Considered the cradle of civilization in the Americas, the Sacred City of Caral-Supe is a 5,000-year-old complex of pyramids and sunken circular courts only just discovered in 1948. Its discovery may help to answer many questions archaeologists still have regarding the origins of Andean civilizations and the development of the planet’s first cities.
To put things into perspective, the City of Caral-Supe was thriving around the same time the Egyptians were building their pyramids. The city’s layout and architecture are a testament to Caral society’s complexity as a socio-political state, while artifacts found at the site, like the quipu (the same knot system the Incas later used to record information), reveal the civilization’s impact on later Andean civilizations.
Located on a dry desert terrace overlooking the fertile Supe River Valley (about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Lima), the City of Caral-Supe is believed to have been the urban center for a society that stretched across 18 nearby urban settlements, covering 91 square kilometers (35 square miles) of the Supe Valley. Their total estimated population was likely around 20,000 people.
Despite having been built in the Late Archaic Period (between 3000 to 1800 BC), the archaeological site is still largely intact. Archaeologists attribute this to its late discovery and early abandonment. The site was only occupied twice more after the original civilization abandoned it: once around 1000 BC and a second time between 900 and 1400 AD Furthermore, the site’s location outside the main city of Barranca and its lack of gold and silver mean there was little reason for anyone to disturb the site over the years.
In 2009, the City of Caral-Supe was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its still visible representation of Late Archaic architecture and town planning, the highly-developed and complex culture that once inhabited it, and their influence on later Andean civilizations.
As the America’s most ancient city, a visit to the City of Caral-Supe should definitely be on your Peru vacation itinerary. Speak to a Kuoda Travel Designer today about your travel options from Lima.