Norte Chico civilization
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Norte Chico (also known as Caral or Caral-Supe) was a complex pre-Columbian-era society that included as many as thirty major population centers in what is now the Caral region of north-central coastal
Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = National seal , national_motto ...

Peru
. The civilization flourished between the fourth and second millennia BC, with the formation of the first city generally dated to around 3500 BC, at
HuaricangaHuaricanga is the earliest city of the Norte Chico civilization The Caral Civilization (also Norte Chico civilization or Caral-Supe civilization)The name is disputed. English-language sources use es, Norte Chico , lit=Little North, label=none) ...
, in the
Fortaleza Fortaleza (, locally , Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country loca ...
area. It is from 3100 BC onward that large-scale human settlement and communal construction become clearly apparent, which lasted until a period of decline around 1800 BC. Since the early twenty-first century, it has been established as the oldest-known civilization in the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to East and West. ''North'' ...

Americas
. This civilization flourished along three rivers, the
Fortaleza Fortaleza (, locally , Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country loca ...
, the Pativilca, and the Supe. These river valleys each have large clusters of sites. Farther south, there are several associated sites along the Huaura River. The alternative name, Caral-Supe, is derived from the city of
Caral Caral, or Caral-Supe, was a large settlement in the Supe Valley, near Supe, Barranca Province, Peru, some north of Lima. Caral is the most ancient city of the Americas and a well-studied site of the Norte Chico civilization. The city was declare ...

Caral
in the Supe Valley, a large and well-studied Caral-Supe site. Complex society in Caral-Supe arose a millennium after
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclo ...

Sumer
in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
, was contemporaneous with the
Egyptian pyramids The Egyptian pyramids are ancient Pyramid (geometry), pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 118 or 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids. Most were built as tombs for the coun ...
, and predated the
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical and important region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human geography), and the interaction of humanity and th ...
n
Olmec The Olmecs () were the earliest known major Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western ...
by nearly two millennia. In
archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological, ...

archaeological
nomenclature, Caral-Supe is a pre-ceramic culture of the pre-Columbian Late Archaic; it completely lacked
ceramic A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials made by shaping and then firing a nonmetallic mineral, such as clay, at a high temperature. Common examples are earthenware, porcelain, and brick. ...

ceramic
s and apparently had almost no visual art. The most impressive achievement of the civilization was its monumental architecture, including large earthwork
platform mound A platform mound is any earthworks (archaeology), earthwork or mound intended to support a structure or activity. It typically refers to a flat-topped mound, whose sides may be pyramidal. Eastern North America The Native Americans in the United ...
s and sunken circular
plaza A town square (or square, plaza, public square, city square, urban square, or piazza) is an open public space A public space is a place that is generally open and accessible to people. Roads (including the pavement), public squares, park ...

plaza
s. Archaeological evidence suggests use of
textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery, o ...

textile
technology and, possibly, the worship of common deity symbols, both of which recur in pre-Columbian
Andean The Andes, Andes Mountains or Andean Mountains ( es, Cordillera de los Andes) are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America South America is a continent e ...

Andean
cultures. Sophisticated government is presumed to have been required to manage the ancient
Caral Caral, or Caral-Supe, was a large settlement in the Supe Valley, near Supe, Barranca Province, Peru, some north of Lima. Caral is the most ancient city of the Americas and a well-studied site of the Norte Chico civilization. The city was declare ...

Caral
. Questions remain over its organization, particularly the influence of food resources on politics. Archaeologists have been aware of ancient sites in the area since at least the 1940s; early work occurred at
Aspero Aspero is a well-studied Late Preceramic site of the ancient Norte Chico civilization, located at the mouth of the Supe river on the north-central Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_ ...

Aspero
on the coast, a site identified as early as 1905, "We see the site as a 'peaking' of an essentially non-agricultural economy. Subsistence was still, basically, from the sea. But such subsistence supported a sedentary style of life, with communities of appreciable size." and later at Caral, farther inland. In the late 1990s, Peruvian archaeologists, led by
Ruth Shady Ruth Martha Shady Solís (born December 29, 1946, Callao, Perú) is a Peruvian anthropology, anthropologist and archeology, archaeologist. She is the founder and director of the archaeological project at Caral. Throughout her career, she has direc ...
, provided the first extensive documentation of the civilization with work at Caral. A 2001 paper in ''
Science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the u ...
'', providing a survey of the Caral research, and a 2004 article in ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and ...
'', describing fieldwork and
radiocarbon dating Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material Organic matter, organic material, or natural organic matter refers to the large source of ...
across a wider area, revealed Caral-Supe's full significance and led to widespread interest.


History and geography

The dating of the Caral-Supe sites has pushed back the estimated beginning date of complex societies in the Peruvian region by more than one thousand years. The Chavín culture, circa 900 BC, had previously been considered the first civilization of the area. Regularly, it still is cited incorrectly as such in general works. The discovery of Caral-Supe also has shifted the focus of research away from the
highland Highlands or uplands are any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, upland (or uplands) refers to ranges of hills, typically up to . Highland (or highlands) is usually reserved for ranges of low mountains. Highland ...

highland
areas of the Andes and lowlands adjacent to the mountains (where the Chavín, and later
Inca The Inca Empire ( qu, Tawantinsuyu,  "four parts together"), also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was in the c ...

Inca
, had their major centers) to the Peruvian
littoral The littoral zone or nearshore is the part of a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface o ...
, or coastal regions. Caral is located in a north-central area of the coast, approximately 150 to 200 north of
Lima Lima ( ; ) is the capital and the largest city of Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol ...

Lima
, roughly bounded by the Lurín Valley on the south and the Casma Valley on the north. It comprises four coastal valleys: the Huaura Valley, Huaura, Supe Valley, Supe, Pativilca Valley, Pativilca, and Fortaleza Valley, Fortaleza. Known sites are concentrated in the latter three, which share a common coastal plain. The three principal valleys cover only 1,800 km², and research has emphasized the density of the population centers. The Peruvian littoral appears an "improbable, even aberrant" candidate for the "pristine" development of civilization, compared to other world centers. It is extremely arid, bounded by two rain shadows (caused by the Andes to the east, and the Pacific trade winds to the west). The region is punctuated by more than 50 rivers that carry Andean snowmelt. The development of widespread irrigation from these water sources is seen as decisive in the emergence of Caral-Supe;"The claim in this ''Science'' 'News of the Week' column that Caral is the oldest urban center in the Americas is highly uncertain." since all of the monumental architecture at various sites has been found close to irrigation channels. The radiocarbon dating, radiocarbon work of Jonathan Haas ''et al.'', found that 10 of 95 samples taken in the Pativilca and Fortaleza areas dated from before 3500 BC. The oldest, dating from 9210 BC, provides "limited indication" of human settlement during the Pre-Columbian Early Archaic era. Two dates of 3700 BC are associated with communal architecture, but are likely to be anomalous. It is from 3200 BC onward that large-scale human settlement and communal construction are clearly apparent. Mann, in a survey of the literature in 2005, suggests "sometime before 3200 BC, and possibly before 3500 BC" as the beginning date of the Caral-Supe formative period. He notes that the earliest date securely associated with a city is 3500 BC, at
HuaricangaHuaricanga is the earliest city of the Norte Chico civilization The Caral Civilization (also Norte Chico civilization or Caral-Supe civilization)The name is disputed. English-language sources use es, Norte Chico , lit=Little North, label=none) ...
, in the Fortaleza area of the north, based on Haas's dates. Haas's early-third-millennium dates suggest that the development of coastal and inland sites occurred in parallel. But, from 2500 to 2000 BC, during the period of greatest expansion, the population and development decisively shifted toward the inland sites. All development apparently occurred at large interior sites such as Caral, although they remained dependent on fish and shellfish from the coast. The peak in dates is in keeping with Shady's dates at Caral, which show habitation from 2627 BC to 2020 BC. That coastal and inland sites developed in tandem remains disputed, however (see next section). Circa 1800 BC, the Caral-Supe civilization began to decline, with more powerful centers appearing to the south and north along the coast, and to the east inside the belt of the Andes. The success of irrigation-based agriculture at Caral-Supe may have contributed to its being eclipsed. Anthropologist Professor Winifred Creamer of Northern Illinois University notes that "when this civilization is in decline, we begin to find extensive canals farther north. People were moving to more fertile ground and taking their knowledge of irrigation with them". It would be a thousand years before the rise of the next great Peruvian culture, the Chavín culture, Chavín.


Geographical links

Cultural links with the highland areas have been noted by archaeologists. In particular, the links with the Kotosh Religious Tradition have been suggested.
Numerous architectural features found among the settlements of Supe, including subterranean circular courts, stepped pyramids and sequential platforms, as well as material remains and their cultural implications, excavated at Aspero and the valley sites we are digging (Caral, Chupacigarro, Lurihuasi, Miraya), are shared with other settlements of the area that participated in what is known as the Kotosh Religious Tradition. Most specific among these features include rooms with benches and hearths with subterranean ventilation ducts, wall niches, biconvex beads, and musical flutes.


Maritime coast and agricultural interior

Research into Caral-Supe continues, with many unsettled questions. Debate is ongoing regarding two related questions: the degree to which the flourishing of the Caral-Supe was based on maritime food resources, and the exact relationship this implies between the coastal and inland sites."Interior" and "inland" do not refer here to the mountainous interior of Peru proper. All of the Norte Chico sites are broadly coastal, within of the coast and within the Peruvian littoral (Caral is inland). "Interior" and "inland" are used here to contrast with sites that are literally adjacent to the ocean.


Confirmed diet

A broad outline of the Caral-Supe diet has been suggested. At Caral, the edible domestication, domesticated plants noted by Shady are Cucurbita, squash, beans, Pouteria lucuma, lúcuma, guava, pacay (''Inga feuilleei''), and sweet potato. Haas ''et al.'' noted the same foods in their survey farther north, while adding avocado and Canna (plant), achira. In 2013, good evidence for maize also was documented by Haas et al. (see below). There was also a significant seafood component at both coastal and inland sites. Shady notes that "animal remains are almost exclusively marine" at Caral, including clams and mussels, and large amounts of anchovy, anchovies and sardines. That the anchovy fish reached inland is clear, although Haas suggests that "shellfish [which would include clams and mussels], marine mammal, sea mammals, and seaweed do not appear to have been significant portions of the diet in the inland, non-maritime sites".


Theory of a maritime foundation for Andean civilization

The role of seafood in the Caral-Supe diet has aroused debate. Much early fieldwork was conducted in the region of Aspero on the coast, before the full scope and inter-connectedness of the several sites of the civilization were realized. In a 1973 paper, Michael E. Moseley contended that a maritime subsistence (seafood) economy had been the basis of the society and its remarkably early flourishing, a theory later elaborated as a "maritime foundation of Andean civilization" (MFAC). He confirmed a previously observed lack of ceramics at
Aspero Aspero is a well-studied Late Preceramic site of the ancient Norte Chico civilization, located at the mouth of the Supe river on the north-central Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_ ...

Aspero
, and he deduced that "hummocks" on the site constituted the remains of artificial platform mounds. This thesis of a maritime foundation was contrary to the general scholarly consensus that the rise of civilization was based on intensive agriculture, particularly of at least one cereal. The production of agricultural surpluses had long been seen as essential in promoting population density and the emergence of complex society. Moseley's ideas would be debated and challenged (that maritime remains and their caloric contribution were overestimated, for example), but have been treated as plausible as late as 2005, when Mann conducted a summary of the literature. Concomitant to the maritime subsistence hypothesis was an implied dominance of sites immediately adjacent to the coast over other centers. This idea was shaken by the realization of the magnitude of Caral, an inland site. Supplemental to a 1997 article by Shady dating Caral, a 2001 ''Science (magazine), Science'' news article emphasized the dominance of agriculture and also suggested that Caral was the oldest urban center in Peru (and the entire Americas). It rejected the idea that civilization might have begun adjacent to the coast and then moved inland. One archaeologist was quoted as suggesting that "rather than coastal antecedents to monumental inland sites, what we have now are coastal satellite villages to monumental inland sites". These assertions were quickly challenged by Sandweiss and Moseley, who observed that Caral, although being the largest and most complex preceramic site, it is not the oldest. They admitted the importance of agriculture to industry and to augment diet, while broadly affirming "the formative role of marine resources in early Andean civilization". Scholars now agree that the inland sites did have significantly greater populations, and that there were "so many more people along the four rivers than on the shore that they had to have been dominant". The remaining question is which of the areas developed first and created a template for subsequent development. Haas rejects suggestions that maritime development at sites immediately adjacent to the coast was initial, pointing to contemporaneous development based on his dating. Moseley remains convinced that coastal Aspero is the oldest site, and that its maritime subsistence served as a basis for the civilization.


Cotton and food sources

It is likely that cotton (of the species ''Gossypium barbadense'') provided the basis of the dominance of inland over coastal (whether development was earlier, later, or contemporaneous). Although not edible, cotton was the most important product of irrigation in the Caral-Supe culture, vital to the production of fishing nets (that in turn provided maritime resources) as well as to
textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery, o ...

textile
s and textile technology. Haas notes that "control over cotton allows a ruling elite to provide the benefit of cloth for clothing, bags, wraps, and adornment". He is willing to admit to a mutual dependency dilemma: "The prehistoric residents of the Norte Chico needed the fish resources for their protein and the Fisherman, fishermen needed the cotton to make the nets to catch the fish." Thus, identifying cotton as a vital resource produced in the inland does not by itself resolve the issue of whether the inland centers were a progenitor for those on the coast, or vice versa. Moseley argues that successful maritime centers would have moved inland to find cotton. The exact relationship between food resources and political organization remains unresolved. The development of Caral-Supe is particularly remarkable for the apparent absence of an agricultural staple food. However, recent studies increasingly dispute this and point to maize as a dietary backbone of this and later pre-Columbian civilizations. Moseley found a small number of maize cobs in 1973 at Aspero (also seen in site work in the 1940s and 1950s) but has since called the find "problematic". However, increasing evidence has emerged about the importance of maize in this period:


Social organization


Government

The degree of centralized authority is difficult to ascertain, but architectural construction patterns are indicative, at least in certain places at certain times, of an elite population who wielded considerable power: while some of the monumental architecture was constructed incrementally, other buildings, such as the two main platform mounds at Caral, appear to have been constructed in one or two intense construction phases. As further evidence of centralized control, Haas points to remains of large stone warehouses found at Upaca, on the Pativilca, as emblematic of authorities able to control vital resources such as cotton. Haas suggests that the labour mobilization patterns revealed by the archaeological evidence, point to a unique emergence of human government, one of two alongside
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclo ...

Sumer
(or three, if
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical and important region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human geography), and the interaction of humanity and th ...
is included as a separate case). While in other cases, the idea of government would have been borrowed or copied, in this small group, government was ''invented''. Other archaeologists have rejected such claims as hyperbolic. In exploring the basis of possible government, Haas suggests three broad bases of power for early complex societies: * economic, * ideology, and * physical. He finds the first two present in ancient Caral-Supe.


Economic

Economic authority would have rested on the control of cotton, edible plants, and associated trade relationships, with power centered on the inland sites. Haas tentatively suggests that the scope of this economic power base may have extended widely: there are only two confirmed shore sites in the Caral-Supe (Aspero and Bandurria) and possibly two more, but cotton fishing nets and domesticated plants have been found up and down the Peruvian coast. It is possible that the major inland centers of Caral-Supe, were at the center of a broad regional trade network centered on these resources. Citing Shady, a 2005 article in ''Discover (magazine), Discover'' magazine suggests a rich and varied trade life: "[Caral] exported its own products and those of Aspero to distant communities in exchange for exotic imports: ''Spondylus'' shells from the coast of Ecuador, rich dyes from the Andes, Andean highlands, Anadenanthera peregrina, hallucinogenic snuff from the Amazon basin, Amazon." (Given the still limited extent of Caral-Supe research, such claims should be treated circumspectly.) Other reports on Shady's work indicate Caral traded with communities in the jungle farther inland and, possibly, with people from the mountains.


Ideology

Haas postulates that ideological power exercised by leadership was based on apparent access to deities and the supernatural. Evidence regarding Caral-Supe religion is limited: in 2003, an image of the Staff God, a leering figure with a hood and fangs, was found on a gourd that dated to 2250 BC. The Staff God is a major deity of later Andean cultures, and Winifred Creamer suggests the find points to worship of common symbols of deities. As with much other research at Caral-Supe, the nature and significance of the find has been disputed by other researchers.Krysztof Makowski, as reported by Mann (1491), suggests there is little evidence that the peoples of Andean civilizations worshipped an overarching deity. The figure may have been carved by a later civilization onto an ancient gourd, as it was found in stratum, strata dating between 900 and 1300 AD. Mann postulates that the act of architectural construction and maintenance at Caral-Supe may have been a spiritual or religious experience: a process of communal exaltation and ceremony. Shady has called Caral "the sacred city" (''la ciudad sagrada'') and reports that socio-economic and political focus was on the temples, which were periodically remodeled, with major burnt offerings associated with the remodeling.


Physical

Haas notes the absence of any suggestion of physical bases of power, that is, defensive construction, at Caral-Supe. There is no evidence of warfare "of any kind or at any level during the Andean preceramic, Preceramic Period". Mutilated bodies, burned buildings, and other tell-tale signs of violence are absent and settlement patterns are completely non-defensive. The evidence of the development of complex government in the absence of warfare contrasts markedly to archaeological theory, which suggests that human beings move away from kin-based groups to larger units resembling "Sovereign state, states" for mutual defense of often scarce resources. In Caral-Supe, a vital resource was present: arable land generally, and the cotton crop specifically, but Mann noted that apparently, the move to greater complexity by the culture was not driven by the need for defense or warfare.


Sites and architecture

Caral-Supe sites are known for their density of large sites with immense architecture. Haas argues that the density of sites in such a small area is globally unique for a nascent civilization. During the third millennium BC, Caral-Supe may have been the most densely populated area of the world (excepting, possibly, Northern China). The Supe, Pativilca, Fortaleza, and Huaura River valleys of Caral-Supe each have several related sites. Evidence from the ground-breaking work during 1973 at
Aspero Aspero is a well-studied Late Preceramic site of the ancient Norte Chico civilization, located at the mouth of the Supe river on the north-central Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_ ...

Aspero
, at the mouth of the Supe Valley, suggested a site of approximately . Surveying of the midden suggested extensive prehistoric construction activity. Small-scale Terrace (agriculture), terracing was noted, along with more sophisticated platform mound masonry. As many as eleven artificial mounds were estimated to exist at the site. Moseley calls these "Corporate Labor Platforms", given that their size, layout, and construction materials and techniques would have required an organized workforce. The survey of the northern rivers found sites between ; between one and seven large
platform mound A platform mound is any earthworks (archaeology), earthwork or mound intended to support a structure or activity. It typically refers to a flat-topped mound, whose sides may be pyramidal. Eastern North America The Native Americans in the United ...
s—rectangular, Terrace (building), terraced pyramids—were discovered, ranging in size from to more than . Shady notes that the central zone of Caral, with monumental architecture, covers an area of just greater than . Also, six platform mounds, numerous smaller mounds, two sunken circular plazas, and a variety of residential architecture were discovered at this site. The monumental architecture was constructed with quarry, quarried stone and river cobbles. Using Phragmites, reed "shicra-bags", some of which have been preserved, laborers would have hauled the material to sites by hand. Roger Atwood of Archaeology (magazine), ''Archaeology'' magazine describes the process:
Armies of workers would gather a long, durable grass known as ''shicra'' in the highlands above the city, tie the grass strands into loosely meshed bags, fill the bags with boulders, and then pack the trenches behind each successive retaining wall of the step pyramids with the stone-filled bags.
In this way, the people of Norte Chico achieved formidable architectural success. The largest of the platforms mounds at Caral, the ''Piramide Mayor'', measures and rises high. In its summation of the 2001 Shady paper, the BBC suggests workers would have been "paid or compelled" to work on centralized projects of this sort, with dried anchovy, anchovies possibly serving as a form of currency. Mann points to "ideology, charisma, and skilfully timed reinforcement" from leaders.


Development and absent technologies

When compared to the common Eurasian models of the development of civilization, Caral-Supe's differences are striking. In Caral-Supe, a total lack of ceramics persists across the period. Crops were cooked by roasting. The lack of pottery was accompanied by a lack of archaeologically apparent art. In conversation with Mann, Alvaro Ruiz observes: "In the Norte Chico we see almost no visual arts. No sculpture, no carving or bas-relief, almost no painting or drawing—the interiors are completely bare. What we do see are these huge mounds—and textiles." While the absence of ceramics appears anomalous, Mann notes that the presence of textiles is intriguing. ''Quipu'' (or khipu), string-based recording devices, have been found at Caral, suggesting a writing, or proto-writing, system at Caral-Supe. (The discovery was reported by Mann in ''Science'' in 2005, but has not been formally published or described by Shady.) The exact use of quipu in this and later Andean cultures has been widely debated. Originally, it was believed to be a simple mnemonic technique used to record numeric information, such as a count of items bought and sold. Evidence has emerged, however, that the quipu also may have recorded Logogram, logographic information in the same way writing does. Research has focused on the much larger sample of a few hundred quipu dating to Inca times. The Caral-Supe discovery remains singular and undeciphered. Other finds at Caral-Supe have proved suggestive. While visual arts appear absent, the people may have played instrumental music: thirty-two flutes, crafted from pelican bone, have been discovered. The oldest known depiction of the Staff God was found in 2003 on some broken gourd fragments in a burial site in the Pativilca River valley and the gourd was carbon dated to 2250 BCE. While still fragmentary, such archaeological evidence corresponds to the patterns of later Andean civilization and may indicate that Caral-Supe served as a template. Along with the specific finds, Mann highlights
"the primacy of exchange over a wide area, the penchant for collective, festive civic work projects, [and] the high valuation of textiles and textile technology" within Norte Chico as patterns that would recur later in the Peruvian cradle of civilization."


Research

The magnitude of the Caral-Supe discovery has generated academic controversy among researchers. The "monumental feud", as described by ''Archaeology (magazine), Archaeology'', has included "public insults, a charge of plagiarism, ethics inquiries in both Peru and the United States, and complaints by Peruvian officials to the U.S. government". The lead author of the seminal paper of April 2001 was a Peruvian,
Ruth Shady Ruth Martha Shady Solís (born December 29, 1946, Callao, Perú) is a Peruvian anthropology, anthropologist and archeology, archaeologist. She is the founder and director of the archaeological project at Caral. Throughout her career, she has direc ...
, with co-authors Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer, a married United States team; the coauthoring was reportedly suggested by Haas, in the hopes that the involvement of United States researchers would help secure funds for carbon dating as well as future research funding. Later, Shady charged the couple with plagiarism and insufficient attribution, suggesting the pair had received credit for her research, which had begun in 1994. At issue is credit for the discovery of the civilization, naming it, and developing the theoretical models to explain it. That Shady was describing a civilization is clear in 1997 ("Los albores de la civilización en el Perú"). While locating it on the Supe River, with Caral at its center, she suggested a larger geographic base for the society:Fro
summary three
Shady (1997): ''El número de centros urbanos (17), identificado en el valle de Supe, y su magnitud, requirieron de una gran cantidad de mano de obra y de los excedentes, para su edificación, mantenimiento, remodelación y enterramiento. Si consideramos exclusivamente la capacidad productiva de este pequeño valle, esa inversión no habría podido ser realizada sin la participación de las comunidades de los valles vecinos.''
In 2004, Haas ''et al.'' wrote that "Our recent work in the neighboring Pativilca and Fortaleza has revealed that Caral and Aspero were but two of a much larger number of major Late Archaic sites in the Norte Chico", while noting Shady only in footnotes. Attribution of this type is what has angered Shady and her supporters. Shady's position has been hampered by a lack of funding for archaeological research in her native Peru, as well as the media advantages of North American researchers in disputes of this type. Haas and Creamer were cleared of the plagiarism charge by their institutions. The science advisory council of the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History rebuked Haas for press releases and web pages that gave too little credit to Shady and inflated the American couple's role as discoverers. As of 2005, the dispute remains heated. Scholars have concerns that it could make it more difficult for United States archaeologists to gain permission to work in Peru.


See also

* Andean preceramic * Iperú, Peru tourist information * List of Norte Chico archaeological sites * Supe Puerto


Notes


References


Further reading

* * *


External links


Caral-Supe at Google Maps



Press kit photos and video of Caral
{{Authority control Norte Chico civilization, 4th-millennium BC establishments 2nd-millennium BC disestablishments Andean civilizations Andean preceramic Archaeology of Peru Indigenous peoples in Peru Pre-Columbian cultures