By M.P. Pellicer | Eerie.News
In ancient times, Chile's Atacama Desert was the scene of a powerful earthquake and tsunami that erased the populace along the coastline.
Zapatero, was an ancient community in northern Chile, dating back 4,000 years. The inhabitants lived in home with walls and floors made from a cement-like material made from algae ash, seawater and shells.
The area was populated as early as 3,700 B.C. where the populace built stone houses atop shell mounds that opened into patios. The dead were buried beneath the floor of the house.
The sturdy homes withstood time and normal weather, however it could not withstand the onslaught of a giant wave. A few ruins of houses at Zapatero lie with toppled walls in a pattern of destruction left by the currents of a tsunami.
Another house, had sand with the remains of "marine algae and chinoderm spines mingled with chunks of rock, shells and sediment ripped up from the ground" covering the floor.
There was evidence of channels dug by the tsunami's sudden current. Radiocarbon-dated shells found that many of the shells were older than the ones in undisturbed layers underneath. This points to an event that ripped up the older levels and deposited them on the surface.
These same findings were evident in other ruins along several miles of the Atacama coastline. Geological evidence points to a conjoined disaster of an earthquake and tsunami. Testing of these uplifted chunks are date to about 3,800 years ago.
The disaster that struck the area was of epic proportions. The rupture stretched along the fault systems where the Nazca Plate slid under the South American Plate. The earthquake was estimated at a 9.5 megathrust that shoved "parts of the coastline upward and triggered a tsunami almost a mile high along a stretch of the Chilean coast that extended across the Pacific and New Zealand."
The people who lived in this area, had no choice but to abandon their homes. The effects of the earthquake, tsunami and an arid desert at their back gave them no choice.
The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world outside Antarctica. Less than 1/2 inch of rain falls there, however people have lived here for approximately 12,000 years. The answer to the survival of these people is the rich ecosystem provided by the Humboldt current that lies just offshore.
However when the tsunami destroyed lives and houses, even the largesse of the ocean could erase the memory of the devastation and the area was abandoned for several hundred years.
Only short-lived camps date to later years. In another archaeological site in northern Chile, near Taltal there was over a 60 percent increase in the settlement around the same year of the mega disaster.
Approximately 3,000 year ago marks the division between two distinct cultures, Archaic IV (5,700 to 4,000 years ago) ad Archaic V. After this period settlements and cemeteries were moved inland and to higher ground.
Even iron oxide mines were abandoned.
According to Gabriel Easton, geologist at the University of Chile:
Iron oxide was used as a pigment for several reasons, including the realization of pictures on stones that can be found in several sites along this region of the coastal Atacama Desert.
The cataclysm however did not change the tools and types of food the people ate.
As memory of the event disappeared, the people started to return to the coastline about 1,000 years ago. The numbers returned to what they were.
This event was comparable in magnitude to one that was recorded in Valdivia, Chile in 1960.
The study suggests the possibility of another earthquake occurring once again of the coast of northern Chile, and the only thing that can be done is to prepare in order to reduce risk.
If there is a lesson to be learned, is the hardiness and adaptive abilities of humans even when faced with cataclysmic events that wipe out most of what is needed to survive.
Source - Science.org
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