South American History

One of the infants was around 18 months old at time of death, while the second was between 6 and 9 months old.

Archaeologists Unearth Remains of Infants Wearing 'Helmets' Made From the Skulls of Other Children

Members of Ecuador's Guangala culture may have outfitted the infants in skulls as a protective measure

The 8-year-old girl lived in the Andes around 1470

500-Year-Old Inca Mummy Repatriated to Bolivia

Dubbed Ñusta, or 'Princess,' the mummy represents the first archaeologically significant set of remains to be repatriated to the Andean country

Researchers hypothesize that magnetic figures may have been crafted to memorialize the dead, with the attractive forces of the sculptures representing a lingering life force.

Mesoamerican Sculptures Reveal Early Knowledge of Magnetism

Stone figures with magnetized cheeks and navels suggest the pre-Maya civilization of Monte Alto understood the attractive force

1,000-Year-Old Pouch From Bolivia Contains Traces of Five Mind-Altering Drugs

The ingredients include coca leaves and two compounds used in modern ayahuasca rituals

Typical Tiwanaku-period offerings at Khoa Reef in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, including stone carvings and sacrificial animal bones.

Before the Inca Ruled South America, the Tiwanaku Left Their Mark on the Andes

Artifacts including gold medallions and sacrificial llama bones reveal the ritual pilgrimages taken around Lake Titicaca

Illustration of a sloth in André Thevet's Les Singularitez de la France Antarctique (Paris: heirs of Maurice de la Porte 1558)

The Strange Nature of the First Printed Illustration of a Sloth

As described by a 16th-century French missionary, the South American 'little bear' with the face of 'a baby' was introduced to Europe

A Rapa Nui sculptor has offered to create an exact replica of the famed Easter Island head

Rapa Nui Representatives Visit British Museum to Discuss Repatriation of Moai Statue

The four-ton sculpture was taken from an island temple and gifted to Queen Victoria in 1869

The Science and Cell teams sequenced a total of 64 ancient human genomes

This Week Has Offered a Slew of Insights on the Western Hemisphere’s First Humans

Studies reveal rapid yet uneven movement south in at least three migratory waves, complicating story of the Americas' settlement

Contemporary hot chocolate bears little resemblance to the bitter drink enjoyed by ancient South and Central American civilizations

Cacao Was First Cultivated in South America, Not Mexico and Central America

New study pinpoints birth of chocolate to some 5,300 years ago, or nearly 1,500 years earlier than previously believed

Researchers used 1,000 years’ worth of built-up sediment found at the bottom of the valley’s Lake Huilla to create a timeline of the area’s population—and depopulation

This Lake Tells the Story of Ecuador’s Decimated Indigenous Quijo Civilization

In 1541, roughly 35,000 Quijos lived in the valley. By the 1580s, they had vanished, leaving little evidence of their existence behind

Nelson Mandela's capture site.

These Sites Connected to Nelson Mandela's Life Are Haunting and Inspiring

Honor the anti-apartheid activist’s legacy by following his footsteps for his 100th birthday

The San Jose's decorated cannons

"Holy Grail" of Spanish Treasure Galleons Found Off Colombia

The <i>San José</i> went down in 1708 filled with gold, silver and gems now worth billions of dollars

Charles Darwin was an avid fossil collector and during his expedition on the HMS Beagle, he was one of the first to collect remains of extinct South American mammals.

How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Evolved

A new Smithsonian Book highlights firsthand accounts, diaries, letters and notebooks from aboard the <i>HMS Beagle</i>

View of Trujillo between mountains and desert In Peru

Archaeologists Discover Site of One of History's Largest-Recorded Incidents of Child Sacrifice

The excavation uncovered the remains of more than 140 children and 200 llamas, who were sacrificed some 550 years ago in Peru's northern coast

One of the structures at Jacó Sá site.

Satellite Images Reveal 81 Pre-Hispanic Settlements in the Amazon

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests settlements in the Amazon were far more wide-ranging than scholars once thought

The body-shaped sarcophagi of Karajía contained the remains of high-ranking Chachapoya ancestors.

When Genetics and Linguistics Challenge the Winners’ Version of History

New research shows that indigenous Peruvians were more resilient than the conquering Inca gave them credit for

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute archaeologist Ashley Sharpe contemplates the Ceibal site in Guatemala—one of the oldest Maya sites known.

Dogs Were Transported Across Great Distances for Ancient Maya Rituals

A new paper uses chemistry to shed light on the management of Maya animals

Truck tracks on the Nasca lines

Truck Driver Leaves Tire Tracks Over Peru's Ancient Nasca Lines

Three of the Unesco World Heritage site's enigmatic glyphs were harmed, but authorities believe they can repair the damage

Pumalin Park

Chile Designates 10 Million Acres of Land as National Parks

Spurred by the donation of 1 million acres of privately owned land, the country is adding two national parks to its system

Lanterns in Medellín, Colombia.

Colombia Begins the Christmas Season With These Beautiful Light Displays

Día de las Velitas is celebrated on the day before the celebration of the Immaculate Conception

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