Peruvian Water Cult?

If you haven’t read one of my blogs prior to this, I thank you for reading this one. It has been a great semester full of learning about fascinating archaeological sites! I get all of my articles from the National Geographic Society website because I am obsessed with their magazine, of which I am a subscriber. I generally go to the archaeology tab and see what is new and exciting and pick one of them to write about. This week I came across an article about ancient South American life, which is something that we have been very focused on lately with the Maya, Inca, and so on. The article is titled “Ancient Tomb Built to Flood – Sheds Light on Peru Water Cult?” Peruvian archaeologists were excavating a site of a pre-Incan priestess, but what caught their attention was what was below it. Below this tomb was another tomb that is nearly 800 years old. The presence of this tomb shows the importance this culture placed on water and their worship of it. These people are called the  Sicán, a people that are referenced in our book for this course. This specific burial is of their elite and they chose to bury him in the water table because it was in alignment with their beliefs. They believed that upon death, the body became a seed that would sprout into new life. Knowing this, it is obvious that they would want to bury their leaders deep in the water table, that way they could be reborn and rule again! Typically elite tombs are found in isolation, but then why is this specific site a stacked tomb? It is because they shared lineage, religious importance, or political succession of ruling these people. The water table has changed a lot over the last 800 years, but what we do know is that they were a very wealthy people that worshiped and had great control over water. Although they had great irrigation systems, they were still vulnerable to droughts and floods, which inevitably caused their demise. To wrap it up, it is very interesting that they worshiped water, but it is extremely understandable, especially in ancient times. We are all at the mercy of Mother Nature and are constantly reminded of it. Again, if you are reading this, thank you. I have enjoyed reading your posts as well. Have a great summer and good luck on your finals! And when you are preparing your will… think about having a water burial!

2 thoughts on “Peruvian Water Cult?

  1. I love this! It is beautiful to see what cultures rely on what force of nature to survive. For example, a culture that heavily relies on rivers bases their entire way of giving directions off of the river. So if we lived there and I wanted to give you directions from the Spartan Stadium to the Computer Center, I would tell you it is north of the river, and in the opposite direction of the flow of the river. I think it is so neat when people love and respect nature like this, because ultimately nature is the deciding force on our lives. A whole city can be wiped out with a single flood or starve with drought, so it is no wonder that water was so highly worshiped. Now we have back up and ways to avoid disasters like that, but as we have seen before, we are still very much at the mercy of Mother Nature. The only thing I’m curious about was how they kept their drinking water separate from the water that the bodies were in. If the water in the tombs was able to fall and rise with the water table then it clearly has a way in and out so it could easily mix in with water they would need to use right?

  2. I found this blog post very interesting because it shows a similarity between ancient culture and modern culture. Although we don’t worship water in the same way the ancient peruvians did, water is very much a big part of our lives. We see it in the Red Cedar, in the weather, and in every building on campus. As humans, we must survive on water, and therefore, must put some significant importance on it. While the ancient peoples often put religious importance on it, this is probably because they didn’t understand the science behind its importance. They knew that water was important, and saw all of its uses. However, their little knowledge of science led them to place the reasoning behind its importance on religion. Despite our non-religious uses for water, this still shows the similarities between us. We both need water. And likewise, the lives of both these people, the ancient peruvians and modern humans, center around water. There is a reason our campus is on the Red Cedar, and that major cities form near great bodies of water. Water is a source of nourishment and health. It is a source of enjoyment and fun. It is a way to travel and trade. It is a way to clean and cleanse. It can be utilized for power. There is no doubt that water is completely necessary and required for humans to live. It serves so many purposes to us. It is a central part of our lives, and will remain a central part for as long as humans need water.

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