Peru Travel: Peru’s Ancient Cultures

Peru Travel: Peru’s Ancient Cultures

Most people interested in Peru travel have heard about the Incas, the ancient culture that built the famous and impressive Machu Picchu and was conquered by the Spanish around 1530. However, what you might not know is that Peru was once filled with numerous ancient cultures, and pieces of these long-lost cultures are scattered all across Peru. Here are several places and cultures you should know about, and be sure to visit during your Peru tour.

Caral. Located near the coast a few hundred miles north of Lima, in the Supe Valley, Caral is a city with a massive urban center that stretches across 626 hectares. Not much is known about the society that built Caral, but this is the oldest known city in the Americas, beating cities in Mexico by at least one thousand years. Excavations only began in 1996 so there is still much to discover at this site. Right now the site isn’t very impressive to the average eye-just lots of sandy remains of temples-but knowing you’re in a city that developed at the same time as those in ancient Egypt is impressive.

Chavin de Huantar. This site is located in central northern Peru, near Huaraz. This is the largest early culture known to have developed in the Andean region, and Peru. But the major importance of Chavin de Huantar is its strong use of art. Their society was strongly based around religion, and they believed in a feline deity. Visitors can expect to find jaguar carvings throughout the site. This society was most powerful from 1,000 BC to 300 BC. One of the most impressive things guests notice when they visit the site is the maze of galleries beneath the temple. One has a five meter high rock that is carved as a deity called the Lanzon.

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The Wari. From 600 to 1100 AD the Wari developed into a massive society that spread from its hub in the Andes around Ayacucho all the way to modern-day Chiclayo and Cusco. Although the Incas are often credited with the impressive agricultural terraces still visible in Peru today, it was actually the Wari who developed this growing system. The Wari were a conquering culture, meaning they took over small and less powerful cultures and integrated with them. However, their building structure was not as good as the Incas, so not too many Wari ruins are left intact, although you can visit the 1,500 hectare Wari city outside of Ayacucho.