After a long drive from Lima, we arrived at the archeological site of Caral. Our first stop was the workplace of the lead archeologist, Dr. Ruth Shady, so our host could talk to her about his new nonprofit, but she was not there. Luckily the view from the office was beautiful!
From there, we headed to ruins themselves. We had to wait a little bit for a guide to take us around the ruins, and we got to admire the art competition being held among local schoolchildren in honor of the 18th anniversary of rediscovering the ruins. The kids were serious about their artwork!
Once we got our guide, we began our walk in the strong sun around the massive site of pyramids in this strangely beautiful landscape. The pyramids are in various states of restoration and study, and it was fascinating to listen to our guide explain the process. I can’t pretend to remember all the details of each individual building in order to share them here, but I learned a lot. I am so thankful I speak Spanish (and academic Spanish at that) so that I was able to fully appreciate the tour.
My favorite photo of the ruins!
You can see here why the pyramids were not uncovered for so long – they fade into the landscape of this barren land.
These flags are intended to keep birds away, but they don’t work as well anymore, the birds have caught on!
Pyramid in the process of restoration, and two in the distance!
I love this shot – the guide explained that they photograph and mark every stone of the falling walls so that they can meticulously restore it just as it would have been thousands of years ago, except using a stronger binder. You can see one of the unrestored walls tilting down in the center of the photo. Amazingly detailed work!
The ruins look otherworldly in this clean, empty landscape.
Our guide hard at work, while his coworkers continue to ready the place for the anniversary!
View of the pathway to more pyramids and the geometry of this marker lining up with the pyramid
They believe this to be an administrative site because it is an unlivable landscape, though you can see the fertile valley just on the other side of the river, where people must have resided. This other structure is believed to be one of the most important buildings of the complex.
Here you see a pyramid which has not yet been fully excavated, and the foothills of the Andes.
Here’s a view of the flat landscape as well as the work to be done everywhere!
I hope the photographs convey the fascinating beauty of this site. I am really happy that Caral is now much more accessible for visitors, because it gives you a great insight into the work of archeology and the different ancient cultures of Peru that deserve more exploration by tourists and travelers like me. After visiting this and reading some great books on Peru (more on those later!), I cannot wait to explore northern Peru and some of the major sites of other ancient cultures!!
After visiting the archeological site of Caral, it was time to move on to see how people live in the nearby town of Caral. That’ll be in the next post! 🙂