Some of the oldest civilizations in all of Latin America came out of Peru’s tall mountains and fertile valleys. Based on arrowheads found in the Pikimachay Cave, between the mountains of Cusco and the lowlands of Lima, historians date the first Peruvian civilization from 20,000 BC. Starting in 2,900 BC, archeologists have found evidence of humans domesticating animals and growing crops. Guinea pigs and llamas were some of the first livestock, and potatoes and quinoa were among the first harvests.
Chavín (1000 BC – 200 AD)
The Chavín people formed the first major civilization in Peru, one that spread out over the mountains and lowlands of central Peru. Near the modern city of Huaraz, they left behind a temple covered in jaguars, their central deity.
Moche (220 BC – 600 AD) and Nasca (100 BC – 700 AD)
Following the decline of the Chavín, the Moche people were the next major civilization to follow in their footsteps. Archeologists have uncovered significant deposits of Moche artifacts in tombs, most significantly at Sipán, a town in northern Peru. Now nicknamed the Lord of Sipán, archeologists found the mummy of a Moche noble in a tomb that had yet to fall prey to looters. Around the same time the Moche built their elaborate tombs, the Nasca (100 BC – 700 AD) created the huge geoglyphs in the Nasca Desert we now refer to as the Nasca Lines.
Huari (600 AD – 1100 AD)
In the modern town of Ayacucho, the Huari people established a large city, complete with aqueducts and huge warehouses. Their style of building and masonry greatly influenced the Inca.