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Coca leaves – South American medicine

By | 2017-09-10T14:01:50+00:00 September 10th, 2017|Science, South America|

Coca farming Like potatoes and tomatoes, coca plants grow wild in the Andes Mountains of South America; they probably evolved around the same time as the other flowering plants, around 120 million years ago. The plants make cocaine in their leaves, probably to keep animals from eating them. Woman chewing coca leaves (Uruguay, ca. 500 BC-500 AD) When people first [...]

Who were the Nazca? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T17:04:12+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Nazca lines - a giant monkey drawn on the desert floor After the Chavin state collapsed about 250 BC, two new states formed in Peru - the Moche in the north and the Nazca in the south. So by about 100 BC, the Nazca were between the Moche and the Mapuche to their south, in what is now Chile, and [...]

Who were the Moche? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T17:01:01+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Moche portrait of a blind man, 400-500 AD (thanks to Oberlin College) The collapse of the Chavin state in Peru, about 250 BC, seems to have opened the way for the Moche and the Nazca to develop states of their own. The Moche started up around 100 AD along the Pacific coast of South America, in what is now northern Peru. The [...]

Who were the Inca? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T08:59:26+00:00 September 9th, 2017|History, South America|

Macchu Picchu Until the 1400s AD, the Pacific coast of South America was made up of a lot of small independent kingdoms: first the Valdivia and Norte Chico people, then the Moche, the Chavin and the Mapuche. These kingdoms often raided each other, but then they went home again and made peace. This was like the city-states of ancient Greece, or the Etruscan period in Italy. Then one [...]

Who were the Chavin? South American history

By | 2017-09-09T00:10:12+00:00 September 9th, 2017|South America|

A Chavin carving By around 900 BC, the Norte Chico people of northern Peru developed into the Chavin culture. Like the earlier Norte Chico people, the Chavin people used irrigation to farm potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, and hot chili peppers. They also farmed corn, but they really ate mostly potatoes and quinoa, which grow better high in the Andes mountains. They hunted deer with spears [...]

Central and South American food

By | 2017-09-08T17:13:27+00:00 September 8th, 2017|Central America, Food, South America|

Aztec men sharing a meal When people first came to Central and South America, perhaps about 15,000 BC, they hunted and gathered all of their food. They picked wild potatoes, wild teosinte (the ancestor of corn), wild beans and wild tomatoes and avocados. They hunted rabbits and llamas and turkeys, and fished in the rivers and the ocean. For fun, they probably fermented teosinte and other plants into [...]

South American and Central American architecture

By | 2017-09-08T15:22:56+00:00 September 8th, 2017|Architecture, Central America, South America|

Olmec Pyramid, La Venta, Mexico (500 BC) The earliest big buildings from South America are in Ecuador and Peru, along the Pacific coast. The Norte Chico people and the Valdivia people built stone temples there as early as 3500 BC. Later on, people also built stone buildings in Central America (modern Mexico). Olmec people built them about 1150 [...]

Where does chocolate come from? South America

By | 2017-10-14T15:18:41+00:00 June 21st, 2017|Food, South America, What|

Cocoa pods grow right from the trunk of the cocoa tree! (Thanks World Cocoa Foundation) Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which grew on trees in Central America and South America starting probably about 100 million years ago. Cocoa trees may have gotten their start on the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains. Cocoa trees [...]