History of Peru - Pre-Columbian Cultures

Pre-Columbian Cultures

See also: Cultural periods of Peru

Hunting tools dating back to more than 11,000 years have been found inside the caves of Pachacamac, Telarmachay, Junin and Lauricocha. Some of the oldest civilizations appeared circa 6000 BC in the coastal provinces of Chilca and Paracas, and in the highland province of Callejón de Huaylas. Over the following three thousand years, inhabitants switched from nomadic lifestyles to cultivating land, as evidence from sites such as Jiskairumoko, Kotosh and Huaca Prieta demonstrates. Cultivation of plants such as corn and cotton (Gossypium barbadense) began, as well as the domestication of animals such as the wild ancestors of the llama, the alpaca and the guinea pig. Inhabitants practiced spinning and knitting of cotton and wool, basketry and pottery.

As these inhabitants became sedentary, farming allowed them to build settlements and new societies emerged along the coast and in the Andean mountains. The first known city in all of the America was Caral, located in the Supe Valley 200 km north of Lima. It is the oldest city in America and was built in approximately 2500 BC.

What is left from the civilization, also called, are about 30 pyramidical structures built up in receding terraces ending in a flat roof; some of them measured up to 20 meters in height. Caral is one of six world centers of the rise of civilization.

In the early 21st century, archeologists have discovered new evidence of ancient pre-Ceramic complex cultures. In 2005 Tom D. Dillehay and his team announced the discovery of three irrigation canals that were 5400 years old, and a possible fourth that is 6700 years old, all in the Zaña Valley in northern Peru, evidence of community activity to support improved agriculture at a much earlier date than previously believed. In 2006, Robert Benfer and a research team discovered a 4200-year-old observatory at Buena Vista, a site in the Andes several kilometers north of present-day Lima. They believe the observatory was related to the society's reliance on agriculture and understanding the seasons. The site includes the oldest three-dimensional sculptures found thus far in South America. In 2007 the archeologist Walter Alva and his team found a 4000-year-old temple with painted murals at Ventarrón, in the northwest Lambayeque region. The temple contained ceremonial offerings gained from exchange with Peruvian jungle societies, as well as those from the Ecuadoran coast. Such finds show sophisticated, monumental construction requiring large-scale organization of labor, suggesting that hierarchical, complex cultures arose in South America much earlier than scholars had thought.

Many other civilizations developed and were absorbed by the most powerful ones such as Kotosh, Chavin, Paracas, Lima, Nasca, Moche, Tiwanaku, Wari, Lambayeque, Chimu and Chincha, among others. The Paracas culture emerged on the southern coast around 300 BC. They are known for their use of vicuña fibers instead of just cotton to produce fine textiles—innovations that did not reach the northern coast of Peru until centuries later. Coastal cultures such as the Moche and Nazca flourished from about 100 BC to about AD 700: the Moche produced impressive metalwork, as well as some of the finest pottery seen in the ancient world, while the Nazca are known for their textiles and the enigmatic Nazca lines.

These coastal cultures eventually began to decline as a result of recurring el Niño floods and droughts. In consequence, the Huari and Tiwanaku, who dwelt inland in the Andes became the predominant cultures of the region encompassing much of modern-day Peru and Bolivia. They were succeeded by powerful city-states, such as Chancay, Sipan, and Cajamarca, and two empires: Chimor and Chachapoyas culture These cultures developed relatively advanced techniques of cultivation, gold and silver craft, pottery, metallurgy, and knitting. Around 700 BC, they appear to have developed systems of social organization that were the precursors of the Inca civilization.

Not all Andean cultures were willing to offer their loyalty to the Incas as the Incas expanded their empire, and many were openly hostile. The people of the Chachapoyas culture were an example of this, but the Inca eventually conquered and integrated them into their empire.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Peru

Other articles related to "cultures, culture":

Pre-Columbian Cultures - South America
... Period Dates Cultures Ceramic Late Horizon 1476 CE – 1534 CE Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia Inca Empire Brazil Cambeba Late Intermediate 1000 CE ...
Chiclayo - History - Pre-Columbian Cultures - Lambayeque Culture
... The Lambayeque culture or Sican existed between the years A.D ... This culture was formed towards the end of the Moche civilization assimilating much of their knowledge and cultural traditions ... The Lambayeque culture's civilization was divided into three phases or stages Early stage (700–900) Intermediate stage (900–1100) Late stage (1100–1350) The ...

Famous quotes containing the word cultures:

    There has never been in history another such culture as the Western civilization M a culture which has practiced the belief that the physical and social environment of man is subject to rational manipulation and that history is subject to the will and action of man; whereas central to the traditional cultures of the rivals of Western civilization, those of Africa and Asia, is a belief that it is environment that dominates man.
    Ishmael Reed (b. 1938)