American Society of Civil Engineers

There Were Giants on the Earth in Those Days

by George F. Sowers, F.ASCE, (Regents Professor of Civ. Engrg., Georgia Inst. of Tech., Atlanta, Ga. 30332; also Sr. Vice Pres., Law Engrg. Testing Co., 2749 Delk Road, S.E., Marietta, Ga. 30067)

Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division
, Vol. 107, No. 4, April 1981, pp. 383-419

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Document type: Journal Paper
Discussion: by N. J. Schnitter    (See full record)
Abstract: There are numerous examples of noteworthy pre-Columbian geotechnology in the Americas. These include earth mounds, stone temple pyramids, pile foundations, roads, retaining walls, terraces, irrigation structures, and small dams. They exhibit well-conceived designs and organized construction. Some investigators speculate that these sophisticated works reflect unrecorded technology from the Old World or possibly extra-terrestial intervention. However, the responsibility can be found in both indigeneous, ingeneous responses to local social and economic problems as well as well-organized community efforts. The lack of a formal system of logic, mathematical computation, and written communication inhibited the development and interaction of the embryonic technologies. Their decay was completed by the European conquest.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Historic sites
Construction methods
Social factors