Norte Chico (Peru)

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Norte Chico (Peru)

Consisting of the adjacent valleys of the Huaura, Supe, Pativilca, and Fortaleza rivers, the Norte Chico (Little North) is so named for its position between the North Coast and the Central Coast regions of Peru. The Norte Chico has gained prominence, since important discoveries there in the mid-1990s, for the dense concentration of archaeological sites with monumental architecture; these date to the third millennium bce, the earliest known in the Western hemisphere. Within the bounds of this region, measuring 1,800 square kilometers, archaeologists have identified thirty sites dating to the Late Archaic period (3000–1800 bce) that are distinguished by the presence of truncated pyramids associated with sunken circular plazas and upright stone monoliths. These features are notable not only for their early date but also for their tight clustering. Sites range from a single mound or mound-plaza complex to those covering more than 100 hectares with two or three mound-plaza groups arranged in a U and surrounded by extensive residential remains.

For more than a thousand years, what appears to have been a stable society maintained a way of life dependent on farming irrigated fields and trading agricultural products for marine resources. Evidence of hierarchy is present, though there is no evidence of regional centralization or a "capital" city. The eventual expansion of large-scale irrigation techniques to other regions, coupled with the development of increasing centralization and economic specialization, resulted in diminished pyramid-building after 1800 bce and the end of the cultural distinctiveness and prominence of the Norte Chico.

See alsoArchaeology .


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Haas, Jonathan, and Winifred Creamer. "Crucible of Andean Civilization, the Peruvian Coast from 3000 to 1800 BC." Current Anthropology 47, no. 5 (2006): 745-775.

Haas, Jonathan, Shelia Pozorski, and Thomas Pozorski, eds. The Origins and Development of the Andean State. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Kosok, Paul. Life, Land, and Water in Ancient Peru. New York: Long Island University Press, 1965.

Shady, Ruth, and Carlos Levya, eds. La ciudad sagrada de Caral-Supe: Los orígenes de la civilización andina y la formación del estado prístino en el antiguo Perú. Lima: Instituto Nacional de Cultura, 2003.

Williams, C. "A Scheme for the Early Monumental Architecture of the Central Coast of Peru." In Early Ceremonial Architecture in the Andes: A Conference at Dumbarton Oaks, 8th to 10th October 1982, ed. Christopher B. Donnan, pp. 227-240. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1985.

                               Winifred Creamer

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Norte Chico (Peru)

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