Sacred City of Caral-Supe

Sacred City of Caral-Supe

The 5000-year-old 626-hectare archaeological site of The Sacred City of Caral-Supe is situated on a dry desert terrace overlooking the green valley of the Supe river. It dates back to the Late Archaic Period of the Central Andes and is the oldest centre of civilization in the Americas. Exceptionally well-preserved, the site is impressive in terms of its design and the complexity of its architectural, especially its monumental stone and earthen platform mounts and sunken circular courts. One of 18 urban settlements situated in the same area, Caral features complex and monumental architecture, including six large pyramidal structures. A quipu (the knot system used in Andean civilizations to record information) found on the site testifies to the development and complexity of Caral society. The city’s plan and some of its components, including pyramidal structures and residence of the elite, show clear evidence of ceremonial functions, signifying a powerful religious ideology.

Ville sacrée de Caral-Supe

Le site archéologique de Caral-Supe qui s’étend sur 626 ha est situé sur un plateau désertique aride en surplomb de la verdoyante vallée de Supe. Il date de la période archaïque tardive des Andes centrales, il y a 5 000 ans, et il s’agit de la plus vieille cité de ce type aux Amériques. C’est un site impressionnant en termes de conception et de complexité de ses éléments architecturaux et spatiaux, notamment de ses monumentales plateformes de pierre et de terre et de ses cours circulaires creuses. Caral, qui n’est qu’un des 18 établissements urbains de la zone, est particulièrement bien préservé. On y trouve une architecture complexe et monumentale, notamment six grandes structures pyramidales. Un quipu (une corde à laquelle plusieurs autres cordelettes nouées étaient attachées, servant à enregistrer et transmettre des informations dans les Andes) retrouvé sur place témoigne du développement et de la complexité de la civilisation de Caral. Le plan de la ville et certaines de ses composantes, notamment les structures pyramidales et le groupe résidentiel de l’élite, témoignent de fonctions cérémonielles, traduisant la puissance de ce que l’on pourrait qualifier d’idéologie religieuse. Le site doit sa remarquable conservation à son abandon précoce et à sa découverte tardive.

حاضرة كارال ـ سوبِه المقدسة

يعود تاريخ هذا الموقع الأثري، الذي تبلغ مساحته 626 هكتاراً والواقع على مصطبة صحراوية جافة تطل على الوادي الأخضر لنهر سوبِه، إلى العصر القديم المتأخر قبل 5000 سنة الخاص بمنطقة الأنديز الوسطى. ويُعتبر الموقع أقدم مركز حضاري في الأمريكتين. كما أنه يتميز بطابع خلاب من حيث تصميم وتعقّد مكوناته المعمارية والمكانية، وخاصة أحجاره الضخمة وجباله الترابية وساحاته الدائرية المغمورة بالمياه. ومن بين المستوطنات الحضرية البالغ عددها 18 والواقعة في هذه المنطقة، بقت مستوطنة كارال بحالة جيدة على وجه الخصوص. وتمثل هذه المستوطنة أيضاً طابعاً معمارياً يتسم بالتعقيد والضخامة ويشمل ستة أبنية هرمية كبيرة. ويدل نظام "quipu" (وهو نظام العُقَد الذي كان يُستخدم في الحضارات الأنديزية لتسجيل المعلومات) الذي تم العثور عليه في هذا الموقع، على مظاهر التطور والتعقد التي تميز بها مجتمع كارال. فعندما كان هذا الموقع مسكوناً لفترة امتدت ألف سنة، تم تعديل بنيته مرات عديدة. أما خطة بناء المدينة وبعض من مكوناتها، بما فيها الأبنية الهرمية الشكل والأحياء التي كانت تقطنها النخبة، فإنها تدل دلالة واضحة على أن هذه المدينة تميّزت بتنظيم المناسبات الاحتفالية، مما يعني أنها خضعت لإيديولوجية دينية صارمة. وبقى الموقع في حالة جيدة إلى أقصى حد ممكن؛ ويعود ذلك بصفة خاصة إلى أن سكانه تركوه في وقت مبكر وأنه اكتشف في وقت متأخر.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Ciudad Sagrada de Caral-Supe

La Ciudad Sagrada de Caral-Supe es un sitio arqueológico de 5.000 años de antigüedad que abarca 626 hectáreas. Está emplazado en una meseta desierta y árida que domina el valle verdeante del río Supe. Sus orígenes se remontan al periodo arcaico tardío de los Andes Centrales y hacen de él el centro de civilización más antiguo de las Américas. La ciudad, excepcionalmente bien preservada, es impresionante por la concepción y complejidad de sus elementos arquitectónicos y espaciales, sobre todo las plataformas monumentales de piedra y tierra y los patios circulares bajos. Caral es uno de los dieciocho asentamientos urbanos de la región y su arquitectura, compleja y monumental a la vez, comprende seis grandes estructuras piramidales. El hallazgo de un quipu (ramal de cuerda con varios nudos y colores, anudado a otros ramales similares y utilizado para registrar y transmitir relatos, noticias y cuentas) atestigua el grado de desarrollo y complejidad alcanzado por la civilización de Caral. El plano de la ciudad y algunos de sus componentes –en particular, las estructuras piramidales y el conjunto residencial de la clase dominante– atestiguan claramente la existencia de funciones ceremoniales reveladoras de una fuerte ideología religiosa.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Heilige stad van Caral-Supe

Het terrein van de heilige stad van Caral-Supe is 626 hectare groot. De 5.000 jaar oude plek ligt in een woestijnvlakte met uitzicht op de groene vallei van de Supe rivier. De Heilige stad is het oudste centrum van beschaving op het Amerikaanse continent. De complexe en monumentale architectuur van Caral bevat zes grote piramides. De aanwezige Quipu – een knopensysteem dat in de Andes beschavingen werd gebruikt om informatie vast te leggen – getuigt van de ontwikkeling en complexiteit van de Caral samenleving. Het ontwerp en de gebouwen bewijzen dat de stad ceremoniële functies vervulde, een teken van een machtige religieuze ideologie.

Source: unesco.nl

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© Nomination File
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

The Sacred City of Caral-Supe reflects the rise of civilisation in the Americas. As a fully developed socio-political state, it is remarkable for its complexity and its impact on developing settlements throughout the Supe Valley and beyond. Its early use of the quipu as a recording device is considered of great significance. The design of both the architectural and spatial components of the city is masterful, and the monumental platform mounds and recessed circular courts are powerful and influential expressions of a consolidated state.

Criterion (ii): Caral is the best representation of Late Archaic architecture and town planning in ancient Peruvian civilisation. The platform mounds, sunken circular courts, and urban plan, which developed over centuries, influenced nearby settlements and subsequently a large part of the Peruvian coast.

Criterion (iii): Within the Supe Valley, the earliest known manifestation of civilisation in the Americas, Caral is the most highly-developed and complex example of settlement within the civilisation’s formative period (the Late Archaic period).

Criterion (iv): Caral is impressive in terms of the design and complexity of its architectural and spatial elements, especially its monumental earthen platform mounds and sunken circular courts, features that were to dominate a large part of the Peruvian coast for many centuries.

Integrity and Authenticity

Caral is remarkably intact, largely because of its early abandonment and late discovery. Once abandoned, it appears to have been occupied only twice and then not systematically: once in the so-called Middle Formative or Early Horizon, about 1000 B.C.; and once in the States and Lordships period, between 900 and 1440 A.D. Since both these settlements were on the outskirts of the city, they did not disturb the ancient architectural structures. In addition, since the site lacked gold and silver finds, there was little looting. The site has no modern permanent constructions in its immediate surroundings (except for tourism facilities built from local materials). It is part of a cultural and natural landscape of great beauty, relatively untouched by development. Most development has occurred in low valley areas near Lima (to the south of the site). The middle Supe Valley, where the site is located, is an area dedicated to non-industrialised agriculture. There is little argument about the authenticity of the site. Radiocarbon analysis carried out by the Caral-Supe Special Archaeological Project (PEACS) at the Caral site confirms that the development of the site can be located in time between the years 3000 to 1800 B.C. and, more specifically, to the Late Archaic Period.

Management and protection requirements

The management system in place is adequate, and a recently modified Management Plan (as of late 2008) has been implemented. The modified plan includes regulations to guarantee the preservation and conservation of the property.

Historical Description

During its period of occupancy, approximately 1,000 years, Caral was remodelled several times. In fact, almost all of the buildings show successive periods of occupation.

Research carried out by a cross-disciplinary team has demonstrated that although the Supe Valley settlements were occupied in 3000 B.C., it was not until 2600 B.C. that their occupants became part of an organised social system with a "capital zone" in the lower middle valley. And it was this zone that was the centre of the most outstanding social and cultural tradition of the time.

Based on socio-cultural information and dating data, the theory has been posited that the influence of the social system of Supe first affected the populations of the nearest valleys. It then extended further and, by 2200 B.C., its influence had spread as far south as the archaeological site of El Paraiso in the Chillón Valley, and to all the valleys northward as far as the Santa River Valley.

The chronological sequence is summarised as follows:

- Remote Period (before 3000 B.C.): Land possession by groups of families/lineages.

- Ancient Period (3000-2600 B.C.): "Capital zone" growth; plazas and impressive buildings constructed.

- Final Middle Period (2300-2200 B.C.): Buildings enlarged in area and volume; large platforms and plazas constructed.

- Initial Late Period (2200-2100 B.C.): Public buildings remodelled; plazas constructed with quadrangular platform framework.

- Final Late Period (2100-1800 B.C.): Public buildings remodelled (using smaller stones); occupation of site reduced.

Throughout the occupancy of the site, there have been periods of great change, and it is possible to see clear distinctions in the design and architecture of the city, and the burial and renewal of buildings. There have also been minor changes or phases within each of the periods.

Each period is distinguishable from the one preceding it in several ways: elements of architectural style; building techniques; materials; and the colour of paint used on walls. However, the overall design is maintained as well as the associated cultural traditions and building functions. In reply to the letter sent to the State Party by ICOMOS on 13 January 2009 asking for further information regarding the sacred nature of the site, the State Party on 27 February 2009 explained to the satisfaction of ICOMOS the reason for this descriptor. The archaeological work to date has enabled researchers to establish the sacred nature of Caral through both architectural and contextual analyses. Both the city (in its urban plan) and its component parts (including, for example, the pyramidal structures and residences of the elite) show clear evidence of ceremonial functions, thereby signifying what can be called a powerful religious ideology.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation