Caral is located 200km north of Peru and it has been argued to be the oldest urban center in the Americas – although that is under dispute. Pyramid temples, housing complexes, an amphitheater and ancient plazas are plentiful and just scream to be explored.
In 2001, researchers discovered that the ruins in Caral actually dated back 1,500 years earlier than was previously thought. A Peruvian archaeologist discovered Caral in 1994 and the planned city discovery thrilled archaeologists worldwide.
One of the benefits of visiting Caral compared to other ancient cities is that so far, it is not teeming with tourists. The most recent statistics I found suggested that there were only 25,000 visitors in 2010.
When you go, you can see archaeology happening right before your eyes as many archaeologists continue to discover more of the ruins. In addition, they are reconstructing an ancient pyramid – truly fascinating!
Be sure to take a guided tour to really get a feel for this 163-acre city. Farmers in the city used irrigation canals to provide for their crops that included squash, corn, chili peppers, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. They used the Supe River to keep the crops hydrated.
Another interesting fact of this old city of the Americas is that no traces of any carnage or warfare have been found on this huge ancient site. Thus far, the Archaeologists have found no weapons, mutilated bodies or other battle signs, suggesting it was a peaceful society. Musical instruments like flutes and cornets have been discovered.
Generally, the scientists working in this ancient city have concluded that the city and surrounding area had a social organization that included stratified ranks and much like today’s society there was an unequal distribution of wealth. They have found evidence of very rich inhabitants living it up and the very poor who barely survived.
The Government hopes that the historic, economic and cultural values of Caral will enable the area to become an international tourist destination, thus improving the living conditions of the locals and others in the country.