Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What about Ancient Technology? – Part III

Continuing from the last post with more on the ancient technologies of the Nephite era, despite many people believing these early cultures were incapable of achieving modern-level accomplishments in many fields, especially in building and developing their communities with modern-style convenience, such as the Heartland, Great Lakes and Eastern U.S. theorists who claim the Nephites settled in stick huts with thatched roofs. Or the theorists who promote Malay and Baja California, again, where no structures of an advanced civilization of the Nephite era are found. 
Take for example, the subject of agriculture, which has driven every society that ever was, some with outstanding efforts and results. As an example, the ancient people of Peru built water-moving and preserving technologies like the aqueducts of Cumbe Mayo (1500 B.C.) or the Nazca’s underground aqueducts called Puquios, or the terraced gardens of the Huari. In fact, the technique of terracing the many steep mountainsides in Andean Peru. These andenes, or terraces, reduced soil erosion that would normally be high on a steep hill, irrigating their fields with a system of reservoirs and cisterns to collect water, which was then distributed by canals and ditches. For centuries, some 97% of the land of Peru was farmed in this manner—growing maize, coca, beans, grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ulluco, oca, mashwa, pepper, tomatoes, peanuts, cashews, squash, cucumber, quinoa, gourd, cotton, talwi, carob, chirimoya, lúcuma, guayabo, and avocado.
    The early Peruvians were ambitious farmers, and to maximize agricultural production, they transformed the landscape with terracing, canals, and irrigation networks, while wetlands were often drained to make them suitable for farming. They were also fully aware of the values of regular crop rotation, and they also fertilized the land with dried llama dung, guano, or fish heads if these materials were available. Even so, the often harsh Andean climate could bring floods, droughts, and storms which, along with disease, meant that annual crop failures were not infrequent. In such cases their penchant for food storage came into its own. 
Foodstuffs  (and other goods) were stored in storehouses (qollqa) which were built in the tens of thousands across the land, typically arranged in neat rows and near population centers, large estates, and roadside stations. These Qollqa were single-roomed stone buildings, either circular or rectangular, which were built in a remarkably uniform manner. Placed on hillsides to take advantage of cool breezes, qollqa were designed to maximize the storage time of the perishable goods with which they were filled. They had drainage canals, gravel flooring, and ventilation in both the floor and roof in order to keep the interior as cool and dry as possible so that ordinary goods could be stored for up to two years and freeze-dried foodstuffs for up to four years. Archaeologists have ascertained that maize, potatoes, and quinoa were the most common foodstuffs stored in qollqa.
    On steep hillsides and mountain slopes, the sun's rays don't reach deep enough in the valley, which remain cooler in their bottoms. The mountain sides ensure more intense sunlight for longer time during the day, and in some parts there is little space in the valleys, so the usage of steps actually increases the area available for agriculture. In addition they could better control the amount of water used for the irrigation of the plants. Benefits of these stepped terraces included defense against possible landslides and floods, since rainwater does not accumulate and run down on the towns below. The rocks used for creating the steps strengthened the sides of the mountains, thus protecting what is in the valleys from possible mudslides during heavy rainfall. The early Peruvians had to cope with floods that could have destroyed their agricultural fields and homes in the valleys. Higher ground protected the plantations from disaster and floods from overflowing rivers when intense rains increased their volumes.
When other peoples had to wait for rains to come, these early Peruvians were controlling the irrigation of the terraces by diverting small quantities of water from mountain rivers, which eliminated the threat of drought. Unlike in the case of the Maya civilization, which had collapsed partly because of a long period of rainlessness, Peruvian cultures were able to sustain themselves throughout the year. In addition, because of the hillside terracing, they used different types of earth for different species of plants, and controlled the quantity of water used accordingly.
    Another area of advanced agriculture was found in Mesoamerica, where the chinampa system—the so-called “floating gardens” which can be found on the shallow lake beds in the Valley of Mexico. These chinampa plots were constructed by staking out a rectangular enclosure into the marshy lake bed. The enclosure would then be fenced in by joining the stakes with wattle. After that, the fenced in area would be filled with mud and decaying vegetation. In order to prevent the roots from becoming water-logged, it was important that the fill brought the chinampa plot above the lake level, and canals surrounding the chinampa plots formed an illusion that these agricultural lands were floating on water, hence its misattribution as “floating gardens.” To further stabilize these plots of land, willows were planted around the perimeter, and over time their dense root system anchored the retaining walls of the structure and reduced the effects of erosion. In order to ensure that the chinampas produced good harvests throughout the year, it was vital that the supply of water was well managed. During the rainy season, flooding would have been a problem and a sophisticated drainage system, which included dams, sluice gates and canals, were put in place to counter this problem. These ancient Aztec agriculture and waste water treatment seen in the floating gardens of Mexico, was so advanced that there have been attempts (unsuccessfully) to implement it in modern times.
Another interesting advance of the ancients is that of city planning. In the last century, numerous ancient cities have been unearthed that have astounded scientists and urban planners alike. When archaeologists discovered the 5,000-year-old site of Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan, what they found was unprecedented in the region--the city demonstrated an exceptional level of civic planning and amenities. The houses were furnished with brick-built bathrooms and many had toilets. Wastewater from these was led into well-built brick sewers that ran along the center of the streets, covered with bricks or stone slabs. Cisterns and wells finely constructed of wedge-shaped bricks held public supplies of drinking water. Back in its day, the city would have been home to around 40,000 inhabitants.
Top: Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan; Bottom: Caral in Peru

In the same era, in Peru, another great city was being constructed, that of Caral, located in the Supe Valley in northern Peru. The ancient city consisted of huge monuments, including pyramids, plazas, amphitheaters, temples, and residential areas. They had extensive agriculture, ate a varied diet, developed the use of textiles, used a complex system for calculating and recording, built water supply, and developed an intricate irrigation system. Architects are currently looking to Caral for inspiration in city planning. Japanese architects intend to incorporate building designs that they implemented to protect their people from earthquakes—such as houses suspended in baskets filled with stones that dissipated earth movement and prevented collapse. 
     There is much evidence to support the fact that there have been many highly advanced civilizations that have been destroyed by global cataclysmic events, that show many of the ancients were advanced in their building as well as thinking far beyond what most people today would consider. To think that North American theorists regarding the Land of Promise has Lehi’s family,with a storied background of living in stone buildings in a city built entirely of stone, living in the New World in stick huts with thatched roofs instead of stone houses and paved highways as the scriptural record describes is simply unworthy of historical facts of the time and eras involved.

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