Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's Too #@*%ing Hot!

Today, it was a mere 92 degrees fahrenheit. Yesterday it was 96.  The day before that was 90-some-friggin'-unbelievable-number of degrees.  So, besides turning me into a raw, sweaty puddle of non-motivated uselessness, this totally freakish foretaste of a chilly day in Hell got me wondering: has a civilization ever been wiped-out by a heat-wave?  I think there may be a couple of contenders.

Let's start in Peru, because not only is that kooky country the home of tall mountains, steamy rainforests, narco-traffickers, an honest-to-goodness Maoist insurgency group AND used to have a Japanese dude for its president (I am SO not making this shit up!), but it can also claim not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR civilizations that were wiped-out by heat waves.  Four!  --still not making this shit up.

This sacred jaguar will now eat you.  Seriously.
The first of the famous fried-four are the Chavin, who started out in central Peru's highlands but eventually made it to the coast (they took the 605 to the 110 to the Santa Monica Freeway, exited at Pico Boulevard, passed the high school, hooked a right on Ocean and took that all the way to the Pier --no, that was some other fried civilization...)  But back to the Chavin.  They invented this crazy-ass irrigation channel that, when filled with rushing water, roars like a jaguar (the scary jungle cat, not the car), an animal they seemed to hold sacred.  This actually turned out to be a pretty cool trick but a total waste of time, after a 200-year long drought hit the Chavin and they kind of all died.

The next thirsty civ is the Moche.  These dudes lived in Peru's north coast and might have actually heard about the Chavin.  The most incredible thing the Moche did was to build this thing called El Huaca del Sol, which means "this fucking pyramid is bigger than fucking Kufu's in Egypt."  Unfortunately for the old El Huaca, the Moche were also really good goldsmiths, and when the Spaniards arrived, they partially destroyed El Huaca del Sol digging around in it for gold --and because they were dicks.  But mostly for the gold.  Luckily, none of the Moche cared about the dick-head Spanish partially destroying their Huaca because they had all died 700 years previously, victims of --you guessed it --a heat-wave (a mere 75-year drought this time).
Artist: It does too look like a monkey!
Priest: Yeah, it's a little larger than what we had discussed...

We turn our attention next to the Nazca, who you would think should have been able to tolerate the heat because they lived in a frigging desert anyway, but no, they croaked as well.  The Nazca may have been able to fly, using hot-air balloons made of cotton and vicuna fiber, but we can't be absolutely sure.  What we are absolutely sure of is that they scratched these huge pictures on the desert floor, pictures that can only be seen if you are overhead in an airplane.  Or in a hot-air balloon made of cotton and vicuna fiber.

They also made these weirdly positioned lines that pilots in the 1930's mistook to be aircraft runway markers, leading some crack-head conspiracy theorists to postulate that the Nazca were in regular contact with ancient aliens who were astronauts and pilots, which is a way-more plausible explanation than the one that says the Nazca worshipped sky-gods who liked the pictures the Nazca drew for them in the desert.  I personally think that the Nazca just had a bunch of free time and thought it would be cool to draw a sand picture that nobody except wicked-tall people could see.  We may never know for sure, because as I mentioned above, they all died from drought.

The last of the parched Peruvian civilizations to go extinct due to a heat-wave is the Tiwanaku, a jolly bunch who lived on the shores of Lake Titicaca (stop snickering!) and were given the final push into oblivion by Pachacuit Inca Yupanqui around 1445.  The Tiwanaku practiced this amazing kind of farming that required irrigation ditches, raised bed planting, terraced fields, fish and irrigation sludge, all of which was maintained by thousands of people and overseen by a guy we're pretty sure everyone thought was related to the sun.  In the sky.  For real.  The Tiwanaku somehow managed to almost survive the heat-wave that practically boiled-off Lake Titicaca (I mean it!), so it's kind of a shame that the Inca deep-sixed them in the end.
This is the Gate of the Sun, which used to be lakeside.
Note the absence of any and all lake.
I could go on and mention the proto-civilization that made its home in the Sahara back when it was temperate, green and dotted with many lakes; or introduce you to the residents of Mesa Verde, the earliest example of cliff-side condominium construction; or tell you about those crazy-ass Africans who built the Great Zimbabwe in, well, Zimbabwe, but it's hotter than the hammers of Hell and my laptop is about to go super-critical and create a fusion reaction on my lap.  So just remember: hot weather can be dangerous.  Your whole civilization just might burn down, fall over and turn into desert.  I'm pretty sure my civilization is headed that way --that, or else those ancient astronautic aliens will show up looking for the Nazca, not like what we've done with the place since their last visit, and turn the Earth into an interstellar rest area.
Tell me one more time: why did you stop
drawing those cute pictures in the desert?

1 comment:

  1. Remember the difference between climate and weather. Climate is temperature and precipitation trends over many years. Weather is just what it's doing outside today.