Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru

Giant earthen mounds in the shape of an orca, a giant condor, a duck, and a caiman have been discovered on the plains of Peru. These huge structures, ranging in length from 5 to 400 meters, are found in North America, but are uncommon in South America. Dr. Robert Benfer of the University of Missouri believes they may date to 4000 years ago, which places their construction around the time of the pyramids of Egypt.

The best part for home archaeologists? You can view them on Google Earth. You must install Google Earth, then download the KML file from here. If you’ve installed Google Earth correctly, the KML file should open automatically and zoom right down to the caiman mound. Here’s what it looks like:

A story in Sci-News points out the significance of the find:

Dr. Benfer also noted the structures may have been built as terrestrial manifestations of constellations the ancient Peruvians saw in the stars above. The mounds not only represented the stars, they aligned with them. So far, the researcher has found astronomical orientations at every giant mound.

For example, at the Chillón Valley site, an earthen condor’s charcoal eye lined up with the Milky Way when viewed from a nearby temple. The monstrous caiman/puma mound aligned with the June summer solstice when viewed from the same temple.

According to Dr. Benfer, astronomer priests may have made directed construction of the mounds and then made observations of the sky and offerings to the Earth from atop the earthen creatures. For the ancients, having a celestial calendar allowed farmers and fisherman to prepare for the year ahead.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.