(ORDO NEWS) — In the north of Peru, the oldest building in the New World was discovered, made of raw bricks. The 5,100-year-old brick walls hidden inside the Los Morteros mound were discovered by a team of archaeologists led by Ana Cecilia Mauricio of the Pontifical Catholic University in Peru. An article about this was published in the journal PNAS.
The find is the first evidence of the use of such bricks for building buildings. The remains of sacrifices inside suggest that this pre-Columbian monument once served ritual purposes.
Clay mud bricks, dried without firing in the sun, are still considered the most important building material in many regions of the Earth: about 30% of the world’s population and half of all people in developing countries still live in such clay structures. In pre-Columbian America, such bricks also played a significant role – they formed architectural traditions for thousands of years, in particular, they were used to build huge pyramids.
But despite such a great importance for the architecture of the New World, the origin of this building material has remained a mystery to this day. “None of the studies looked at the original roots of mud brick production or the development of its production technology,” notes Ana Cecilia Mauricio.
The hill of Los Morteros, measuring 150x200x15 m, is located in the middle of a barren desert landscape in the wilderness, for this reason it has long been attributed to its natural origin. Only in 2010, a radar analysis showed that the remains of architectural structures were hidden inside it.
During excavations begun in 2012, ruins of buildings around 5,100 years old were discovered. Their walls were built of adobe bricks, stacked on a limestone foundation. The floor inside also consisted of a thick layer of clay, and the walls were covered with clay plaster. In one of the rooms, the researchers found three children’s graves that appear to have been part of a larger sacrifice.
But the main interest in this structure was caused by the bricks themselves. They are rectangular in shape, their length is from 30 to 40 cm, width – 10 cm, height – 7 cm.A study of the structure of these bricks showed that they were cut directly from a natural water-saturated layer of clay, and then dried directly in this form. This sets them apart from all other mud bricks from South and Central America.
“The unique composition, internal structure and age of the Los Morteros mud bricks show us the origins of this architectural tradition,” the researchers write.
They explain that the simple unmodified adobe bricks in this building mark the initial stage in which the inhabitants of this region were apparently still experimenting with this building material. Only in subsequent periods did they manage to develop recipes for the production and drying of more durable clay bricks produced in large quantities, which then served as the basis for the construction of outstanding architectural structures of pre-Columbian Peru.
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