October 16, 2009
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre on its 33rd Session, has recently designated the Sacred City of Caral, in Peru, as a World Patrimony of Mankind and Cultural Heritage Site, to honor its superb historic value and excellent conservation status.
Located on the Supe valley, 184 kilometers north of Lima, in a dry desert terraced plateau and overlooking the verdant valley of the Supe River; the 5000 thousand year old Caral archaeological complex comprises an area of 626 hectares and is considered the oldest centre of civilization in the Americas.
The Sacred City has been exceptionally well preserved and features a complex and impressive architectural design which includes monumental stone and earthen platform mounts, along with sunken circular courts and six large pyramidal structures. It dates back to the Late Archaic Period of the Central Andes. The city plan, its components and pyramidal structures evidence ceremonial functions, residential hierarchies and a strong religious spirit of the ancestral inhabitants of this extraordinary urban center, older than many famous settlements of Egypt or Mesopotamia. A “Quipu” (the knot-writing system developed by several pre-Incan Andean cultures) provides fascinating testimonies and evidences of the Caral Society, its organization and structure.
The Caral-Supe Sacred City has been and will continue under the management of the Caral-Supe Special Archaeological Project (PEACS) which has been working for the last 15 years in unveiling the secrets of this remote civilized Andean centre and promoting its conservation. The nomination of World Heritage Site given by UNESCO not only rewards the dedicated work made by those who have taken care of such a historically rich patrimony, but also recognizes its historic, cultural and historic value. The nomination implies special protection and access to international funds and a series of measures to ensure its long-term conservation and further studies.
With this new honor awarded to the ancient cultures of Peru, new opportunities also rise for those interested in cultural tours, focused particularly on archaeology and sociological studies. The relatively short distance from the capital city of Lima could well provide easier and better accesses to the complex, while, most likely, strict rules, regulations, restrictions and limits may be imposed for visitation of this historic and now Mankind Patrimonial Site.