Complex inland culture 105,000 yrs ago + 3000 yr old mural of knife-waving spider god

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105,000 years ago in the Kalahari Desert, people invented complex culture

EXCERPTS: Between 125,000 and 70,000 years ago, people began to do some very modern things: collecting small objects for no practical reason, decorating things with pigments, and storing water and possibly even food in containers. The oldest known sites with evidence of those behaviors are along the coastline of southern Africa. [...] And according to one idea in paleoanthropology, something about that way of life enabled those early people—or maybe pushed them—to innovate. Their distant neighbors who lived far from the sea supposedly lagged behind the cultural times. But Griffith University archaeologist Jayne Wilkins and her colleagues recently unearthed evidence that landlocked people were just as hip and modern as their counterparts on the coast.

[...] If you’re not an archaeologist, it may seem obvious that people living inland could be just as innovative as people living on the coast, but all the evidence archaeologists had until now told a different story. The oldest traces of a whole suite of new (at the time) human behaviors have all been found at sites relatively close to the coastline. In the African interior, in places like the Kalahari basin, we've found evidence that people were present around 100,000 years ago, but there was no indication that they stored their water in eggshells, colored things with pigment, or collected shiny objects.

But according to Wilkins and her colleagues, that has more to do with geology than with what people were actually doing in the distant past. “Stratified Late Pleistocene sites with good preservation and robust chronologies are rare in the interior of southern Africa,” they wrote in their recent paper. The result is what they describe as a “strong bias towards coastal sites that marginalizes the role of inland populations,” which, in their words, “[has] always been problematic.”

The artifacts from Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter are the first evidence that people living far from the coasts invented some key cultural concepts at around the same time as people on the coasts. And that tells us something important about our past: lots of people, in lots of different environments, found similar solutions to problems and similar things to care about... (MORE - details)

Archaeologists Find 3,000-Year-Old Mural of Knife-Wielding Spider God in Peru

EXCERPTS: It likely had eight legs, and at least one of them is still brandishing a knife. That’s the report from archaeologists in northern Peru, who have announced the discovery of a 50-foot mural that once was the centerpiece of a pre-Columbian shrine. The find was made in November 2020, when farmers seeking to expand their land partially destroyed a huaca—a Peruvian ceremonial structure—sitting among their avocado and sugar cane crops. The huaca, now cut in half, revealed a striking mural.

[...] the mural was about 3,200 years old ... about 60% of the huaca was destroyed. The archaeologists attribute the huaca and mural to the Cupisnique culture, which used spiders as a divine symbol. The Cupisnique inhabited the area, known today as the Virú Valley, for much of the Iron Age. ... This site, dubbed Tombalito ... abuts the Virú River on Peru’s northwestern coast. One can just make out a couple of the arachnid’s legs and the weapon it wields in one “hand.” The red, white, yellow, and grey pigments are just barely distinguishable from the khaki brown soil... (MORE - details)

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