How Ancient Peruvians Used Technology to Mitigate Natural Disasters: Lessons for Today’s World

2023-04-26 00:42:59

It is Cyclone Yaku and, as soon as we are assimilating its effects, there is already talk of an imminent El Niño phenomenon; a situation that goes back six years to when the coastal El Niño hit the country, but for some experts this could be worse.

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Even with modern technology, they continue to leave us in check. Furthermore, despite the surprise (often terrifying) that they cause us today, these phenomena are so repetitive that even the ancient Peruvians knew them very well and knew how to deal with them.

What technology did ancient civilizations have? what did they do? How were they protected? And it is that ancient cultures are usually associated with a mystical life, far from science, and their achievements have been minimized or even attributed to extraterrestrials.

For the architect Yoshio Cano, one must first understand his worldview. “The vision of the ancient societies was different. He was in harmony with nature. Therefore, the science and technology developed had to go with that vision, not to prey That is why the religious theme was very important. He was not dissociated from the scientific as he is now ”indicated the head of the museography and architectural design unit of the archaeological zone of Caral.

The rains, mudslides, and river overflows have left destruction in their wake. (Photo: Andean)

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Caral is an archaeological complex that has allowed us to know how the ancient Peruvians lived with the environment.  (Photo: Diffusion)

Caral is an archaeological complex that has allowed us to know how the ancient Peruvians lived with the environment. (Photo: Diffusion)

in communication with Trade pointed out that this way of thinking could be translated into ideas such as that “Natural resources must be respected because they are like divine beings”. For example, the idea of ​​Pachamama, which is Mother Earth. But Cano also explained that each era has its worldview, if consumption, individualism, levels of development are prioritized… What do you think our worldview will be?

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knowledge and technology

Yes, the ancient Peruvians had technology and knew very well what they were doing to face the same natural phenomena that we suffer today.

“I would come to the conclusion that they have had some kind of study to mitigate those impacts. We have seen in practice that they have survived several Children (referring to the El Niño phenomenon) and there are the evidences that can be studied and, well, maybe learn a little from it”said Ingrid Ccoyllo, head of Tecsup’s digital technology department.

For the researcher, there has been a scientific aspect that has led them to create strong infrastructure, “It is not an improvised or strictly religious issue and that perhaps there has been a trial and error for which they have managed to mitigate the impact”.


Caral’s response to earthquakes

But they did not only attend climatic phenomena. The oldest civilization in America had an anti-seismic system for its buildings. These are the shicras, a type of woven bag made from vegetable fiber (reed, cabuya or totora) that contains a large quantity of stones or mortar. They could reach two meters in diameter. They were placed between the walls. Thus they achieved that the seismic force could be absorbed or disseminated because they accommodated each other. They could resist the seismic force.

Caral's response to earthquakes

Some examples are in Caral, a civilization with more than 5,000 years of history, settled in the Supe Valley, and which gave rise to other cultures. “Through archaeological investigations we see that they knew their territory very well. Such is the case that it can be seen from the location of urban centers. We see that the location is extremely strategic. They have not been affected by these natural events”said Yoshio Cano.

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This has shown that the inhabitants of Caral had developed knowledge in engineering, architecture, urbanism, planning. In addition, they mastered astronomy, a factor considered basic for any civilization.

“There are buildings that are oriented to the summer solstice sunset and others are oriented to the winter solstice sunset. There are even others that are oriented to moonshines. That was to locate himself in space and time. So, They knew the seasons, when the rains are going to come, when they go away, when the temperature increases in other places, when it can decrease, when the river will rise and there may be overflows.he explained.

Faced with possible river overflows, the inhabitants of Caral worked with the riverside forests as a natural defense.  (Photo: Diffusion)

Faced with possible river overflows, the inhabitants of Caral worked with the riverside forests as a natural defense. (Photo: Diffusion)

In the case of river overflows, the inhabitants of Caral worked with different trees around the Supe River, which increases its flow considerably during the summer. “They preserved the natural riverside forests that grow for various reasons, one of which is that it served as a natural containment when there were rivers that grew”, indicated. Just as it is done today with the river defenses, and which have been overwhelmed by the strong flow of the rivers.

And again climate change

In recent days, the El Niño phenomenon has been mentioned a lot. And it is that due to the high temperatures, the Study of the El Niño Phenomenon (ENFEN) and other international climate organizations are on alert because the effects of this phenomenon could have a global reach. It is even related to climate change.

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This is a difficult situation that the ancient Peruvians also faced. For that they used their knowledge of astronomy and soil. The archaeologist Valdemar Crispín, head of the Vichama headquarters, in the archaeological zone of Caral, explains that the inhabitants traveled practically all corners of this territory to learn about the effects of these cyclical (repeated) phenomena.

“Based on these experiences, they have also been looking for ways not to be affected, they built buildings in areas that were not going to be flooded, even in higher parts, not affecting the spaces that were used for agriculture, in areas that, for example, could have a visual domain of a wide territory”Crispín commented on this view that could be applied today to plan and avoid the impact of these events, the millions of soles that are lost and the cost of human lives.

A series of geoglyphs that had the function of astronomical markers is also studied. Some stand out in the form of a spiral, through which it is known that a flood passed. In addition, they used the area to locate the movement of the stars, but also to capture their worldview.

But no civilization escapes nature. Caral was formed around 3,000 years BC and was in force for almost 1,200 years, much longer than our republican Peru, which has barely passed its bicentennial. In all that time, he developed technology to have textiles, agriculture and incipient fishing. So why did it disappear?

“Around 2,400 years before Christ (BC) a cold environment was generated. And around 2,200 years ago this was associated with droughts, floods, dust storms, among other events around the world. These activities are not only local. They have had an impact on the different societies of the world, to such an extent that civilizations have collapsed. Within these, Caral can be included”Crispin pointed out. This is a phenomenon under study called 4.2K, which lasted 600 years.

This is how respect for nature has been key in ancient civilizations. Perhaps, if we listen to our ancestors, we can better face natural phenomena and not regret the consequences, as happens in these months.

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