|New World's Earliest Mural||Volume 61 Number 2, March/April 2008|
| by Angela M. H. Schuster |
The oldest-known polychrome mural in the Americas was recently discovered during rescue excavations at Cerro Ventarrón, a site on Peru's arid north coast. Unearthed last fall by archaeologist Walter Alva of the Royal Tombs of Sípan Museum, the 4,000-year-old painting depicts a deer snared in a net. The mural adorns a wall of what has been identified as a fire temple, a well-known feature of later Andean ceremonial architecture in which people burned offerings to the gods. Adjacent to the mural is a 10-foot-high, semicircular chimney that held the temple's ritual fire--its walls still blackened with soot. The exterior walls of the temple, which was built atop a multi-terraced platform mound, are painted with a red-and-white zigzag pattern.
"The architecture of the fire temple is very, very primitive," says Alva, noting that the adobe used to construct it was devoid of stone and appears to be made up of little more than dried blocks of river sediment. However, the temple is significant because it bears a number of hallmarks that seem to be the most ancient expressions of fundamental ideas in Andean religion. "The stylized rendering of a deer snared in a net," he explains, "runs deep in Andean iconography, being symbolic of the primordial hunt and man's first offerings to the gods." The captured deer image was still being used 2,000 years later by the Moche...>>On a side note, found a great site called curiousexpeditions.org