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Caral - the The Oldest City in the Americas!


The ruins of Caral are located in the Peruvian Supe Valley's desert, at about 120 km (75 mi) from the capital Lima. It is closest to the coastal town of Puerto Supe - which is 22 km (14 mi) inland from the archaeological site.

It covers and area of 66 ha and consists of several square-based ruins.


Caral is not an Inca site. The city was built by the pre-Incan Norte Chico civilization about 5.000 years ago.

This city was inhabited approximately between 2.627 B.C. and 2.020 B.C. and it is the oldest city in the Americas.

Interestingly there are findings that are over 11.000 years old (dated 9.120 B.C.), which means that the area was inhabited that long time ego, even though the city must not have existed yet.


The complex of Caral includes houses, an amphitheatre, temples and pyramids.


The ruins were discovered in 1905 and almost forgotten until scientists led by Ruth Shady started excavating it in 1994.




The Pyramids of Caral and the Region


The Caral area includes 19 pyramids. These were all built around 5.000 years ago.

Sunken plazas and platform mounds are characteristic to this city.


The largest pyramid at Caral has a base of 150 m x 160 m (492 ft x 525 ft) and a height of 18 m (59 ft) . The height is comparable to the height of a 5-6 story building.


Caral must have thrived before the Egyptian pyramids of Giza were constructed.


Specialists estimate Caral's population to be around 3.000, but there are 17 sites in the area and all together the area could have been home to approximately 20.000.

Approximately 30 localities were inhabited by the Norte Chico civilization and Caral was the biggest one. All others are much smaller. This could have been a center of the region.

The total population of the Norte Chico could have been around 50.000.


The Mayas, the Egyptians and the Aztecs have all constructed pyramids. Some see a "link" between these civilizations and others even think that there must be some kind of an alien connection...


Why did they build pyramids?

The answer could be very simple: perhaps the pyramid was one of the easiest structures to build. The large base supports everything and it is really a simple design.

Buildings pyramids was certainly easier than constructing straight-walled structures.




Interesting Findings at Caral


Interestingly no ceramics were found at this site. Caral predates the so-called "ceramic period". Specialists affirm that the population of Caral did not cook its food.

37 cornets of llama and deer bones and 32 flutes made of pelican and condor bones were found on site.

Some might dream about valuable objects, but no such things were found at Caral.


Possible Links to the Inca Civilization?


Some findings show links to the Incas. Objects similar and identical to Incan ones were found at Caral.

One of these is the quipu - knotted rope message record. The Incas did not write, but they used quipus for sending and recording messages/events. Normally the quipu consists of a main rope onto which smaller ones are tied. The latter ones have different colours and different numbers of knots on them. This was a way to code messages.

The chasquis (Inca messengers) would run hundreds of kilometers/miles in a few days bringing quipus from one place to another.


It is possible that the quipus found have no direct link to the Incas. Other pre-Incan civilizations have been using the quipus and the Incas simply adopted the technique.


The Inca quipus were more complex than the ones found at Caral. Perhaps this is another reason why most people don't believe that these are Incan ones.


The quipus found at Caral may never be deciphered. We have absolutely no idea about what they meant and possibly their sense would not be of great importance. Anything from stocks to natural calamities could have been recorded and it is highly possible that most messages were simple ones relating to the daily life of the Norte Chico people.




Caral Abandoned...


According the archaeologists, the city of Caral was abandoned about 500 years after its construction. This means at about 4.5000 years ago. At around 2.1000 B.C., the population fled. Why? We do not know, as usually...

Theories point out to drought. This area wasn't covered by desert 4.500 years-ago. It must have been a greener area and then, the climate could have changed, reason why the locals could have moved to some other area.

No signs of destruction, violence were found on site.




The Forgotten Ancient City


For a long time the Caral pyramids were mistakenly believed to be natural hills.

Due to the erosion, the untrained eye could think that these indeed were only hills.


The site of Caral is rarely mentioned in guidebooks and you might never see anything on TV about it. There simply isn't much to tell, the questions are more than the answers and not much has remained of the buildings.


Certainly Caral is far from the massive Teotihuacán Pyramid in Mexico and the rainforest city of Tikal in Guatemala. You will see plenty of documentaries about them on many TV channels.


Caral seems boring and it is hardly accessible, situated in the arid coastal desert of Peru. Treasure hunters don't come here and not even archaeologists are interested in this place, when there are so many other well-preserved archaeological attractions in the country.




Getting to Caral


There isn't much to see in Caral, so we don't recommend you to visit it unless you are very enthusiastic about desert travel and are interested in this from the archaeological point-of-view.



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