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We traveled to the Bolivian altiplano plateau for the first pre-Inca cultures. We crossed Lake Titicaca, walked through the arid Peruvian coast, we visited the oldest archaeological sites, witness rituals led by shamans and know the looters and grave robbers. Know everything that happened centuries before the Incas to become the lords of the Andes absorbing all previous cultures.
00:50 From the ruins of the former settlements of the Inca and Tiwanaku cultures, on lake Titicaca, the Cayahualla priests worship Tata Inti, the Sun God.
The Tiwanaku culture appeared in about the fourth century AD, on the Bolivian plateau, just a few kilometres from the shores of Lake Titicaca.
04:13 On the islands of the Sun and Moon, we find numerous ruins of Tiwanaku origin, and which were later occupied by the Incas. The ancient mystical observatories are still used by the shaman in their ceremonies of invocation and meditation.
06:24 The majority of the coast of Peru is dry desert land. Nonetheless, this inhospitable land was the birth place of great civilisations, . this is the case of the Chimú culture who constructed irrigation channels, and created gardens in the desert. With their advanced techniques, they developed agricultural societies capable of supporting large numbers of inhabitants. The Chimú culture built cities like this one, Chanchán, perhaps the largest city in the world at the time, with around 100,000 inhabitants.
08:00 Still today, the fishermen along the coast of northern Peru use these boats, called “cattail horses”, to work the fishing grounds close to the shore. The cattail is a type of reed or bulrush which grows in the marshlands. Once it is cut and dried in the sun, it becomes tough and flexible, very resistant, and waterproof. At dawn, the fishermen set out to sea, expertly maintaining their balance as they ride the waves, using the most ancient of all surfing techniques.
11:02 The anthropomorphic face of the ‘Slitter of Men’s Throats’, at the Tomb, or ‘Huaca’ of the Moon, introduces us to the Moche culture, which flourished along these same coastal valleys, before the Chimú empire, from 200 BC to 700 AD.
15:22 The ‘San Pedro’ is a cactus which contains a powerful alkali with relaxant and hallucinatory properties mescaline, a mind-altering substance which induces a profound state of trance, also known as peyote. In the dark of night, and presided over by the shaman, rituals are held, at which they ingest the San Pedro.
21:34 The collection of over 16,000 skulls in the Archaeological museum in Lima makes it possible to study the pathology of these ancient cultures. These Nasca and Paraca skulls were subjected to a traumatic deformation, apparently simply for aesthetic reasons. A long, thin skull was a symbol of the upper class.
25:28 The discovery of the Tomb of the Lord of Sipan, a former president of Peru, was the most important archaeological discovery of America in the last decades.
30:00 These objects are made of gold, and come from the tomb of the Lord of Sipan. The police seized them from the grave robber Ernil Bernal, and they provided the clue for the archaelogist Walter Alva to discover this extraordinary Moche mausoleum.
30:32 The ‘Huaca Rajada’, the ‘Cracked Tomb’, is the burial complex of the Lord of Sipan. Excavations are still going on at this extraordinary find.
37:16 Every night, under cover of darkness, the robbers continue to find treasures, raiding the tombs of the Moche, Chimu, Chancay, Paracas, Nasca…The treasures they unearth are bought for pitiful sums by unscrupulous merchants, and sold on the black market.
41:00 We are leaving the coast and heading east, to discover the Chachapoya culture. We can see the ancient walls of their settlements along the cliffs and crags, totally inaccessible. Without a doubt, Kuelap is the most astonishing of all the Chachapoya cities. On the sacred mountain of La Petaca, there are over one hundred tombs in which they laid to rest their mummified dead. It is not known how they were able to construct them high up on the sheer rock face. The Chachapoya mummies are the product of a relatively sophisticated process.
49:21 And finally, the Incas arrived! Their Empire, the Tahuantinsuyo, extended from what is now Ecuador, to Argentina and Chile, absorbing all previous cultures. They became the masters of the Andes. They built astonishing cities, like the sacred Machupichu, abandoned since the arrival of the Spanish.
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