About 7800 years ago, people built the ceremonial structure now known as the Huaca Prieta. However, what is buried beneath it is what has secured Huaca Prieta as one of the oldest archaeological sites in the Americas. Buried deep beneath a massive 30-meter-tall man-made mound, a complex system of tombs have exposed clues to an ancient pre-Incan culture.
Animal bones, stone tools, and plant remains have been left behind by some of the earliest known Americans from 15,000 years ago. Archaeological excavations have revealed subterranean pit dwellings. In the upper lodgings, there were many underground structures whose function remain unknown. They were made of cobblestones cemented with an ash-water mixture. The deepest cavity found took 5 years to excavate, reaching down to 31 meters.
Evidence of early human occupation was unearthed in northern Peru, located at the mouth of the Chicama River. The area indicates proof of ancient coastal life due to the abundance and high diversity of seafood. The earliest residents lived in temporary camps in wetlands, eating mostly chilies, avocados, sharks, mollusks, sea lions, and birds.
Radiocarbon dates the earliest human occupation to nearly 15,000 years ago. These ancient people managed to develop a very efficient means of extracting seaside resources and developed elaborate techniques to collect supplies. It shows how the early people were not just passing through this region, but settling and relying on the ocean and local plants for food.
These early humans were engaged in very complicated social relationships with each other. Baskets discovered reflect a level of complexity in their society, signaling just how sophisticated their culture was, along with their desire to display their levels of social stature. These basket remnants are evidence that they were created from highly complicated textiles. The arid climate has preserved these pyro-engraved gourds with geometric designs and because of the preservation of the artifacts, reeds that basket makers still use today were also found.
Some of the baskets originated from cotton and dyes found that pre-dated the use of indigo in Egypt's Fifth Dynasty by about 1,500 years. Indigo is one of the most globally widespread dyes and most valued even in the present era. Because of this discovery, they've proven to be one of the most advanced ancient cultures on earth.
Another remarkable discovery was that no weapons, mutilated bodies or any signs of warfare were present on the site, signifying that this discovered ancient civilization was a diplomatic and highly developed culture.
It was also observed that this ancient civilization had some form of economic organization because of the diverse food production approaches that revealed traces of beans, avocados, possibly squash and chili pepper were grown. The presence of these various plants further suggest that the ancient civilization had an extensive trading network. Eventually, the culture became more reliant on crops, ultimately leading to two coexisting economies on the coast.