Peruvian Inventions

Written by karen frances
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  • Introduction

    Peruvian Inventions

    Though not rich in technical inventions, Peru has been the birthplace of many farming developments that are now part of everyday life. The Inca Empire, which predated Peru, was the source of numerous changes, spreading its techniques and culture across the Andes. Recent inventions reflect Peru's modern day need to look after the environment.

    Llamas were bred for carrying goods. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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    Llamas and Alpacas

    Llamas and alpacas were domesticated in the high Andes surrounding Lake Titicaca as early as 3500 B.C. Both animals are believed to be descendants of the wild guanaco. Although the Incas were not the first to domesticate llamas and alpacas, they did "invent" a kind of organised breeding program. Llamas were indispensable as beasts of burden for transporting goods across the Inca Empire and their meat and wool were accessible to ordinary people. The soft wool from alpacas was used in exquisite apparel wove for members of the royal family only. Alpacas were bred exclusively for important members of society. Llamas and alpacas remain important to the modern day economy and belief systems of Peru.

    Alpacas were bred for their soft wool (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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    Freeze-Dried Potatoes

    Potatoes also come from the high Andes around Lake Titicaca. Over generations, people developed a way of harnessing the cold mountain temperatures to preserve their potatoes. They spread potatoes on the ground at night until they freeze. During the day, they cover the potatoes with straw to protect them from the strong rays of the sun. Villagers then stomp on the potatoes to remove excess moisture and rinse them in a stream of running water to remove their bitter taste. Once prepared, the potatoes are edible for 4 years.

    There are hundreds of types of potatoes in Peru. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

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    Rocket Pioneer

    The inventor of the first modern rocket propulsion system was a Peruvian. Pedro Paulet was born near Arequipa, Peru in 1874 and designed, built and tested the first liquid fuel rocket engine. Paulet also designed an early spaceship prototype.

    An early interest in space led to a Peruvian invention. (David Woolley/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

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    Musical Instruments

    Many wind and percussion instruments were developed in Peru long before the arrival of the Spanish. The most emblematic instrument of Peru is the sampona, a type of pan pipe made of five or more bamboo pipes of differing sizes. One sampona does not always have the full set of notes, so the pipes are often played as a complementary pair. Another Peruvian instrument is the cajon. This is a wooden box with a round hole in the front. Players sit on the cajon and slap the front face as you would a drum.

    Samponas were originally played by women. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

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    The urban air cleaner was invented in response to the problem of pollution in the busy Peruvian capital of Lima. The 5-meter high metal structure works like a tree to remove pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air. The environmental impact of mining in the Amazon rainforest is a modern day problem for Peru. Peruvian engineer Carlos Villachica invented a simple machine to isolate gold from sand without using dangerous toxic mercury. The small machine instead uses water and biodegradable chemicals to isolate the gold.

    Cleaning the air with an artificial tree. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

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