The Preceramic Period
10,000 – 1,800 b.C.
The Preceramic Period is considered between the 10,000 – 1,800 years b.C. according to the research proposed by John Rowe (1962) and Edward Lanning (1967), based on a series of common cultural and technological facts.
The Preceramic is defined in three periods:
The Early Preceramic
10,000 – 6, 000 b. C.
Adaptation to the environment started, humans worked hunting or fishing.
The Middle Preceramic
Plants and animals started to be domesticated, human villages were organized in social levels to produce more complicated activities.
The weather conditions 5,800 years ago changed. The Humboldt current, of cold water, came to its present position 5ª south latitude from its original 12ª south latitude, which produced an increasing of marine resources, specially of sardines that were the basic subsistence of coastal groups and made possible the permanent settlement and the population increasing. In the other hand the right manage of water carrying from rivers inside valleys was determinant for the domestication of important plants such as maize, cotton, potato, oca, achira, lima bean, chilli pepper and others that permitted the sprouting of complex societies during the Late Preceramic.
The Late Preceramic Period
3, 500 – 1, 800 b.C.
This was a decisive period during which the beginning of more complex social organization becomes apparent and societies exhibit the progressive urbanization including public architecture on a grand scale.
While the economies of communities in the coastlands remained basically dependent on extractive industry for their subsistence by exploiting the rich potential in marine resources, the people also were practicing agriculture and herding.
Settlement in the Eastern Andean forests took another course, arising from the constant need to shift village locations for ecological reasons. Natural routes following the network of waterways made migration easy.
The alluvial plains of those rivers were favourable for settlement and agriculture, which could be supplemented by hunting, fishing and gathering.
Between 3500 and 3000 B.C. the number of village settlers near the coast increased. Squash, gourds, kidney and lima beans were cultivated, as well as cotton. These crops and others such as maize were not spread or domesticated. As a cultural phenomenon, farming of cotton was sufficiently significant to define a stage within the Late Preceramic Period. Intense exploitation of this crop for textiles replaced earlier dependence on products made from cactus, and junco-sedge fibbers and skins.
Judging by the internal differentiation visible in the relative sizes of the buildings, their forms and material used in their construction, there began on the Peruvian littoral the phenomenon of increasing complexity in the settlements. Population increases and its resultant pressures are manifest in the greater number, scale and interconnection of sites, and these now contain a variety of constructive units. The various stages in this process or urbanization are not understood but the innovations it introduced became evident in the linked concentrations of ambitious structures, comprising large and specialized buildings such as platforms, pyramids, or raised enclosures designed for purposes other than domestic.
The settlements in the highlands are represented by those of the Mito Tradition, which had been studied at the sites of Kotosh, Shillacoto and Wairajirca in the Huánuco Region of the Northern Highlands, La Galagada in the Tablachaca Valley and Piruru in the Tantamayo drainage.
These distinctive constructions were created to provide an environment for religious ceremonies in which the burning of offerings was a critical element. The excellent condition of most buried structures, and the care with which they had been covered, led investigators to refer to this practice as “temple entombment”. Apparently these centres shared a set of religious beliefs which entailed similar kinds of ritual activities and, consequently, required a similar type of ceremonial building.
The underlying religious ideology and its material expression is sacred architecture has been called the Kotosh Religious Tradition. Although there are differences in the ritual chambers, the core architectural element of these buildings that allowed the rites to be performed was always maintained.
In the area of the Central Coastlands it is notice an Initial Space (Chu – 2008) composed by the sites between Huaura and Fortaleza where is clear the transition from simple villages to complex ceremonial centres. Currently, the sites Aspero, Bandurria, El Paraiso, Rio Seco, and Vichama correspond to this Initial Space and the Caral site represent the organizational achievement with complex ceremonial architecture.