Tour to Caral
Until recently, it was considered that the youngest civilizations would be in The Americas, but in 1994 this theory was revised with the discovery of Caral.
In the valley of the River Supe, located between the central Andes and the Pacific Ocean and about 180 kilometers from Lima lies the city of Caral, the hood city of one of the oldest civilizations in the world. In 1994 this city was (re)discovered by the Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady and in 1996 the excavations began.
The city of Caral was the administrative center of 19 local settlements that together formed the civilization Caral Supe and which is now found to be the oldest civilization in America.
Caral has existed since 2900 BC and was a pre-ceramic civilization that was mainly engaged in barter. In the beginning, cotton was exchanged which was grown for fish, sea and shellfish from settlements along the coast. Little by little, their trade network expanded to present-day Ecuador in the north and to the rainforest in the east. During the excavations, various products were found that come from these areas such as remains of fish and shellfish that occur only in Ecuador, plant remains that occur only in the rainforest, as well as plant remains and animal remains from the Andes.
The civilization of Caral was based on a deep religious background. Priests had the highest authority within the community and organized rituals and celebrations to organize and coordinate the specialized work of the various settlements. In addition, they provided order within the community, which led to a high degree of development. During their mass gatherings and celebrations, fire and music were used. In the city of Caral today one can still see many circular fire pits that aimed to keep the fire burning and numerous musical instruments have been found, made of bones of animals, which are used during the various rituals.
The civilization of Caral excelled further in scientific developments that were used on, for example, agricultural techniques such as the construction of underground irrigation channels and agricultural terraces. Furthermore, there were developments within genetics in which four different natural colors of cotton were grown. Different types of tools were manufactured for textile production. To keep their fire pits burning at very high temperatures, underground pipes were built based on the so-called Venturi effect, a technique that was only discovered and applied in Europe in 1740.
Furthermore, they had knowledge of plants and their natural healing power in which different types of plants were used for the treatment of various diseases. For example, packets have been found made from willow leaves rich in salicin, the active substance that is still found in Aspirin today and which were therefore already placed on the head in Caral 5000 years ago if one suffered from fever. In addition, they had knowledge of time and the seasons in which they were able to make climatic predictions through astronomy and had calendars. Finally, large shock-resistant buildings were built using architectural techniques that would be used in Japan 5,000 years later to make buildings more earthquake-resistant.
The largest structures in Caral were public buildings in the form of pyramids and there were also large squares where the ceremonies were held. The buildings were made of stone and decorated with decorative paint. Next to the public buildings were large residential areas where two different types of dwellings could be found. The dwellings closest to the pyramids and public buildings were for the inhabitants with the highest social status such as government employees. A second type of dwelling was of a simpler nature, these dwellings were further away from the center of the city and were for the rest of the inhabitants engaged in production work.
Caral is unique because it is the oldest civilization in America and is as much as 1,500 years older than civilization would follow.