Peru is an incredibly diverse country. Its history is filled with many ancient civilizations, all with distinct beliefs, religions, and customs. From the Inca to the Moche and the Huari, Peru’s past is full of stories and lessons worth exploring. Visitors can learn more about Peru’s deep-rooted past by uncovering its culture and heritage, from its culinary delights to its musical traditions and impressive architectural wonders.

Early History of Peru 

Peru, located on the western coast of the continent of South America, has a long and vibrant history. Human settlements in the region have been traced back to as early as 12,000 BC, when various tribes of hunter-gatherers began inhabiting the area. Around 3000 BC, Peru was settled by many different cultures, including the nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures such as the Nasca, Chavin, and Mochica, who are renowned for the incredible pottery, art, and architecture they left behind.

The Chavin 

One of the earliest advanced civilizations to exist in Peru was the Chavin. Around 900 to 200 BC, they dominated much of the northern and central parts of the country and are believed to be the first culture in the region to practice sophisticated religious ceremonies, as demonstrated by their incredible temple-like structures carved into limestone called “huacas.”

The Nasca 

The Nasca culture, which reigned between 200 and 600 AD, was a more sophisticated society than the Chavin. In contrast to the Chavin’s stone-based artwork, the Nasca used mud and earth to express themselves with beautiful geoglyphs inspired by gods and animals native to the desert. The most famous of these are the Nasca lines, which are giant drawings and symbols that can be seen from miles away. These symbols, some of which are hundreds of feet across, are still mysterious and many wonder about their purpose.

The Moche 

The Moche, who controlled northern Peru from 100 to 800 AD, were highly skilled craftsmen and engineers. They are best known for their adobe pyramids, gold and silver jewelry, and sprawling pottery motifs that depict incredible scenes found in mythology. The Moche’s influence is further added to with the numerous aqueducts they constructed to bring water deep into the deserts.

The Huari 

The Huari, who lived between 600 and 1000 AD, were the next major society to inhabit the highlands of southern Peru. They were an innovative culture, creating many of the same types of artwork, jewelry, pottery, and architecture that was seen in other Peru cultures, but with more of a focus on astronomy and how they were connected with their gods. The most impressive of their structures are the stone structures known as “huacos,” which have been used as astronomical calendars by the Inca and some modern Peruvian cultures.

The Inca 

The Inca, who reigned from the 13th century to the 16th century, are the most well-known culture in Peru. Known as the “Children of the Sun,” their legacy is a powerful one, marked by the incredible architecture of their capitol, Cusco, and the terrace farming system, which allowed the Inca to farm in the high Andes, where the environment and climate are extreme. The Inca are also famous for their road system, which was used for trading, military purposes, and transportation.

Cultural Artifacts and Ancient Treasures 

Many aspects of Peru’s ancient cultures can still be seen in many of the artifacts and precious items that have been recovered from archaeological digs across the country. These include beautiful jewelry, intricate textiles, religious statues, and pottery with exotic geometrical patterns and shapes. There are also numerous burial sites in Peru from various ancient cultures, where officials have located remarkable objects like finely crafted gold masks, ritual offerings and unfortunately, human remains.

Peru’s Cuisine 

The ancient civilizations of Peru left behind more than just architecturally beautiful wonders. The cuisine of Peru is one of the most unique in the world. It is a mix of spices and ingredients that were explored by the ancient inhabitants, as well as some dishes that have been influenced by later immigrants to the region.

The staples of a traditional Peruvian plate include potatoes, which were first discovered by the Inca and were originally chewed like gum by the people of Peru. Quinoa was also a staple of their diet, as was corn. This diet was further powered by the high-quality seafood that was available at the time, with some freshwater fishes like the paiche reaching up to eight feet in size.

Music in Peru 

The music of Peru is incredibly diverse and complex, encompassing many distinct styles from traditional folk music to modern dance-oriented music. This music is usually conducted with multiple instrumentals, such as drums, wind instruments, and various strings.

Traditional instruments have been around for centuries in Peru, including drums made from an array of different materials, the charango (a small Andean guitar), the quena (a bamboo flute with six holes), the cajón (a wooden box drum), and the zampoña (a panpipe made of bamboo).

Other Art Forms 

The people of Peru also had a tradition of making beautiful pottery works. The Moche, Chavin, and Huari were known for making elaborate sculptures, many of which were used in religious ceremonies and were believed to have powers. Many pieces of these artworks still exist and can be seen in archaeological sites throughout Peru.

Peru is also well-known for their traditional weaving practices, used to create beautiful textiles. Traditionally, these were made on backstrap looms with brightly-colored patterns, which can still be seen in towns throughout the country.

Modern Day Peru 

Today, Peru is as culturally and historically vibrant as ever. It is home to some of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites, from pre-Columbian civilizations to the colonial era. Visitors to the country can enjoy its beautiful architecture, museums, and music festivals that honor the ancient cultures that formed Peru’s culture and heritage.

Visitors to Peru quickly learn that its rich culture and heritage have been shaped by its ancient civilizations for thousands of years. By uncovering Peru’s ancient roots, modern travelers can explore its impressive artwork, cuisine, weaving traditions, and music to discover the many stories and lessons that are still held within the country. The exploration of these ancient cultures, as thousands of years ago, best way to experientially understand Peru’s vast and vibrant culture today.