Sunday, June 15, 2008

Murals Believed Oldest in Western Hemisphere

A section of the red-and-white mural in the Ventarron temple complex, believed to be the oldest ever discovered in the Americas.

Archaeologists continue to investigate the discovery of the oldest murals ever found in the Western Hemisphere, first unearthed about seven months ago in Peru.

The murals are part of a massive clay temple with an altar for fire worship, according to Walter Alva, leader of the archaeological team that made the find. Named Ventarron, the temple is at least 4,000 years old – making it one of the oldest sites discovered in the Americas – and was built by an advanced civilization predating the Incas by several centuries.

“This discovery shows an architectural and iconographic tradition different from what has been known until now,” Alva says. The paintings feature red-and-white designs, with one depicting a deer being hunted with a net.

The site of the temple complex is in northern Peru, near the city of Lambayeque, nearly 500 miles from Lima. It is unusual for being constructed from bricks made of nearby river sediment rather than stone.

“What’s surprising are the construction methods, the architectural design and, most of all, the existence of the murals that could be the oldest in the Americas,” Alva says.

Archaeologists continue to explore the Ventarron temple in northern Peru, where they have already unearthed murals and a fire altar.

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