The Watch

Caral Archaeological Site

Supe Valley, Barranca Province, Peru

2002 World Monuments Watch

Established at a time of dramatic cultural development in the Andes, the ancient site Caral, 182 kilometers north of Lima, has been hailed as the oldest city in the Americas. Settled sometime around 2600 B.C., the site includes six stone platform mounds, the largest of which measures 150 by 160 meters; two sunken ceremonial plazas; several zones with residential structures; and an irrigation system. Among the most astonishing finds to come from the site are a collection of 32 flutes fashioned out of condor and pelican wing bones. Discoveries such as Caral have prompted archaeologists to revise their estimates of when, where, and how the change from Middle Preceramic settlements to Late Preceramic cities came about. The rise of cities was accompanied by numerous technological innovations, including the development of monumental architecture, the use of cloth woven on a heddle loom in place of simple twined and looped textiles, and the tapping of rivers for irrigation, which allowed for the cultivation of more than one crop annually. In the 4,600 years since its construction, Caral has been exposed to the elements, suffering from constant wind erosion. Today, the site faces the added risks of agricultural encroachment, looting, governmental failure to implement protection measures, and insufficient funds for proper conservation.

Since the Watch

January 2011 - In 2009 the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The dangers had been mitigated, since, according to ICOMOS, Watch Listing in 2002 led the Peruvian government to grant funds for the recording, research, investigation, conservation, and presentation of the site.

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