Casma Valley, 229 miles north of Lima, on the northwest coast of Peru. It is believed to have been occupied between approximately 1800 and 900 B.C. The complex preceded the much better known site of Chavín de Huántar by nearly a thousands years and is remarkable for its enormous mound, the largest of its time period, measuring some 990 feet long, 825 feet wide, by 145 feet tall (14 stories)—it was with granite blocks, some weighing over two tons.
Sechin Bajo, an archaeological site within the Sechin complex and considered to be one of the oldest structures in the Western Hemisphere
    The site called Sechin Alto, includes Sechin Bajo, Taukachi-Konkan and Cerro Sechin, three separate sites in this ancient complex, existed over about a thousand year span. It was a vast proto-urban settlement several miles in diameter, centered on the large mound of Sechin Alto, and the entire complex is thought to have at one time formed a four square mile continuous settlement, which occupied land on both sides of the Sechin River.
    Discovered by a team from the Latin American Institute at the Freie University in Berlin, under the auspices of Professor Peter R. Fuchs, Director of the German-Peruvian archaeological project, it also had sunken circular plazas and considered to be a key anchor point for cultural development, and a 328-foot high pyramid, equivalent to a building 32 stories tall.
Example of current 32-story buildings: L to R: Barclays 32-story building in Brooklyn; Adams 32-story Building in New York; Ocean III 32-story Building in Miami; Walter Street 32-story Building in Financial District of Manhattan
    “Whoever built Sechin Bajo had advanced knowledge of architecture and construction,” Dr. Fuchs stated, “which is clearly seen in the handling given to the materials so that the buildings would be consistent. The scientist also stated that the original plaza served for meetings and socializing, with adjacent buildings, large structures with various patios, curved corners and niched walls. The prime material at the site was stone transported from nearby hills.
    According to Jesus Briceno, scientific adviser to the project, “It was also surprising to archaeologists to find a large relief on one of the walls that combined two basic elements of Andean religious belief—a feline and serpent—which were previously thought to have derived from a far more recent period.
    "We found other details of architecture below the site, which could be even older," declared one of the German archaeologists to the news agency of Reuters. "There are four or five deeper places downward, which means that the structure was reconstructed several times, maybe every 100 or 300 years.” Beneath the original complex of Sechin Bajo they found a much older, circular structure, built of stones and adobe bricks, which is believed to have been a social and religious gathering area.  
    Inhabited for much of the second millennium B.C., Sechin has been the most intensively studied site in the region. It covers roughly 164,000 square feet and consists of a quadrangular three-tiered stepped platform flanked on each side by two smaller buildings. The platform was constructed in several stages using conical adobes, or large sun-dried bricks with broad circular bases and tapered points, which were then set into clay mortar and plastered over to form wall surfaces
Top Left: The newly found circular site at Sechin; Top Right: Walls encircling the site were uncovered; Bottom: The retaining wall of Cerro Sechin is 13 ½ feet tall and contains nearly 400 granite sculptures and encircled the site’s perimeter
    Carbon dating shows it is one of the oldest structures ever found in the Americas, and, according to archaeologist Jonathan Haas of the Field Museum in Chicago, “it was a time when the Andes became a distinct, an uninterrupted cultural chain going through the central coast in an unbroken fashion all the way up to the Inca period.” Stated differently, it was a high culture beginning of a civilization that spread throughout Peru. As Haas went on to say, “Finding a plaza in that region isn't that surprising, but the 5,500-year age estimate could simply be the oldest in a range of possible dates given by carbon-dating techniques. The main issue has to do with what are the actual dates on the structure." He added with emphasis, "The key point is whether this is pre-3,000 BC—I don't think that has been shown."
Left: Jonathan Haas; Right: Haas at the site with other researchers taking field pictures
    Again, stated differently, the carbon dating (radiocarbon dating) is not so definitive though many consider it to be. Such dating into these early B.C. periods are fraught with error and often misleading.
    The main issue Haas insisted, has to do with “what are the actual dates on the structure. The key point is whether this is pre-3,000 BC—I don't think that has been shown."
Despite radiocarbon dating controversies among the experts, the site is among the oldest ruined cities in the country and inarguably much older than those in Mesoamerica, predating the Olmec, and showing a very advanced culture all along the Peruvian coast and inland areas
    Archaeologists are particularly excited by the site of Sechin because if its cultural independence from all other developments around the world. It is thought that civilizations develop around sources of surplus, such as excellent land, fine waterways or the like. Mounds of fish bones point to the importance of the rich fishing grounds in the Humboldt current as the source of settled civilization in the Americas.
    According to Victor Colán Ormeño, researcher and Director of the Institute of Peruvian Studies of Civilization, this area of Peru is considered as the second oldest agricultural civilization in the world, following Mesopotamia, and far ahead of Mexico.
    Relatively few artifacts have been unearthed, but one item shows a close similarity to representations of the Sun god, Huiracocha (Wira- Vira-cocha), which date back to Tiahuanaco around Lake Titicaca, and later worshipped by the Inca. This suggests a 4000-year continuity of iconography and belief, something that can be maintained only by cultural isolation.


  1. "This suggests a 4000-year continuity of iconography and belief, something that can be maintained only by cultural isolation." Don't you mean, "only by cultural non-isolation"? or something like that? Or do you mean isolation from outside influences?

  2. Archaeologists mean this area had no outside contact other than its own development, which extended far and wide in the Andean area, but was isolated from influence from other societies developing elsewhere, such as in Central and North America. Stated differently, this was an initial area of development--others followed elsewhere in the Americas. From a Book of Mormon viewpoint, it suggests that the development in Andean Peru was not a continuation of social development elsewhere in the near areas--or again, the initial development of people in the Andean area of a singular development social structure (such as the Nephites).