Peru’s culture ministry has unveiled three small statues from the Caral civilization which are over 3,800 years old.
The unbaked mud statues were found at the site knows as Vichama in the town of Vegueta about 75 miles north of Lima. Caral specialist Ruth Shady explains the statues depict a priestess, a man and a woman.
Shady says the statues were left as a religious offering in an arrangement of sand and ashes in the Las Hornacinas building. She added that the position in which the statues were found as well as the larger size of the priestess, who has 28 fingers and toes and whose face is covered in red dots, demonstrate the importance women played in the pre-Hispanic cultures of Peru.
The team also unveiled the heads from two female statues which were found wrapped in multi-colored feathers, evidence of the desert culture’s contact with the tribes of the Amazon.
The Caral culture, also known as Caral-Supe or the Norte Chico civilization, is the oldest civilization in the Americas. The Sacred City of Caral-Supe was built over 4,000 years ago and continually occupied for 1,000 years. The Caral were the Americas’ first civilization to abandon hunting-and-gathering lifestyles for large-scale architecture and sedentary lifestyles supported by agriculture and fishing.
“Now it has recently been explained why there was a social crisis in the Caral, Moche and Tiahuanaco cultures. It is something cyclical that the earth presents,” Shady said. She believes intense droughts lasting 60 to 130 years prompted the civilizations to move from the Sacred City to the Vichama site in Huaura province closer to the sea. “There was a crisis around 1900 B.C. that we are researching, caused by climate change.”
Watch the culture ministry’s presentation below.
Hallan ofrendas de 3,800 años de antigüedad en Sitio Arqueológico de Vichama (Ministerio de Cultura)
Barro contradición (El Peruano)
Sacred City of Caral-Supe (UNESCO)