In Search of Ancient Engineers

by George F. Sowers, (F.ASCE), Sr. Vice Pres.; Law Engineering Testing Co., 2749 Delk Rd., S. E., Marietta, Ga. 30067,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1983, Vol. 53, Issue 10, Pg. 46-50

Document Type: Feature article


Many examples of pre-Columbian civil works have been uncovered in North and South America. Some reflect well-organized technologies comparable to those of the Old World of the same time period. Earthen mounds, pyramids, walls and fortifications, highways, and water management systems exhibit both well-conceived designs and organized effort for construction. This article, based on the paper There Were Giants in Those Days° (previously published in the Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, ASCE April 1981), examines some of the major structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas, how they were built, and the innovations in construction which they represented. The author also compares the development of Western technology with that of the pre-Columbian Americas and debunks allegations of assistance from Old World visitors and even extra-terrestrials.

Subject Headings: Highway and road design | Infrastructure construction | Geotechnical engineering | Professional societies | Walls | Highway and road management | Water management | Systems management | South America

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