Lessons About Authority: What Ancient Peru Can Teach Us with John Rick

Lessons About Authority: What Ancient Peru Can Teach Us with John Rick


There are so many things to key
into here with my hot peppers. I was just out yesterday giving my
first talk ever on hot peppers to a class on sustainable agriculture
out at the O’Donohue Garden. And believe me,
to have me growing my peppers with the aid of fantastic agricultural
experts who are out there, it’s what allows me to go away for
three months in the summer. Just walk out on my peppers to go do the
work I’m gonna be talking to you about. There’s something very
Stanfordesque about that. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it’s a privilege it’s,
it’s something when you needed it. And, rather than trust the drip
system in my backyard of highly shadowed peppers,
I’ve got this big sky country. My God, wonderful. At any rate, I’m also pleased
to hear you’re gonna be going to listen to an authority after my talk. And I hope I can give you some
perspectives, not so much on our president who seems to have a very reasonable way
of managing authority of the university. And that’s the last one
of those I will do.>>[LAUGH]
>>I’ll try to promise you. But, this is a subject matter
I had been talking about long before things like that. And so, I’m very stuck on the idea of
authority and what it means to us. I think it means a whole more
than most of us realize. We are creatures of authoritarian systems. I don’t care what government you
live under, if it’s a state, it’s authoritarian. That’s why it’s a state, but
I’m getting ahead of myself. It sounds like I’m gonna give a talk
on modern politics, and I’m not. I’m giving you a talk on my sight,
in high altitude Peru, in this environment of image modified, in other words ripped off from Google,
where you can see the town of Chavin, that light blip in the lower right hand
side, a little bit right off center. And the site immediately adjacent to it. That lightish blip there
is the town of Chavin. The site is just to the left
of that town patch. And it is a monumental site, it’s a world heritage site,
one of I think five that Peru has. It was second after Machu Picchu
to be recognized by UNESCO, it’s having universal human values. And that was before my time in 1985. Before my time in Chavin I was busy
digging caves at that moment and dreaming of Chavin, I have to confess, being a bit of a traitor to my high
altitude hunter gatherer cave sites. And through very many twists and
turns, I came to work in Chavin and passed this quarter of a century there. I want to try to give you an idea
of the output of that to me. Some of the finds, the specific things,
sure, but what does it mean? Why do you spend 25 years at 11,000 feet,
that’s kind of low for the Andes. What are you pursuing? And I’m trying to pursue us. I’m trying to understand
how we got to where we are. Well, again,
let’s start kind of at the beginning. Most of you can recognize this individual,
Hugo Chavez, who started things going in a very
different direction in Venezuela, in some senses towards where they are now. But my point, really in showing his image,
Hugo Chavez was a strong man. You can argue he was
elected democratically. You can argue a lot of things. But you didn’t argue with who Hugo Chavez,
I’ll tell you that much. You didn’t find yourself in one piece for
very long if you did. And I’m not criticizing that. A lot of people are talking about
the limitations of democracy these days. He in some ways demonstrated that amply. But he also demonstrated the limitations
of departing from democracy too. The point is, there are strong patterns
of authoritarianism in Latin America, and if we think that starts with
the last few decades, think again. Here, we’ve got two authoritarian
systems portrayed by an artist of the early 1600s,
an Inca descendant who was trying to show how badly mistreated
his people were by the Spanish. Well, the Spanish and the Inca were kind
of in competition for mistreating people. They both believed in
themselves very strongly. They both believed that they had the God
given right to conquer other people. The Inca were the sons of the Sun,
the children of the Sun. Was divine in every sense of the term. He wasn’t even a member of our species
as far as the Inca were concerned. He was an authority, but an extreme
authority, a polarized authority. In some ways, you need that, right? You have to set yourself very
apart to be an authority, cuz otherwise everyone’s an authority. How did we get here? The Spanish did their own thing,
and of course, took down the Inca. But they were hardly that couple
of authoritarian societies, were hardly the beginnings of this. Before the Inca began cranked up at
1430 AD and only lasted 100 years. That society is like the Moche here
in National Geographic vision, dramatizing some of the things
that actually happened. An individual seated on this
who is capable of ordering, and is about to order the death and bleeding
of these two prisoners taken in warfare. And their blood drained
into the 2 goblets that the young people in
the background are holding. And he may or may not drink the blood,
our authority. But things are set up to really highly
differentiate those who are doing well here, and those who aren’t. Authority was already well
underway by about 100 AD. It was really in place we could say, and it has the trappings of militarism
all over it, coercion is involved. So is that how we started out? Do we get to authority through arms? Do we see people pushing each other
around, bonking each other in the head. Is that how we got here? I hope not,
it’s not a very comforting thought that the foundations of our society
were based on military activity. At least I don’t find it comforting. But we haven’t gotten to the answer yet. So I want to ask,
before societies like the Moche, where did the origins of authority
begin and how did it take form? Well, let’s look at time, and
here’s how I look at it for the Andes. We’ve got this long formative period,
in which you go from basically minimalist agriculturalists,
people living dispersed on the landscape, no towns to speak of,
no real vestiges of authority, no evidence that people had more,
could boss people around. Any of the things that seemed to
distinguish for authoritarian society. By the time we hit zero,
the format is over and we transit into the boring states. Why are they boring? I find the ink of boring. You could study the Inca. You could study the Romans. You could study a whole
bunch of different states. They are all very similar, cuz they all
have to have this authoritarian character. They may adorn it with art. But for the most part,
they get more similar over time. There is convergence from rather
more diverse formative beginnings. So the formative is what
I wanna look at and we’re gonna be particularly looking
at the middle and late formative. 1300 BC to 500 BC, the time of Chevy. Now, just to get one thing clear. There’s authority and there’s power. Power is classically defined as
the ability of one person or group of people to get another person,
or group of people to do something. It’s just that simple, but
authority is different. Because a lot of things can get
a group of people to do something. Can be the threat of force,
can be charisma and personality. It can be law. You shall respect the person
in this authoritarian or authority position, but the idea then is
that there’s something correct about this. Authority unlike power,
a much broader thing. Authority is the more narrower
type of power that is legitimate. It’s believed in. People are accustomed to it. It’s the type of things that make us ask
and I’ve done this, not so long ago. Walk into a room. There’s 30 people in there and
there’s nobody up in front. You say, okay, who’s in charge? Who’s running this meeting? Who’s the one that’s going to be
calling on people for questions? Who’s, etc. If we don’t see an authority,
if we don’t, we have the idea that over a certain number of people,
there will be somebody in charge. We grew up with that idea. It’s deep within us. So deep that when we think
about extraterrestrials, what’s the first thing they say
when they come to the world? Take me to your leader. We assume that they assume
that we would have a leader. And you if you think about it,
you say, I can’t get out of that box. Of course, you have to have a leader. How could you coordinate people
without having a person or a smaller group of people
who are running the show? I don’t know, but
I don’t think I can know. I don’t have an access to that thought. I think there could be a lot of ways. They’re outside of our way of thinking and maybe outside of our way
of being human limitation. But again, the question is
how did this come to be then? How do we go from a broad sense of power
based on many things to a sense of power in which we simply believe that the role,
the name, it could be a president. It could be an emperor. It could be head man,
chief, whatever you want. That person intrinsically
has the right and the office is bigger than the individual. How do we come to believe in this? Because 5,000 years ago in most
parts of the world, it didn’t exist. Authority was not there. Early human beings were not
the old image of band of hunter gatherers with a head band,
head man. It was always head man. Rarely head woman, but that’s wrong. Hunter gatherers didn’t live that way. People had limited authority
over some parts of life. There could be experts in different
activities, for instance. Ritual experts, but they did not hold a broad pattern
of authority over their societies. This is something of our last 5,000 years. In most places, there may be a few places
that go a few hundred years before that. That’s a little bit more challenging. Where did it come from? Here’s a graphic I put together before these colors had any
meaning in our society. And therefore,
I take no responsibility for any suggestions about
the meanings of these colors. These are two broad stereotypic
patterns like all stereotypes, erroneous about how you might come
to power, particularly authority. On the left-hand side is one
that depends on the idea of an authority coming about because
of their altruistic feelings, dedication, service to their
society to provide leadership. And therefore,
benefit the society by their leadership. All been in situations where
we’ve seen this happen. I would suggest probably we’ve been in
few situations where we’ve seen at a very high-level, authorities come
through a purely altruistic route, where they have nothing in it for them. They don’t care about the income,
the status, the right of way or the transfer of that,
to their offspring. The improvement of the perspectives for
their descendants. But on the other side where I identify
sort of rather crassly the motivation as greed, getting into a position of
authority clearly does privilege you. Whether you like it or not,
you are potentially on the receiving end of a system of inequality, usually
the top of that system in some sense. So you’re motivated not to serve
a system to improve the lives of others, but very much to improve your own and
those of people close to you. Now similarly,
finding someone who matches that in our world of authority is a bit of a strain. I mean, pure self-motivation. So it’s pretty hard to accept,
either of these as the stimulus. I wanna help all you. And therefore, I’m gonna create or
help create authority. I wanna help myself. And therefore, I’m gonna create this maybe somewhat fantasy of authority. It’s probably somewhere in the middle,
right? A mixture,
that’s more like the leaders we know. They’re somewhere between
these two extremes. Well, at the beginnings,
what was the mixture? Aren’t we looking at our ancestry there? Aren’t we saying, what are we? Where did we come from? Where are these systems that we trust. If in country we trust,
where did that come from? What was the mix at
the outset of North America, the USA of greed and altruism? I wouldn’t insist they’re both there. But let’s go back to before that. United States was not a pristine state. It was based, in many senses,
on ideas running around. What’s legitimate authority? So we go back in time and what do we know? Much less, much less,
almost nothing, I rest my case. That’s why we need Chavin and
we need me, because I can point you in some of the directions that I
think were the origins of authority. So let’s get to some archaeology here. Gosh sakes, time’s a wasting. That’s a pot from the Chavin period. Roughly speaking,
I like to think it was 3,000 years ago. And its characteristics really help
inform us about this time period. Polished blackware, heavily sculpted. And you might look at it and say that’s
glazed cuz there’s light reflecting off of just about every surface. It is not, it’s low-fire pottery,
no fused glass on the surface. That’s all stone polishing,
going down into the smallest furrows and bumps that you see on that. Hundreds of hours went
into polishing that. But I can argue that that pot,
with its curious stirrup spout form, probably never held anything in its life. It’s a symbol of a pot, could be used,
almost undoubtedly wasn’t. It’s probably burial furniture, actually,
went into the tomb with somebody. But it yet involves a huge amount of work. It’s an everyday object, a pot,
that has taken on a new meaning. And the person who owns that has it,
possesses it, and can display. It’s set apart from the person who can’t. And not everybody is gonna be able
to pull the labor to do that. So we’re looking at a sort
of new thing in society. Not only do we have things that are
expensive to produce and attract the eye. But they also start to appear in
the Andes, broadly dispersed in the important places,
the first towns that are beginning. And in association with the first
monumental architecture, the first really big buildings. If we take the art that’s on that and
look at a more elaborate version, here is kind of a stereotypic
Chavin image, central human figure. That thing in the middle has two legs,
roughly speaking, a waist, an upper torso,
two arms descending from shoulders. And a head on top, admittedly looking
straight up and rather necklace. But that’s a human form. There’s nothing else in Latin America
that looks anything like that. But after we get away from the basic form, the staff it’s holding across
the front of its body, which is some sort of an agnathic mouth,
crossed fangs, teeth. The snake hair coming off
the head of this thing. The mouth of this creature that
is a combination of harpy, eagle, or condor beak, and, again,
a feline, crocodilian mouth. And you can just go through there and
find in this baroque infilling of stuff literally hundreds of fierce-looking
animals or their parts. What’s doing that? When we get some clues,
I can tell you where this was found. 360 degrees wrapped around a column,
about 10-feet high of cut granite-like rock,
perfect cylinder of rock. So you could only see at best
about 40% of this image. Try limiting yourself to 40% and
see what sense you can make of that. You can’t and
it’s lightly engraved to begin with. This is an art that has to have a message. You’re gonna go to that level of effort
without some sort of thought behind it? I don’t buy it, this is meaningful,
but what did it mean? We can’t know, but
I would argue they couldn’t know either. If you saw this for the first time,
you needed a priest or somebody there to tell you what it means, to let you
walk around it in guided fashion and say, you see this, you see that,
you know this connected to this. That relates to the myth we have
of this and our belief of that. This is not an open art. This is something akin
to a secret society. Something very important in societies
that seem to be moving towards statehood, in which information and the control of
knowledge about rather esoteric things, maybe myths of origin, it may be ideas
that support a social structure, a whole series of things,
are not the privilege of everyone. Really, the beginnings, perhaps more than
economic differences, of inequality. Chavin has got a lot of it and
we’re looking at images from it. Chavin is not alone, here is Peru. The red dots represent formative sites,
middle formative and late formative sites
of significant status, betrayed by the amount of
monumental architecture they have. So up and down the Andes,
people are doing similar things. I will make a chauvinist
argument about Chavin that it is a little bit more among equals. Seems that it’s the source of
more ideas than other places. But then again, I work there,
so, no, I can’t be trusted. And notice I can’t be trusted
at all because I’m gonna try to show you imagery to try to
convince you of what I’m thinking. Is that anything like what might be
happening in the origins of authority, where I might be trying
to convince you that I am the right person to be more than others,
to run the show? Well, let’s not go too far into that one. Here’s Chavin, monumental structures, truncated pyramids,
platforms, and sunken plazas, little bit hidden by some
of the eucalyptus here. Monumental in the sense
that these buildings, the central one on the middle left there
is about the size of a football field. And it’s built about 80 feet
straight up into the year. You don’t make that much of a mess
without a concerted amount of labor. From the site in the details,
which I don’t have time to go into, the roughly 800 years this site lasted,
we see consistent patterns of architectural development that suggest
the lineage of people planning this site. First time, we see this in Peru. There had been monumental
structures before. But they’re rather randomly placed and there’s no sign of a common style or
architectural tradition. Now we see that somebody is running this. And it looks like they
are a descendant group of people. One way or another,
they’re closely related to each other. And they maintain architectural
coherence over that length of time. The site itself is located
geographically in an important place, the river in the foreground. The very base of the image,
running from left to right is a tributary of the Amazon as almost
all Indian rivers are. They all flow from all the way over
on the West Coast to the East Coast, very little drains off into the Pacific. So this is an important place being on one
of those tributaries of the Amazon but it’s also where two rivers join together. One river is flowing almost directly
at us out of the White Mountains, the Cordillera Blanca, the great centre
of Alpinism or I should say go fast. 60% deglaciated in the last 20 years, 60%. We had to drive through snow fields
to get to Chavin 25 years ago. They are nowhere to be seen anywhere near
the road now, changing very very fast. But those white mountains have always
been regarded as deities in the Andes, powerful things that can
unleash avalanches of snow and ice on the towns, like Chavin below. And this happened in 1945,
killing large numbers of people, natural authority, power,
the ability to change people’s lives. Maybe a model for what humans
might try to be doing themselves. But this is what Chavin looked like at
its architectural and greatest extension. Probably about 700 BC. And you can see, again, the sunken plazas, the platforms and
the monumental buildings above. It’s consistent. It grew in a long,
difficult pattern of additions, we can find something like
51 major building events. And we think we’re missing
two thirds of them at least, because we can’t figure them out. So there’s a long architectural history. But Chavin has some special features
that we can’t really see here that we definitely need to get into. One is the way Chavin was built. A core of material you see in the upper
left hand part of this image, lines of stones select but
not work stones that are set in a formulaic clay mortar that
when it hardens is like cement. We know, we’ve dug through it. And it’s really, really difficult. We avoid, when possible, doing that. We originally called that
a fill behind the major stone walls that you see
over the rest of the image. Cut stone in the upper layers,
and that’s cut granite. These are blocks going one to five tons. And then select quartzite down at the
bottom where it looks a little bit more scrappy but it’s not cut. But it’s select and fractured
enough to make it fit conformably. We always thought these were
the strength of the site. You built the walls and
you filled inside it. Turns out we’re absolutely opposite wrong. The nuclear core is
the strength of the site and we think in every major earthquake
that this area suffered, these facades fell off. So it’s a very different
way of approaching it, gives this sense of solidity. And for 3,000 years old, that’s not bad, especially when you consider this
upper left-hand area is about, we think, 800 years exposed
with no stone cover over it. It’s very, very stable. Impressive, but that solidity is betrayed
because inside those structures, those truncated pyramids there
are a series of passageways, galleries, stone lined
tunnels in effect large enough to walk comfortably
through even for us. Sometimes a little bit more expansive, that are put together in
a labyrinthine fashion. Something like this. This represents less than half of the now
36 known gallery systems in Chavin. So they’re pervasive through all of these
structures, they go deeply underground. The one on the far right is 40 feet,
its ceiling is 40 feet below surface, it’s a tricky thing to do
in stone architecture. You’re not gonna put a wood roof in
there I’ll guarantee you that, with the overburden you’ve got to run stone
beams that are going well above ten tons. Support the weight from above, and they
were clearly designed to do just that. Yet the space you get is small,
dark, dank, not really useful for much of anything that we would think of. You can’t live there. There’s very little light, really none. Although I’ll tell you when there is. You can’t store anything there that’s perishable because it will
grow fungus very fast. It’s a nice damp, temperature
controlled environment just ideal for biological growth. So, what would they have invested all this
energy in building all this odd space for? Well, deep down in this
gallery that sort of comes nearest us with a cross
shape right at its end. The Gallery has at the crossing there, this built into it,
15 foot high monolith of granite carved with the same iconography of Chavin,
same art pattern. This is what it looks like, 3D scanned, digitally reproduced from
four different angles. We got the same fangs, snake hair,
claws on the hands, etc. First individual, deep in there. No one has ever removed it or
altered it since it was placed. Just think of how many times
you’ve seen an original, what can really only be called an idol, in
its original location 3,000 years later, especially after things like
the Spanish destruction of idolatry. We have no idea why they didn’t take
this out, they actually knew about it. So this begins to tell us something
about the site in the galleries. First off these buildings
are not fortresses, palaces, residences, market places or
anything else of the type. Neither their form, nor they’re excavated
contents suggesting any of those things. A system of temples. This is a religious
operation of some sort, and here is one of its primary images. So maybe these galleries
tended to be used in ritual. That’s an interesting thing,
fix that thought. The art like we see in the figure, is found in many places in this site,
or I should say it originally was. Here we have a tendon head, a head that
has a peg on the back so it can be stuck into the wall, and you can see the
sockets for more rimming down the line. That argue that there
were heads decorating the very upper edge of the stone walls. Generally, above the ground these stone
heads would’ve been at least 40 feet, towering above you and
in some cases, considerably more. The stone heads themselves
have striking characteristics. We can go through a sequence, starting
with the more human-like of the heads. Keep in mind Andean hair is straight. This creature doesn’t have straight hair. The eyebrows are clearly showing
rudimentary animal faces of some sort, but the rough sense of humanity is there. But as we start going from these
most human ones through to less human ones,
we see a number of characteristics emerge. One is staring eyes. These eyes, actually the pupils
are deviated from center. So they’re actually seeing
beyond infinity, you might say. They’re staring out into unimaginable
space, something is coming off the face, you might take it for a mustache but
it’s not, it’s emerging out of the nose. Some sort of flow is coming out there. A figure eight mouth,
deeply furrowed cheeks, around the sides. It’s still human but moving away. If we go along the line, we start to
see that a fang appears in the mouth. Now, the mouth is fully wrapped
around an emerging snout. Eventually, that mucous flow,
as I would argue, it is from the nose converts
into a second fang. And this is definitely not your next door
neighbor, and we end about here which is a fantasy creature I can’t
identify in the Andes at all. A dragon of some sort We
have every step between, there about 110 known heads at this point. We find one about every two years,
a new one. So what does this seem like? Well, it’s suggestive of Shamanism. Shamanism is something we have
an image of in our society that is really not close
to what it generally means. Shamanism is not a way to find yourself. Either the Shaman nor
the Shaman’s patrons. Shaman are problem solvers and
they’re very precarious because they claim to have access to nether worlds. Secret information. They’re like the beginnings
of secret societies. You say, you got a problem, lingering, nagging health problem won’t go away,
all right. I’ll take it on, but I’m gonna have to
go somewhere else to find the answer. And I’m gonna have to
go into another entity. I’m gonna transform into something else. Quite often, psychoactive drugs are used
in this process by both the Shaman and the patient. Remember, the patient may be
having health problems or it may be a group of people having
societal problems, conflicts in society. It may be problems with
the local environment. Shaman comes back with information,
tries to apply it. And if it works, or he can convince
people it works, the Shaman’s a hit. What happens if it doesn’t work? So you’ve got the power to solve this
problem and you haven’t solved it? Could it be that you have no intention,
and you’re the one that caused
it in the first place? Black magic, okay, precarious,
very definitely precarious. But we’ve never seen Shaman have temples,
massive temples like at Chavin. Yet, it keeps coming back to this idea of
transitions, secret information and such. So I have little doubt that Shamanism was
not involved in the origins of Chavin. But this has evolved. And the fact that we get a fair
amount of inventory like this where we see these transformed individuals
with the cross fangs, the snake hair. In this case,
an individual carrying a columnar object, which we are quite sure is San Pedro
cactus, close relative of Mescaline. Maybe there’s a new message here. We’re permanent. You may not see the crossed fangs,
but we are transformed for life. We have permanent communication
with that nether side. We have communication with,
to put it most simply, the gods or maybe we were born to the gods, or
maybe we’re gonna be gods when we die. There’s a lot of different
versions one can imagine. But, nonetheless,
here we’ve got something going. It looks like it’s creating a belief
that isn’t seen or maybe it is. Maybe there are ways of making it seem. Maybe there are ways of convincing people. Now before we leave the tenon heads,
I just want to give you this image. People living today on the east
side of the Andes, and especially down into the Amazon, still use a lot of the psychoactive
drugs that we argue for use in Chavin. This individual’s about to receive
a load of snuff blown through probably a blow tube,
actually used in hunting, and that snuff is going to
go into his sinuses. This is not pleasant. Try it sometime. Take a big straw, or try key or
whatever it is, load it with flour and have somebody blow it into your sinus and
see how you feel about it. You will have an involuntary reaction
which will make your cheeks furrow and pull back and your mouth is gonna pull back from
that unhappiness in your sinuses. And even with flour, I bet you’re gonna
start throwing mucus out in large quantities, nice correspondence
with our tenon heads. But, it seems very likely that we have
evidence and most archaeologists, all archaeologists that I’m aware of,
accept the idea that tenon heads represent drug use and
the paraphernalia we find at Chavin, blow tubes, little mortars,
tiny mortars appropriate for grinding sinus quantities of drugs. We think we’ve got that one tacked down. But let’s look at a few more
characteristics of the site really quickly. In the galleries, we frequently have what you see here
is a black square, a ventilator. I call them ducts now, and you’ll see why. These are tubes, really, channels somewhat
like our ducting system you’d see if the panels weren’t on the ceiling,
that interconnect spaces. Frequently, they connect to the outer
world from an internal gallery or between internal galleries, they do
both and always straight as arrows. And multiple segments of
them are straight aligned, creates a little bit of a problem. What were these really for? Probably multiple things. But here’s a gallery, a model we’ve made
of a gallery, taken the roof off, and I’ve extended sort of dowel-like features
in white and blue running thru these ducts and pointing in the direction at
that duct with force and orientation. Some of them between galleries and
some to the outside world. They’re so frequent that simple
ventilation seems to be an overkill, well overkill in this situation. And we puzzled over this in
the background of our minds until one day when we were mapping one of
these galleries for the Stanford team, one of the Stanford students said,
when the electric light system, precarious always, went out,
would it help if I went outside with a pocket mirror and
bounced sunlight into the gallery. Yeah, now we’re getting somewhere. Because we have little pocket mirror
sized coal mirrors, high grade anthracite which aren’t great at imagery but
they’re about 60% light efficient. A very common artifact at Chavin, so a student went outside with a pocket
mirror and lit up the gallery. Now that student had to stand there and
constantly adjust for the movement of the Sun. Then all of a sudden, the lack of
soot in the roofs and the ceilings, and everything, it all starts to come
together now, it’s making sense. And so, maybe they were bringing
light in through these ducts. And I went, another revelation. Yeah, there’s a duct that aims
right at the face of the lens zone. So we run over there put
the pocket mirror outside and the raking light coming in across
the engravings on that stone monolith, bring out the imagery
in no uncertain terms. Looks like 3000 years ago when
people didn’t go underground, believe me,
people were being taken underground and then a light show is being put on. To add another element, here is
the excavation of a gallery back in 2001. It’s the tiniest gallery,
it’s the little gallery that could, a lot of background to it. We didn’t quite know what to expect in
this gallery, but within about a week and a half, we got our first strombus trumpet. This is a conch, major conch shell
that’s had that spiral lopped off of it, to make it into a musical instrument,
if you will. Over time, and
that was the time of the inauguration of Alejandro Toledo as President
to the sound of strombus trumpets. Somewhat reflecting the pattern of
village authorities in the south of Peru, the [INAUDIBLE], the staff carriers who always have
a trumpet player announce their presence. Strombus trumpet. So it plugged into a whole
system background. Here’s a group of these trumpets lying on
the floor of the gallery, we found 20. We found impressions in the floor,
and fragments of broken trumpets, enough to suggest a minimum
of 50 trumpets in this 15, no, it’s 20 by 4 foot space,
many of them beautifully engraved. Well, here’s what one of these does. This is the same species. But it’s modern, modified in the same way, to give you an idea what one
sounds like in a space this big. You can guess what it would sound like in a smaller gallery. [SOUND]
So maybe noise was on their side too.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>Playing around with light, sound, space in these underground galleries, the mind through the drugs,
we’re getting somewhere. This is like a convincing system. And let me show you where that goes. I came back with the news
of these 20 trumpets that got into the Stanford Magazine. Next thing I know I’m getting
a call from Jon Chowning. Jon Chowning as you may know is
the inventor of electronic music. He was here at Stanford in Karma,
center for computer research and music and acoustics. And he’s giving me a call and
saying, John, would you like to have
an acoustic analysis of Chavin. I’m going, whoa, take me there. And he said, well, we got this starting
graduate student Miriam Color. Who’s got tremendous background
in the use of sound. She’s been setting up concerts and
special effects in concerts. She really knows what she’s doing and
we’re giving her the computational skills to understand the acoustic
settings in a variety of places. I said, bring her on. So here she is taking notes
on her Countryman speaker, this tiny speaker with
incredible fidelity, that is blasting out strombus trumpet
sound to this dandelion microphone. With its distribution of
microphones in space, it can characterize
the reverberance of the galleries. And there’s a lot of things she found out,
but let me really highlight one. Here we’re looking down
on the Lanzon Gallery. Lanzon is that little diamond right at
the middle top in the cross part of the gallery. As you come down that major shaft
leading down to the Lanzon, it terminates in that duct which I said,
casts light on the face of the Lanzon. When sunlight reflected with a pocket
mirror, that duct, you can can see, tapers in a very distinctive tapering
form, not common to most ducts. Miriam was suspicious, she said, tapering ducts are generally filters for
sound frequencies. So theoretically she calculated it up and
said, that duct will filter out all frequencies except those right
around the native voice of the trumpet. The strombus trumpet,
and then she tested it. That’s when I came into the picture,
I knew nothing about what she was doing. I walked into the circular
plaza one day and there’s Miriam with some
measuring equipment. She says, I’m measuring the sound of
a strombus trumpet being played down the gallery. And I said, well, can you play it? She said, well, and I said,
I interrupt her and I said, well, let’s wait until the trucks going
by on the road across the river. She says, there’s no truck over there. You’re hearing the strombus trumpet
being played in the gallery. That would be the equivalent, roughly
speaking of me playing the strombus trumpet in the middle of the quad and
us hearing it in here. Inexplicable, you would say,
what are we hearing? And somebody says,
it’s coming from the quad and you say, no, that would take the biggest air
horn ever imaginable, not possible. It was possible and it is possible,
we’ve got a way in which things going on in the Lanzon chamber,
which might handle five people at the most,
could be heard in a much larger space. Where a group of people would not
understand what’s being said, only the priests know that of course. Can you understand strombus trumpet? I can’t, but they know it’s happening. There is credibility being added to
something going on deep underground that you may not be privileged to be present
for, the priest wants you to believe him. If that’s not enough, the Lanzon’s mouth is aimed at the duct,
which is this filter. So a duct undoubtedly brings air in,
it probably brought light in and it probably brought sound out to
a group of potential converts, questioning whether Chavin,
Was everything it’s cracked up to be. Imagine I’m a person from some other part
of Peru, in the Andes, and I’m saying, God, I wanna be more of an authority,
but I don’t have the credibility for it. Now, my little namby-pamby
shamanism is accepted. But people aren’t saying, you’re most
eminent, you’re really important, you should be the one making
the decisions around here. I need symbols, maybe pottery,
really elaborate, high-investment pottery. I need a group of icons and imageries which only I understand,
and I can explain to some people. And that’s why I’m gonna go to Chavin,
because I’ve heard that the priests, for a price,
will explain how they do their rituals. First, you’re probably just
gonna go through the rituals and get convinced that Chavin has
really got something going. How could you go into underground spaces,
be confronted with light? There’s no light at that time,
except occasional campfires or something. But controlled light. The priest says, and
now behold the Lanzon. You’ve been in the gallery for two hours,
your eyes are totally dilated, and bam, the shaft of light comes in,
lights up the Lanzon. The drugs that you’ve got, forcing you
to mucus like crazy, are taking effect. You’re out of your place, you’re in
their place, and they’re telling you what makes the world work, and
it isn’t what you’ve ever believed before. But now you’re being impacted with
information that’s really telling you exactly what’s going on from
the priest’s point of view. You’re starting into a secret society, and
you’re gonna start rising up the ranks. You’re gonna gain the symbols and the knowledge to take this
back to your community and try to do something similar, and
get an authority pattern starting there. It’s credible, it’s based on credibility, it’s not based on force,
and so Chavin goes. Chavin is, to my mind,
a convincing system. It’s based on a series of phenomena
which have no explanation. No reasonable explanation, other than that
the people in charge of Chavin are in contact with greater powers, and they can
bring greater powers in at their command. They have a world that, when you
experience it, you could reject it, but you may have ulterior motives for not. And you may have been very
effectively convinced at the outcome that what you saw
was real and impactful, okay? So Chavin, along with the other
big monuments of this time period, is depending on
this sort of credibility. Finding ways to build it,
using creativity to change people’s minds about how social structure
should be and naturally is. Natural now has to include
this supernaturally driven aspect of human life, and that works for probably nearly 800 years. And when it comes crashing down,
it comes crashing down for a very clear reason,
coercively based society. Chavin has very little evidence of arms,
very little evidence of conquest, very little evidence of people
being sacrificed, for instance. There are human bones scattered
around Chavin, but there’s not a single image that I believe is
original that shows Chavin taking a life. But after Chavin ends, that all changes. That’s when the Moche come in. I showed you the guy sitting and waiting to receive the blood of
the sacrificed military captives. Chavin has no defense against that. There are no fortifications at Chavin. The number of arms they had is probably
small, and there’s no sign that they had any idea, really,
what to do with them in an organized way. The systems become coercive, but
that’s not where they start. They start incredibilities, the ability
to get people to believe in something, to make a model of a different world, and then show them the evidence
that that other world exists. Humans, the model builders,
we are model builders and model believers. And I don’t need to go anywhere today
to talk about how different our models can be. It’s an incredible capability that
humans have, and a incredible ability. We can believe in things that aren’t
there, and believe in them passionately. That’s part of why we’re here today. We are those evolved humans
who have this capability, well-adapted to state societies. But it’s not completely under control,
is it? So many different ways of looking
at things in the world, and Chavin expertly,
Was anticipating precisely those, using originality to rebuild society
based on what is a religion. And religion is radical. At that point, religion is used to
restructure society, when usually, religion is used to maintain the structure
of society, keep things in place. A fascinating time period. That is the Formative, and Chavin,
I think, is one of the best representatives of that time period,
and that’s where I think we came from. Patterns of credibility established by
human ingenuity, innovation, creativity. It’s a glorious story, but for the future,
we’re probably gonna have to get a hold on things somehow,
get these models under control. I have no idea, that’s for
the next generation. It’s important that we recognize
models when we see them. We all have them. Some of them lead us in good directions,
some not so good. It’s not for me to say what those are. At any rate, I think the past can
tell us a lot about who we are, and hopefully, I’ve convinced a few of you. Thank you so much.>>[APPLAUSE]

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