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Caral: oldest city of the Americas, 2,600 B.C.

Updated on September 14, 2013
Valley of the Rio Supe
Valley of the Rio Supe
Road from Supe to Caral
Road from Supe to Caral
Road to the Caral ruins
Road to the Caral ruins
Caral arqueological site
Caral arqueological site
View from the Caral viewpoing
View from the Caral viewpoing
One of the Caral pyramids
One of the Caral pyramids

Caral is a large settlement in the arid Supe Valley, in the Barranca province of Peru, some 200 km north of the capital Lima and 20 km away from the Pacific coast. It is one of the most ancient cities of the Americas and possibly of the entire world. The ancient pyramids of Caral predate the Inca civilisation by 4000 years, but were flourishing a century before the pyramids of Gizeh! They are the most important archaeological discovery in Peru since Machu Picchu in 1911!

Archaeologist Ruth Shady explored the 5,000 year-old city of pyramids in the Peruvian desert, with its elaborate complex of temples, amphitheater and ordinary houses. The urban complex is spread out over 150 acres (607,000 m²) and contains plazas and residential buildings. Caral was a thriving metropolis at the time when Egypt's great pyramids were being built.

No trace of warfare has been found in Caral. Shady's findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on the basis of commerce and pleasure. Amongst the artefacts discovered are 32 flutes made from pelican and animal bones, engraved with the figures of birds and monkeys, which shows that although situated on the Pacific coast, its inhabitants knew about the animals of the Amazon.

The heart of the site covers 150 acres and contains six stone platform mounds – pyramids. The largest mound measures 154 by 138 metres, although it is only twenty metres high.

Caral’s dating of 2627 BC is beyond dispute, as it is based on carbondating reed and woven carrying bags that were found on the site. These bags were used to carry the stones used for the construction of the pyramids.
The town itself had a population of approximately 3000 people. But there are 17 other sites in the area, which allows for a possible total population of 20,000 people in the valley.

In July 2006, Caral was opened for tourism. With the support of PromPeru, and being just two hours north of Lima along the easily accessible Pan-American Highway, the number of tourists is expected to rise in the near future.

Pre-Inca history and archaeology books

Peruvian Prehistory: An Overview of Pre-Inca and Inca Society
Peruvian Prehistory: An Overview of Pre-Inca and Inca Society

Peruvian pre-history: an overview of the pre-Inca and Inca society-



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    • sylvia13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Gadea de Beer 

      8 years ago from Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia

      Thanks very much for your contribution! It was even nice to see Barranca written here as well, as it has been many years since I was in that area!

    • profile image

      Vìctor Colàn Ormeño 

      8 years ago


      Civilization was formed in the north-central area of Peru before it occurred in any other of the Americas.

      The research activities in the province of Barranca have shown that the north-central area was where civilization came into being of the Americas. Its age has been confirmed by 300 radio carbon datings, at 3500 to 1800 years before our time.

    • profile image

      Sara Mario Cordovez 

      9 years ago

      Muy interesante y muy bien escrito , se aprende de nuestras culturas precolombinas Sara


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