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Chimú Culture constructed 10 km wall to protect capital against El Niño events



Archaeologists conducting a study of the Muralla La Cumbre, a 10 km wall in northern Peru, have concluded that the Chimú Culture constructed the wall to protect the capital of Chan Chan against El Niño events.

The Chimú culture emerged around AD 850-900 and controlled a territory encompassing 1,000 km (620 mi) of coastline from Piura in the north to Paramonga in the south.

The Kingdom was centred on Chan Chan, a large adobe city located at the mouth of the Moche Valley in an arid area of coastal desert. The city reached its peak during the 15th century AD, where it is estimated to have had a population of around 40,000 to 60,000 inhabitants.

The Chimú constructed the Muralla La Cumbre, a large trapezoidal stone wall during the 13th or 14th century AD, which runs from Cerro Cabras to Cerro Campana over a distance of 10 km.

Various theories for the purpose of the wall have been proposed, with the most prominent being as a territorial delimitation of the Chimú capital, to protect the city from Inca invasion, or as a ceremonial causeway.

Excavations led by archaeologist, Gabriel Prieto Burméster, Director of the Huanchaco (Pahuan) Archaeological Project, has suggested that the wall was instead built to protect Chan Chan from El Niño events.

El Niño events may have led to the demise of the Moche and other pre-Columbian Peruvian cultures. A recent study, titled “Global impact of the 1789-93 El Niño”, even suggests that a strong El Niño event caused poor crop yields in Europe, which in turn helped spark the French Revolution.

The researchers found an accumulation of almost two metres of sediment with multiple interstices of sand and mud which only occur on one side of the wall. There are 12 interstices detected, suggesting 12 climatic events.

A radio carbon analysis of roots found in one of the sediment layers has revealed a date of AD 1400-1450. This period coincides with a large sacrifice of 250 children and 40 warriors discovered near Chan Chan in 2019, which experts at the time suggest was to appease the gods for protection against natural catastrophes linked to El Niño events.

Header Image Credit : Gabriel Prieto / Huanchaco Archaeological Project

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Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction




A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.

Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.

The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.

Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.

The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.

“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.

The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.


Header Image Credit : INAH

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Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle




Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.

In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.

Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.

Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.

The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”

Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”

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