From the February 26, 1938, issue


Dead men’s heads on a prehistoric temple wall!

This is grim evidence of religious head-hunting in ancient Peru, reported by Donald Collier, young archaeologist, who has returned from making some remarkable discoveries in company with Peru’s most noted archaeologist, Dr. Julio Tello. Mr. Collier, son of Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier, is preparing his report for the Institute of Andean Research, which he represented.

The weird art subjects were discovered, Mr. Collier said, when the expedition unearthed a remarkable ceremonial terrace of stone on the coast of northern Peru. On some stones, they found carvings of warriors making vigorous gestures. Other portraits had no bodies but were mere cadaverous-looking faces “all cut off obviously under the chin.” (See front cover.)

“The supposition is that they had human sacrifice,” he explained, “and one form was to take human heads—whether heads of their own people or those of enemies, we don’t know.”

Mr. Collier describes the stone temple, its art, and the cemetery nearby as all revealing a new kind of culture, unlike that of other Indians who lived in Peru before the great Incan Empire was formed. These ancient Indians who built the stone temple lived perhaps around 600 A.D., or around 900 A.D.—dating them is mere guesswork, Mr. Collier says. Aside from three kinds of pottery buried in strata of earth, there is nothing to suggest passage of time, or any particular era.

This is the first discovery of a temple of giant stones on the coast land of Peru. Such temples were built in Peru’s mountains, but coast tribes used adobe architecture.

“This is the first indication,” he said, “that some of the highland people came to the coast to live and built a temple, because it must have taken several years to construct the terraced pyramid with these blocks 10 feet high and several feet thick.”

The mysterious stone workers had a highland background. But where they got their art ideas, and their plain style of pottery making, and their simple ideas of burial—very different from the elaborate mummy wrappings of some Peruvian graves—is still to be traced, so that science may fit these unknown Indians into the pattern of Peru’s prehistory.


Science now provides support for the common observation that races living on mountain heights or in northern latitudes are on the whole larger than those living at low levels and farther south. This opinion, usually held only as regards human beings, is extended to include animals as remote from man as birds and insects, in studies made by Prof. Theodosius Dobzhansky of the California Institute of Technology.

Prof. Dobzhansky bases his conclusions both on studies of specimens collected in the field and on the growth of a number of different kinds of organisms in the laboratory.

Races of mammals inhabiting cooler regions, although they may be in general larger, have shorter body appendages (tails, legs, ears) than races of the same species from warmer regions. Among birds, the same is true for the relative lengths of beak, legs, and wings. Races of mammals and birds and some invertebrates living in cooler climates are larger in body size than races of the same species in warmer climates. In mountain countries, races from higher elevations are larger than those from the lower ones.


Severe chest pain resembling that of the dreaded heart malady, angina pectoris, is in many cases due to excessive overweight, Dr. William J. Kerr, professor of medicine in the University of California Medical School, has found.

The huge “bay window” of very fat men forces them to adopt an abnormal posture which cramps the chest, causes flaring of the lower ribs, fixes the diaphragm at a low position, thus producing breathlessness and preventing the heart from getting a normal supply of oxygen. Severe pain and low blood pressure in the standing position accompany the condition. The shortness of breath is marked only in the standing position, which is contrary to the usual experience in heart failure.

The pain and other features clear up when the weight is reduced and the posture brought back to normal, Dr. Kerr discovered. Diet, properly fitted abdominal belts, and later postural exercises are used in the treatment.

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