Peru is a country with a rich history, boasting many ancient civilizations that have left their mark on the land. One of the most well-known and influential of these civilizations is the Inca Empire, which ruled over much of Peru from the 13th to the 16th century. But before the Inca Empire, there were other civilizations that called Peru home.
So, what is the oldest civilization in Peru? And what is the ancient city of the Incas called? Let’s explore.
Oldest Civilization in Peru
The oldest civilization in Peru dates back to around 3200 BCE and is known as the Norte Chico civilization. This pre-Columbian civilization was located in what is now the Norte Chico region of modern-day Peru and was one of six civilizations to develop independently in this area.
The Norte Chico civilization was notable for its advanced agricultural techniques, including irrigation systems and terracing. They also built impressive structures using large stone blocks, some of which can still be seen today.
Ancient City of the Incas
The ancient city most commonly associated with the Inca Empire is Machu Picchu. This iconic site was built in the mid-15th century and served as a royal estate for Inca leaders until it was abandoned during the Spanish conquest.
Machu Picchu is located high in the Andes Mountains and can only be accessed by foot or by train. Its stunning location and impressive stone structures have made it one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America.
But Machu Picchu was not actually a city – it was more like a retreat or vacation home for Inca rulers. The capital city of the Inca Empire was Cusco, which served as both a political and religious center.
The Importance of Cusco
Cusco was founded by Manco Capac, the first Inca ruler, in the early 13th century. It quickly grew into a major city and became the capital of the Inca Empire under the reign of Pachacuti.
The city was laid out in the shape of a puma, an important symbol in Inca culture. It was home to impressive structures like the Temple of the Sun and the Sacsayhuaman fortress.
Cusco was also an important religious center, with many temples dedicated to various gods and goddesses. The most important of these was Inti, the sun god, whose cult played a central role in Inca religion.
Peru is home to many ancient civilizations, each with its own unique history and legacy. The Norte Chico civilization represents the oldest known civilization in Peru, while Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic sites associated with the Inca Empire. But Cusco was truly at the heart of Inca culture and remains an important cultural center to this day.