Thursday, May 18, 2006


The discovery of the oldest known art and agriculture calendar in the New World was recently announced by Professor Robert Benfer of the University of Missouri-Columbia. The 2200 BC Temple of the Fox in Buena Vista, Peru, is "1,000 years older than anything of its kind found before. It's also significant because it suggests people organized their lives around Andean constellations and provides evidence of the beginning of flood-plain agriculture," said Benfer.

It's dubbed The Temple of the Fox because Benfer unearthed a mural of a fox incised inside a painted llama at its entrance. The fox was significant in Andean myth and astronomy and, in their myths, taught the ancient Andean civilizations how to cultivate and irrigate plants.

While excavating the temple and sculptures within, Benfer discovered several astronomical alignments at the Buena Vista site that suggests Andeans used astronomical signs and constellations for agricultural acitivies. The lines incorporate points at the temple entrance, at the offering chamber, on sculptures and on surrouding ridges that align with the rising and setting sun on days of astronomical significance such as the equinox and solstices.

In the past looters had come within one inch of statuary while seraching for gold and silver in the ancient temple. But the Andeans constructed offering chambers, used them for ceremonies and then built new chambers above the old that protected the Buena Vista site from the looters.

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