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On this day ten years ago…
via Inca Food : Foods in Ancient days

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Wari brewed beer with pepper berries. Donna Nash

 

The Wari empire, an ancient Peruvian civilization that predated the Inca, made advances in agriculture, art, architecture, and warfare. They also drank a ton of beer.

According to archaeologists, Wari breweries—largely managed by women—played a major role in spreading the empire’s influence across diverse communities throughout Peru during its height between 450 and 1,000 C.E.

“We’re trying to understand how Wari civilization sustained itself for so long,” says Ryan Williams, an archaeologist at the Field Museum in Chicago. At their peak, Wari controlled a strip of land in modern-day Peru between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific coast. It stretched the same length as the distance between Jacksonville, Florida, and New York City. While the empire collapsed before European colonizers arrived in South America, they had an early influence on the development of the Inca—Williams compares it to the Greeks settling in Italy and helping give rise to the Roman Empire.

Because Wari people never had contact with Europeans and didn’t have their own written language, much of what we know about them comes from archaeological records. Williams says it wasn’t until 1950 that archaeologists were able to identify the Wari capital city, which allowed them to understand the scope of the empire. Now, researchers have excavated sites hundreds of miles away, and one thing has stood out: breweries—they’re everywhere. Williams’ team’s study, published this past Thursday in Sustainability, focuses on one at Cerro Baúl, a town at the southern edge of the empire hundreds of miles from the capital.

Williams says his team was interested in how Wari created a unique culture around beer to unify otherwise disparate groups of people throughout their territory. It’s a classic case of bringing people together through drinking and merriment, but scaled way, way up.

“Institutions around beermaking played a role in creating the glue that binds societies together,” Williams says.

Civilizations began producing alcoholic beverages, in some cases, before they created written languages. Archaeologists believe early hominids first got a taste for booze by eating fruits that had fallen from trees and naturally fermented over time. In 2018, researchers unearthed 13,000 year-old mortars from a cave in Israel that suggested humans were even making beer before they cultivated cereal crops for bread.

Archaeologists have found evidence of fermented beverage production in sites around the globe, and most of these processes are believed to have sprung up independently from each other. From rice wine in China to barley beer in Iran, it seemed you weren’t a real civilization until you had your own proverbial liquor label.

The Wari variety was chicha: a slowly brewed, beer-like fermented beverage typically made from corn that’s still produced today in South America. The brewery at Cerro Baúl made it for four centuries, surviving any environmental or social problems that may have arisen to become what Williams calls the best-preserved Wari brewery found to date. Brewers would produce 1,500 to 2,000 liters of the stuff at a time and throw multi-day, community-wide drinking festivals to consume it.

The team believes that these breweries were so resilient because they produced their own materials instead of importing them from a central capital. By completing a chemical analysis of pottery fragments found at Cerro Baúl, they found that the clay came from local sources while still retaining common Wari iconography.

The chemical analysis was also able to find tiny traces of biomarkers on the pottery associated with chicha de molle, a specific type of chicha made from fermented pepper berries. Excavators also found remnants of discarded pepper berries that had previously been used for brewing. While today’s chicha is usually corn-based, the majority of samples analyzed at Cerro Baúl are the pepper berry variety. Williams says this wasn’t a coincidence: pepper berry trees can survive droughts, making them ideal for the wide range of environments that the Wari empire would’ve encompassed.

Williams says the pepper berry is a common ingredient in most chicha brewing practices, along with the pottery the chicha would be served in, became the Wari brand. The envy of marketing departments everywhere, the beer was cohesive enough to communicate a shared political experience but adaptable enough for communities to sustainably produce it for centuries.

“Even in environmentally bad times, [Wari] could continue to kind of maintain this interaction with their population through this production of beer,” Williams says.

But, of course, researchers couldn’t be sure until they tried making the beer themselves. That’s where Donna Nash, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, got to unleash the beermaker within: She needed to reproduce the chicha to provide something to compare with the biomarkers found in the pottery fragments. She also wanted to see if Wari would’ve been able to make chicha at a smaller, household scale, which would’ve made the process even more accessible and, therefore, more widespread.

Nash worked with a local woman for about a month, who taught her how to brew both the corn and pepper berry chicha varieties using a process very similar to how Wari would’ve done it. She then compared the final product and the materials used to what the team found at the archaeological site.

“Making molle, you can actually do it in a single day,” Nash says. They first had to pick and winnow pepper berries that were ripe enough to have turned a caramel color. Then, they put the berries in a pot of boiling water and allowed it to steep like tea, taste-testing it every so often for optimal sweetness. They drained the berries out with cheesecloth and allowed the steeped water to sit in a cool, dark place for about five days.

“People who were brewing the chicha were probably also making thin, gauzy textiles to do the straining,” Nash says, though fabrics made out of organic material in archaeological ruins typically decay before they’re excavated. Some scholars, she says, have suggested that the relatively low-commitment pepper berry chicha brewing process could have been adopted by individual households, cementing Wari identity beyond the breweries.

The research wouldn’t have been complete without tasting the chicha. Nash says it’s surprisingly sweet, more like a cider than, say, a craft beer—there are no hops, and boiling the berries releases pockets of sugary resin. Whatever the taste, Nash and the rest of the team’s research suggests that chicha was instrumental in keeping the Wari empire together for so long.

“If you’re a little tipsy, most people are friendlier. And the experience of drinking together certainly does make those social bonds,” Nash says. “Also, we can’t ignore the way that ritual beliefs and behaviors are embedded in a lot of other things that these folks would have been doing.”

Archaeologists excavating civilizations around the globe have found that alcohol wasn’t just a way for our ancestors to get buzzed—in many cases, it occupied a significant place in society. Beer and wine were present in myths and offerings to the gods in Greece, and Rome, and were even used to pay the workers who built Ancient Egypt’s pyramids. Nash says that even when her team began research at Cerro Baúl, they performed a ceremonial offering to the land with beer in order to respect local traditions.

John W. Arthur, an anthropology professor at the University of South Florida, wrote in a piece for Anthropology Now, “Beer binds people together and serves to reinforce social hospitality and communality during ceremonial and everyday activities.”

Williams says archaeologists have yet to find Wari breweries that were still in use after the empire collapsed, which he believes points to their crucial role in fostering connections between what would have otherwise been politically fragmented groups.

“When the Wari state collapses, in these areas there are no big brewing facilities left,” he says. “People tend to start to move up into small, fortified hilltop villages, they’re starting to raid against each other.”

Nash says the research speaks to how seemingly small features of a society can help hold it together. Pepper berries could be easily propagated and grown throughout differing environments in Peru, and household chicha was simple enough to make in small batches without the need for too much fuel to brew it. Nash says this wasn’t a coincidence, and that the Wari were aware of how adaptable (and therefore influential) this practice could be for communities that would’ve otherwise had little in common with them.

“It shows us that local sourcing based on large shared ideas can provide the sustainable resources for political unification over very long periods of time,” Williams says.

Were Wari so successful because being constantly tipsy off homemade beer helped them get along better? Probably not—this research suggests beer may have been more potent as a cultural concept rather than an alcohol. But a few Peruvian brewskis couldn’t have hurt.

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Tiffiny Tung excavates at Beringa, Peru (Courtesy Tiffiny Tung)

Tiffiny Tung excavates at Beringa, Peru (Courtesy Tiffiny Tung)

Wari Ale gets its bright pink color from Peruvian molle berries and purple corn. (Courtesy of The Field Museum)

Wari Ale gets its bright pink color from Peruvian molle berries and purple corn. (Courtesy of The Field Museum)

 

Original Article:

news.vanderbilt.edu

by Liz Entman | Feb. 24,2016

After a long, dusty day excavating an archaeological site, nothing quite hits the spot like a frosty beverage. For Tiffiny Tung, associate professor of anthropology, all that hard work is about to pay off twice with the debut of a custom beer inspired by the fruits of her labor.

Wari Ale, a light, delicate beer whose rosy tint derives from bright pink molle berries and purple corn, will soon be available to connoisseurs over 21 at Chicago’s Field Museum and select Chicago retailers. The beer, crafted by Off Color Brewing, is based on a recipe treasured by an ancient Peruvian empire called the Wari and links to the museum’s permanent Ancient Americas exhibit.

“Archaeologists have known for a really long time that corn beer, or chicha, was socially important in the Andes,” said Tung. The Incas used it as a kind of political or social currency to build and solidify relationships with nearby lords.

But, while excavating a site called Beringa associated with the pre-Inca Wari culture, Tung found evidence that the Wari brewed their own version of chicha using the molle berry, the fruit of a local pepper plant.

Tung’s discovery was important, because 117 miles away at a site called Cerro Baúl, Ryan Williams, associate curator of anthropology at The Field Museum and a lead researcher of that excavation, had come upon the remains of a chicha de molle brewery, which he believes would have been able to produce 1,500–2,000 liters of beer in a single batch. Like Tung, Williams found evidence that, as corn beer did for the Incas, chicha de molle played a significant relationship-building role to the Wari.

“Tiffiny’s excavation at Beringa was key to understanding that Wari chicha de molle was a brewing phenomenon that went beyond our work at Cerro Baúl and was part of the larger Wari imperial project,” said Williams.

“It’s also really delicious,” said Tung.

The Field Museum first partnered with Off Color Brewing to produce a lager called Tooth and Claw brewed in honor of Sue, the museum’s Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. Williams hopes the museum will continue to be able to offer more beers inspired by the museum’s exhibits, collections and research in the future.

Media Inquiries:
Liz Entman, (615) 322-NEWS
Liz.entman@vanderbilt.edu

 

 

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Topic: diet

Human sacrifices are the most infamous feature of ancient South American societies, but little was actually known about the victims? New research published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology explores archaeological evidence from Peru, dating to the Late Horizon era between 1450 and 1532 A.D., to tell us more about the individuals who met their fate.

Examining the final years

Evidence from bone collagen to hair keratin was used to examine where the sacrificial victims lived in the decade prior to their death, as well as their diets in the months leading up to the fatal ritual.

This study investigated two key variables—residential and subsistence—among sacrificial victims dating to the Late Horizon (A.D. 1450–1532) in the Huaca de los Sacrificios at the Chotuna-Chornancap Archaeological Complex in north coastal Peru.

The studied individuals date to the period of Inca imperial rule over the Lambayeque Valley Complex which included a radical social change to the culture and the installation of direct Inca political presence in some areas of the valley.

The investigators decided to test a hypothesis that the sacrificial victims were brought from outside the locality and would have eaten a diet that corresponded to their status as sacrificial offerings in the final months of life.

To do this, they used 33 sets of human remains from Huaca de los Sacrificios, where rib samples could be collected from 32 individuals. The central aim of the study was to examine only the last decade of the individuals life through to the final months. Given this, and the fact that obtaining samples for dentine collagen isotopic analysis is particularly intrusive, the team opted not to include teeth in this study and took all samples from ribs.

Typical Inca demographic

The demographic of the victims at Huaca de Los Sacrificios mirrored that of Inca rituals within the empire’s heartland; mainly juveniles and females. Thirty of the 33 bodies were female and the majority hadn’t reached 15-years-old with some of the child mummies being no older than nine.

Haagen Klaus, anthropologist at Utah Valley University said at the time of discovery that the “majority of them were sacrificed using a very sharp bladed instrument, probably a copper or bronze tumi knife. And for the majority there are several combinations, a complex set of variations on cutting of the throat.”

Human sacrifice on the north coast of Peru can be both conservative and highly variable. The focus of ritual killing in this region for two thousand years appears to have been linked to blood sacrifice involving the slitting of the supplicant’s throat followed by a blow to the head.

A Surprising result

The results did not however match the expectations, as it revealed that in contrast to contemporaneous coastal and highland contexts rather than being individuals brought in from outside the region, the victims were local to the area, and consumed diets consistent with social status with no visible sign of dietary change in the final months. This is very different from other sacrificial victims (Inca Sacrifice Victims ‘Fattened Up’ Before Death. – National Geographic).

These findings suggest a distinct pattern of human sacrifice in the Late Horizon and underscore the regional and temporal variation in sacrificial practices in the central Andes. What this means is that every single site showing signs of the behaviour requires unique study to understand the context of sacrifice.

Source: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
More Information

Bethany L. Turner, Haagen D. Klaus, Sarah V. Livengood, Leslie E. Brown, Fausto Saldaña, Carlos Wester, The variable roads to sacrifice: Isotopic investigations of human remains from Chotuna-Huaca de los Sacrificios, Lambayeque, Peru” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22238
Human Sacrifice Victims at Chotuna-Chornancap: Multidimensional Reconstruction of Ritual Violence in the Late Pre-Hispanic Lambayeque Valley A paper by Haagen Klaus
Ambrose SH, Norr L. 1993. Experimental evidence for the relationship of the carbon isotope ratios of whole diet and dietary protein to those of bone collagen and carbonate. In: Lambert JB, Grupe G, editors. Prehistoric human bone: archaeology at the molecular level. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. p 1–37.
Donnan CB. 2012. Chotuna and Chornancap: excavating an ancient Peruvian legend. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA.

Original article:

past horizons
March 4, 2013

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Topic: Inca Foods

By Manuel Villacorta is a nationally recognized, award-winning registered  dietitian

Growing up in Peru, we ate many foods that you don?t see as often in the  United States. Quinoa, for instance, was everywhere?we used it to feed both  people and chickens! In recent years many of the foods I remember from a Latin  American diet have become available in the US, and it turns out they have highly  beneficial nutritional profiles. That they do should come as no surprise?many of  these are the foods of the Incas, on which those great people built a vast  empire. Today I want to introduce you to the five food wonders of the Incan  world, and suggest you try them out for yourself.

The Incan empire is less familiar perhaps than the Romans, but it shouldn?t  be; by the 16th century its borders extended from Machu Picchu in Peru north to  Ecuador and south along the Andes through modern-day Chile and Argentina. The  Incas had to manage a huge territory, including communicating across vast  distances, so it?s no wonder they were known for their fighting skills, their  endurance, and their strength. Clearly, they benefited from some good nutrition!  In fact, with an empire whose beginning pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in  the Americas, the Incas were fueled by a diet made up of nutritionally dense,  New World foods. Here are five of them.

1. Quinoa: The Incas called this staple of their diet Chehisaya mama,  meaning ?mother of all grains,? and yet quinoa is not actually a grain?it?s a  seed. And what a seed it is: one cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein, is high  in calcium, protein, and iron, and is a good source of Vitamin C as well as  several B-Vitamins. It is high on the lycine/thiamine system, so in combination  with other grains it creates complete proteins. Best of all, it?s incredibly  easy to make, and versatile to eat.  Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes with  two cups of liquid to a cup of quinoa. (Check out my YouTube demonstration on  how to cook quinoa.) Use it as a rice substitute in stir fries, pair it with  fish and vegetables to make a complete entr�e, or put it in a salad or under a  soup as a carbohydrate source. It?s even a breakfast food?boil it with milk, add  walnuts and blueberries, and it?s a delicious alternative to oatmeal.

2. Kiwicha: You may already know this seed by its more common  North American name, amaranth. It?s often called ?mini-quinoa,? but kiwicha is a  much smaller seed. It is very high in protein and has a more complete profile of  amino acids than most other grains, and it is rich in iron, manganese,  magnesium, phosphoros, and copper?minerals essential to healthy physical  functioning. Adding kiwicha to your diet can help decrease plasma cholesterol,  stimulate your immune system, and potentially even inhibit tumors. It also  improves hypertension and reduces blood glucose. In short, it can help support  your body?s essential systems. Kiwicha is like quinoa in one other respect?how  it?s cooked. Prepare just as you would quinoa or rice, and eat it in a  pilaf-like salad. Delicious!

3. Pichuberry: This small, smooth fruit is known in Peru as ?Inca berry,? but it was so  successfully spread by the Spanish after their conquest of the Americas that in  Africa it?s known as the Africa berry, and in Australia it?s called a Cape  gooseberry. Its health benefits are manifest: the pichuberry contains powerful  antioxidants and twenty times the Vitamin-C of an orange; it boosts immunity and  vitality, and there is even promising research suggesting it prevents cellular  aging and the onset of cancer. In Peru it is known as the anti-diabetic fruit  because it reduces blood sugar by stimulating the production of insulin. And its  nutrient profile (Provitamin A, B-Complex vitamins, thiamine, nyacine,  phosphoros) is associated with liver fortification, lung strength, fertility,  and food absorption. It makes a great salad when paired with quinoa, tastes  incredible with dark chocolate, and is a delicious replacement for blueberries  on your morning oatmeal.

pichuberries

4. Sacha Inchi: These seeds of the Inchi plant are often called  Inca-peanuts, and they are one of the best plant sources for the Omega family of  fatty acids. With 48% Omega-3, 36% Omega-6, and rich supplies of Iodine, Vitamin  A, and Vitamin E, the Inca-peanut has major health benefits in terms of  restoring your lipid balance, encouraging the production of HDL (high-density  lipoprotein, responsible for transporting lipids through your bloodstream), and  fighting conditions like heart disease and diabetes. You can certainly eat Sacha  Inchi like you would other nuts, but you might prefer to buy the oil and use it  to dress salads in place of olive oil (with its low burning-point, it is  somewhat tricky to use as a cooking oil).

5. Purple Potatoes: Potatoes are a remarkably diverse and nutritious  New World food?in Peru there are over 3,000 kinds! The one that was particularly  eaten by the Incas was the purple potato, which has started to appear in North  American supermarkets. The anthocyanins in the potatoes give them their  distinctive purple/blue color; these natural chemicals are flaminoids?substances  with powerful anti-cancer and heart protective effects. Flaminoids also  stimulate the immune system and protect against age-related memory loss. These  potatoes are delicious, with a distinctive nutty, earthy, slightly bitter  flavor. I prefer to roast them:  I use a pump mister filled with olive or  peanut oil?not an artificial cooking spray?to lightly spritz the quartered  potatoes, which I then spread in a roasting pan, sprinkle with kosher salt and a  little garlic powder or Italian seasonings, and roast for about 15 minutes at  400 degrees. Once the potatoes are cooked they are a great carb source for a  variety of meals; I make a batch on Sunday, and use them through the week  scrambled with eggs for breakfast, in a salad for lunch, or reheated with  chicken or fish for dinner.

All of these delicious foods have begun making an appearance in North  American supermarkets, and are still in the fully natural, nutritious state they  were in when they sustained the Incas through the building of a great empire.  Try them out. Your health and your taste buds will thank you.

Original article:

latino.foxnews.com

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