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Current time:0:00Total duration:7:30

Chavin, Nazca, Moche, Huari and Tiwanaku civilizations

Video transcript

the western or northwestern coast of South America has been an interesting place for ancient civilizations we believed it to be one of the places that agriculture developed independently and as we'll see in this video and we've talked about in other videos it's a place where we have many significant cultures and civilizations and empires developing now what's interesting about it is it is not your classic River Valley Civilization like we have in Mesopotamia or in ancient Egypt or along the Yellow River in China or the Indus River in India and Pakistan instead this area is really defined by the Humboldt Current the Humboldt Current is a current that comes up from the south and off the coast of what is modern-day Peru for the most part it brings all these nutrients from the bottom of the ocean and what it does is it makes it a very powerful fishery so there's a lot of fish in the ocean in this part of the world and it also has interesting effects on the climate on land so in this region you can see even on this map there's this thin strip of desert and then you get into the Andes Mountains and on the other side of the Andes Mountains you start to have the tropical rainforest so if you go to Peru especially on the western part of Peru the ocean will look like this this is actually a picture I took from a recent family trip to Peru then as you get right onto the coast it will be pretty arid desert and then when you get up into the mountains they're fairly high altitude you'll have these mountain valleys that are some of them are at 7,000 8,000 9,000 feet this is actually another picture that I took from my recent family vacation in Peru a few months ago and what's interesting about the ancient civilizations there is some of them might have settled on the coast to take advantage of the fishing that was available there were some rivers or there continue to be some rivers that go from the mountains through the through the desert so some early agriculture developed around that but there's also civilizations that developed around these high-altitude valleys and what's really interesting about these civilizations is because of the terrain they weren't as unified as things that we might see in Mesoamerica so one of the first civilizations in all of the Americas that we have archaeological evidence of is the corral or Norte Chico civilization and one thing to keep in mind as I give the names of these civilizations this is not what they call themselves the civilizations tend to be named after the most significant archaeological locations that people have found and now as we get into the first millennium BCE we have what's called the cha bean civilization once again it wasn't there named this was about 3,000 years ago and to be clear this is when we just start to see that civilization getting quite advanced there's evidence that people had been settled in this area around modern-day Peru and Bolivia and northern Chile and Ecuador for potentially thousands of years before that but just to get a sense of the chubbing civilization here are some archaeological artifacts discovered and they were discovered at shebeen de huantar just thusly the name shebeen civilization sometimes called cha bean culture and what's interesting is we have these artifacts it looks like it was a religious cultural center some people refer to as a religious cult that really took off in this area but we don't believe that it was a formal Empire we don't know for certain because we don't have written records so we're just trying to figure out what we can from the archaeological evidence now near the time that the chubbie in culture started to decline and what's interesting we believe that a lot of these cultures declined either from warfare between themselves or some type of climate change whether it was the El Nino or some type of drought or famine and maybe that could actually cause a lot of the conflict within a society as well but those are some of the leading theories as to why the chopping culture ended around 200 BCE now around that time we start to see the emergence of several other cultures you have the famous Nazca culture emerge right over here in southwest Peru and their most famous perhaps for the Nazca lines is huge I guess you say drawings or our patterns that are made in the land some of them are 300 meters a third of a kilometer and you really can't even appreciate what they represent unless you're looking at it from a significant altitude some people have theorized that this is some type of message they're trying to send to the sky gods some people have even thought hey maybe this has something to do with trying to communicate with aliens this is famously called the spaceman who knows it's interesting to theorize about that Nazca civilization which started to emerge around 200 BC and once again we don't have written records so we can just look at their art there are their architecture these patterns that they created now a little bit later we start to see the emergence of the Moche civilization or the Moche culture in this area in light blue right over here sometimes called mo-chica and this is one of the significant structures they build huaca del Sol known as the temple of the Sun and it's been damaged a lot often times by people who are trying to looted or excavated in irresponsible ways but it was the largest structure we have found from pre-columbian America you say pre-columbian America were saying before Christopher Columbus got to America the Moche are really interesting we even though they didn't have writing we can learn a lot from their art and this is some examples of it and frankly this is some of the less graphic examples of it now as we get into the first millennium especially the middle part of the first millennium we start to see some other significant cultures and civilizations emerge so for example around 500 CE II so roughly 1500 years ago you see the wiry civilization emerge and that's here in red and there's some debates and you'll see these debates a lot as we study ancient history was it an empire or was it just a culture that had a lot of influence some of the arguments for empire it seemed like there was there was wealth it seemed like they were able to build large infrastructure works there was consistency across different settlements now there's also the Tiwanaku and we believe it was truly an empire but we could say the Tiahuanaco civilization right over here in yellow really centered at off the coast of Lake Titicaca which is right in that area right over here but the big takeaway here is this is just a sample of some of the civilizations that you've had in this part of the world now what's really interesting is as I mentioned a lot of them weren't able to form formal empires people think because of the the valley the mountains the terrain that we're keeping people from maybe trading or being able to control each other a little bit more strongly but eventually we do have the emergence of fairly strong empires as we see in the Incas which emerges in the fifteenth century around 1438 and then the Inca Empire ends with the European colonization of the Americas and we also believe the tihuanaco were significant Empire despite some of the geographical hurdles