Caral: Model culture of a peaceful people?
So far, the archaeologists have found tools made of stone (metal was not there yet), vessels, carrying nets, textiles, offerings, musical instruments, food and intoxicants, excrement and the remains of two children – but no evidence of weapons.
Also under the uncovered architecture were no protective buildings or fortifications such as battlements. That’s amazing, compared to other ancient sites in Peru, which often had elaborate defenses. One reason for this could have been the rather remote location in the distance to the coast. At first glance, this choice of location is difficult to explain – the area is inhospitable, a sandy, boulder-covered mountain range and high plateau of sand and rocky debris.
It becomes more understandable when one considers the floods caused by the climatic phenomenon of El Niño on the coast and the frequent subsequent periods of drought.
The inhabitants of Caral may have fled the uncontrolled water – and then became experts in harnessing the precious waters, slopes, and currents of existing rivers in the otherwise arid region through complex irrigation systems. America’s first irrigation system was invented in Caral – and in the course of this civilization it was supplemented by terraces on the banks of the River Supe.
These channels through the valley made the cultivation of cotton, beans and pumpkin possible. In addition, the population of Caral of sea creatures from the still not so far away Pacific lived, as found herringbone and mussels prove. All in all, not more than 3,000 residents had to be cared for in Caral – and probably more for his weddings.
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From Lima you drive to Caral about two to three hours, depending on the means of transport. It is worth a visit, because so far relatively few tourists make this detour.
Online as well as locally in Lima, various tour operators offer tours whose prices vary enormously. But you can also have a particularly authentic experience by simply using public transport if you do not want to book a car or your own driver.
Anyway, you have no choice on site: Without a guided tour and accompanied by a guide, the site must not be entered. Once you’re in the area, on the way back, you can also take along some of the other attractions – such as Barranca Playa and the Christ figure on the cliffs. If you want to stay overnight, you will find hotels in both Supe and Barranca.
If you would like to book your visit directly from Lima and are particularly interested in archaeologists, you should take advantage of the offer of the archaeological institute responsible for the excavations. It offers tours for about 95 Soles especially on weekends. The trip leaves early in the morning from the Ministerio de la Cultura; Around 8 pm it will be back in the evening. These tours are very popular and quickly sold out; It is best to reserve a seat two weeks in advance!