What Ancient Civilization Lived in Peru?

Peru is a country rich in history and culture. One of the most fascinating aspects of its past is the ancient civilization that once thrived there.

This civilization, known as the Inca Empire, ruled over much of South America from the 15th to the 16th century. However, before the Inca Empire emerged, there were several other civilizations that lived in Peru. Let’s take a closer look at these ancient peoples and their contributions to Peruvian history.

The Norte Chico Civilization

The Norte Chico Civilization is considered to be one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas, dating back to around 3500 BCE. This civilization was located in what is now known as the Norte Chico region of Peru, and it was characterized by its impressive architecture and complex social organization. Despite its age, many of its structures still stand today, including the famous pyramids of Caral.

The Moche Civilization

The Moche Civilization emerged around 100 BCE in what is now northern Peru. This civilization was known for its advanced irrigation systems and intricate metalwork. The Moche people were also skilled farmers, cultivating crops like corn and beans on a large scale.

The Nazca Civilization

The Nazca Civilization lived in what is now southern Peru from around 100 BCE to 800 CE. They are most famous for their incredible geoglyphs – large designs etched into desert plains that can only be seen from above. These designs depict animals, plants, and geometric shapes and are still shrouded in mystery today.

The Wari Civilization

The Wari Civilization emerged around 600 CE in what is now central Peru. They were known for their impressive road systems which connected different parts of their empire together. They were also skilled architects, constructing large-scale structures like temples and fortresses.

The Inca Empire

Finally, we come to the most famous of Peru’s ancient civilizations – the Inca Empire. This civilization emerged in the 15th century and quickly grew to become one of the largest empires in history.

The Inca people were skilled engineers, constructing impressive structures like Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco. They were also known for their intricate textiles and pottery.


Peru’s ancient civilizations have left an indelible mark on the country’s history and culture. From the Norte Chico to the Inca Empire, each civilization brought its own unique contributions to Peruvian society. Today, visitors can see these contributions firsthand by exploring Peru’s many archaeological sites and museums.