Ask almost anyone to name a pre-Columbian civilization of South America and they will most likely say the Inca and with good reason. At their peak these master stonebuilders of the high mountains ruled an empire which stretched the length of the continent, and their ruins litter the Andes to this day.
But the Inca were famous not because they were first, or greatest, but because they were last: like the Aztecs this civilization looms large because they were the people who made contact with the first European settlers. The truth is, Peru is filled with the traces of other, older and stranger civilizations, who were either absorbed by the conquering Inca or lost to time. Here are ten of the most prominent.
1. The Chavin
2. The Chimu
3. The Moche
4. The Sechin
5. The Chachapoyas
6. The Sican
7. The Huari
8. The Nazca
9. The Tiwanaku
10. The Chico Norte
Top Image: The Tiwanaku Gate of the Sun on Lake Titicaca. Source: Dennis Jarvis / CC BY-SA 2.0.
By Joe Green
Kuoda, 2022. Pre-Incan Civilizations in Peru. Available at: https://www.kuodatravel.com/how-to-travel-peru/ancient-peru/pre-incan-civilizations/
Peru for Less, 2011. Pre-Incan Civilizations in Peru and the Ancient Andes. Available at: https://www.peruforless.com/blog/pre-incan-civilizations/
Britannica, 2022. Andean Civilization. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/pre-Columbian-civilizations/Andean-civilization