Caral. (Public Domain)
A conversation with Ruth Shady, the discoverer of the city that caused America’s past to be rewritten.
The oldest civilization of the hemisphere emerged at Caral, in Peru. Not everyone knows, because its ruins are barely sticking out from under the cover of sand, still being painstakingly excavated in a 62-hectare (153-acre) zone of breathtaking desert, on a small plain flanked by impressive mountain peaks of the Andes.
Pyramids, houses, temples, unlikely-looking structures were put up by the inhabitants 5,000 years ago, around 2900 B.C. This is phenomenal data that makes other monumental building projects like the earliest ones at Teotihuacán in 400 B.C., Tikal in 200 A.D., Chichén Itzá in 520, or Machu Picchu in 1300 of our era pale in comparison.
This discovery has actually changed the history of the Americas.
The Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady Solís, discoverer of the Caral zone, works from a house in La Molina district in Lima, managing the research in a broad region of the Caral-Supe Valley, around what is now known as the Sacred City.
It is the headquarters of the University of San Marcos, without signs and without classrooms. She works there with a small group of architects, archaeologists, anthropologists and designers on the task of recreating the structures and features of the culture that once thrived in this city, and that today is one of the most precious jewels of humanity.
Inside her office, the books are set in order, each with a …
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