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The oldest city in America?

About 200 km north of Lima, the capital of Peru, in a desert, there is an archaeological site that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is Caral, the oldest city in the Americas. Its foundation dates back 5,000 years - and perhaps longer. Accordingly, this culture would be almost as old as Egypt's (about 5,500 years) and far older than most European civilizations. Between 2600 and 2000 BC, Caral had more than 3,000 people living in a thriving trading city with contacts along the coasts and far inland to the Amazon. Around 1800 B.C., Caral came to an abrupt, as yet unexplained end.

In the center of Caral stood the great earth pyramid, which - on a base of 160 by 150 meters (the size of four soccer fields) - had a height of about 18 meters and is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. At the stone stairway to this pyramid are double-man-high monoliths of granite weighing several tons. Where these came from is unclear; for there are no suitable quarries within a radius of 150 kilometers. Lowered, large circular stone buildings are reminiscent of Roman amphitheaters.

Around the city of Caral - as a cultural, political and religious center - there are another 19 pyramids or temple mounds of stamped earth in the valley of the Supe River, covering an area of 80 square kilometers. The total population of the civilization of Norte Chico (Caral) is estimated at 20,000. The first agricultural irrigation system in the Americas also originated in the Rio Supe Valley.

In perhaps the oldest city in the Americas and one of the oldest in the world, no weapons were found, no traces of war and violence! The culture of Caral was peaceful and art-friendly, as evidenced by finds of musical instruments (flutes, horns) and jewelry. A knot script was also used. In a more developed form, this became the Quipu, the script of the Incas, whose civilization was built on the culture of Caral. The peaceful disposition of the inhabitants of Caral was not adopted by the Incas: these were a nation of conquerors who used inventions and developments of subjugated peoples.

The peaceful disposition of the residents of Caral seems to me to be of particular interest. In GrailWorld we have mentioned several times that the first civilizations were probably peaceful; in old Europe, in the Sahara and in Central Asia (cf. "The cult of the great mother", under “History of Religion”; "From original patriarchy to global crash", under "Book Reviews"; "Brief, succinct, curious" page 228 "An expulsion from paradise"). Archaeologists are now discovering that America's oldest city was built by peaceful people who did not wage war and hated the use of force.

Is it time to revise our social Darwinist image of the violent human being who must be forced by law and force to behave peacefully?

(1) Bild der Wissenschaft, 12/2010, page 63 f.
(2) Caral, la primera civilización de America, Univ. de San Martin de Porres, 2008.
(3) Orth René, People of the Sun, Scientific Book Society, Conrad Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart, 2005.