The Sacred City of Caral-Supe is considered to be the cradle of civilization in the Americas. This archeological site of an urban settlement belonged to the complex and fully developed Supé-state. It was constructed between 3000-1800 BC, in the same timeframe as the the works of the Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians.
Caral is one of 18 settlements in the fertile Supe river valley. On a dry desert terrace, the Supé built a monumental settlement measuring 66 ha. The structures were mostly made of stone, with some woodwork. The site consists of the upper half and lower half of the city (including 6 pyramids), the outlying sector with residential units and the archeological site of Chupacigarro. There a geoglyph and astronomical observation points have been found.
The complexity of the Supé civilization is shown by the discovery here of the first quipu
, a system of knots to record information. The site is seen as the “Mother Culture” of the Peruvian civilizations, that ended with the Inca.
Caral-Supé was excavated relatively late, in 1994, although it had been discovered already in 1905.
Visit May 2011
This is a WHS to love. I had not visited a site so inaccessible and obscure since Romania’s Dacian Fortresses last year. Only one WHS “collector” had been here before me. I had some trouble fitting it into my Peru itinerary myself. At first I wanted to go there on a day trip from Lima, but these tours are very expensive and it takes over 3 hours one way to get at Caral. After some reshuffling I decided to visit it from the nearest city, Barranca, and spent a night there. This also breaks the long trip from Huaraz to Lima or the south of Peru in two.
My hotel in Barranca easily connected me to a driver for a half day trip out there for 25 EUR. The road is now almost fully paved, so it takes only half an hour by car from Barranca to get at Caral. During the months from December to May it is impossible to cross the river to access the archeological site. My driver did not want to take any chances, although the water level seemed pretty low to me. So we drove to the other access point somewhat to the east. From there you have to cross a bridge on foot, and walk 2km to the site. It is signposted well, and there also is a guard posted at the start of the foot path. This way you end up at the other side of the complex from the visitor center, so you’ll have to walk a little more to get your ticket.
I did not know what to expect, but this is an enormous complex of pyramids, temples and other structures almost hidden in a valley in the desert. It is pretty well preserved (and sometimes restored), much better than Pachacamac for example. The natural setting is almost surreal, like a moon landscape. It was and is a fertile area however, due to the Supé-river that crosses the valley. The river banks are still used for agriculture.
I hired a guide to show me around. This tour of about an hour only gave me a glimpse into the world of the Supé. Much is still unknown too. The walls of the buildings were painted yellow, some of the paint is still there. They used a kind of nets to carry the stones that were used in construction – the remains can be seen. No cemeteries have been found, only the remains of a sacrificed young man have been discovered and those of several children that died of natural causes.
There is much more to tell about this fascinating site. After my visit I read the full nomination file, which is very much recommended. Despite its remote location, the complex is well geared to receive visitors. There’s also an info center on site where some of the objects that have been found at Caral are shown.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|Billi Hope (Australia):|
It was wonderful! I loved Every minute of it. So historical and beautiful. We watched some Peruvians dances around the site and dig.
| Date posted: March 2011|
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