Which Ancient Civilization Lived in South America?

South America is a continent that is rich in culture, history, and ancient civilizations. Many people are familiar with the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, but few are aware of the fascinating cultures that existed in South America. In this article, we will explore which ancient civilization lived in South America and learn about their unique contributions to the world.

The Inca Civilization

The Inca civilization was one of the most advanced and powerful civilizations to have existed in South America. They were located in what is now modern-day Peru and ruled from the early 13th century until the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in 1532. The Inca Empire was known for its impressive infrastructure, including a vast network of roads and bridges, aqueducts, and agricultural terraces.

Religion: The Inca religion was polytheistic and centered around the worship of nature gods. The most important deity was Inti, the sun god.

Social Structure: The society was divided into three classes: nobility, commoners, and slaves. The emperor held absolute power over all citizens.

Architecture: The Incas were known for their impressive architecture. They built massive stone structures without the use of mortar or cement.

Machu Picchu

One of the most famous examples of Incan architecture is Machu Picchu. This ancient city is located high in the Andes Mountains and is believed to have been built as a royal estate for Emperor Pachacuti in the mid-15th century.

  • The city was abandoned during the Spanish conquest but remained hidden until it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.
  • Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

The Moche Civilization

The Moche civilization was located in what is now modern-day Peru and existed from around 100 to 700 AD. The Moche people were known for their impressive art and pottery, which depicted scenes of everyday life, politics, and religion.

Religion: The Moche religion was polytheistic and centered around the worship of nature gods. They also believed in human sacrifice.

Social Structure: The society was divided into classes based on wealth and occupation. The ruling class held the most power.

Art and Pottery: The Moche people were known for their intricate pottery that depicted vivid scenes of everyday life, politics, and religion.

Moche Pottery

The Moche pottery was made using a technique called stirrup spout. This involved creating a small hole in the top of the pot and attaching a spout to it. The spout was shaped like a stirrup and allowed for easy pouring.

  • The Moche pottery is highly valued by collectors today due to its intricate designs and historical significance.
  • The artwork on the pottery has helped historians learn more about Moche culture and daily life.

The Nazca Civilization

The Nazca civilization was located in what is now modern-day Peru from around 100 BC to 800 AD. They are best known for their famous Nazca Lines, massive geoglyphs etched into the desert floor that depict animals, plants, humans, and geometric shapes.

Religion: The Nazca religion was polytheistic with a focus on fertility gods. They also believed in ancestor worship.

Social Structure: Little is known about the social structure of Nazca society as no written records have been found.

Nazca Lines: The Nazca Lines are a series of massive geoglyphs etched into the desert floor. They are believed to have been created by removing the top layer of rocks and soil to reveal the lighter colored earth below.

Nazca Lines Mystery

The purpose of the Nazca Lines is still shrouded in mystery. Some theories suggest they were used for astronomical purposes, while others believe they had religious significance.

  • The Nazca Lines were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
  • Visitors can take a tour of the Nazca Lines from nearby towns.

Conclusion

South America is home to many ancient civilizations that have left their mark on history. From the impressive infrastructure of the Inca Empire to the intricate pottery of the Moche civilization, each culture has contributed something unique to our understanding of the world. By exploring these civilizations and their contributions, we gain a greater appreciation for the rich cultural history of South America.