While Peru inevitably evokes images of Machu Picchu and the Inca empire, the country is also riddled with archaeological sites that are a legacy of even more ancient times.
The Inca empire was a recent arrival during the process of cultural development in the Andes during the pre-Hispanic era, and the history of the Incas barely accounts for a century within the 20,000 years of human occupation of Peruvian territory.
Much earlier than the Incas and while civilizations like the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese (3000 and 2000 B.C.E.) flourished, the city of Caral, located north of the city of Lima, was built; this was the first American expression of a preceramic urban settlement with monumental architecture in an area greater than 10 hectares. Later, in the northern highlands, the Chavin achieved significant advances in architecture, engineering, and agriculture. Along the north coast, the Moche civilization (200 B.C.E.-700 C.E.) is famous for its realistic pottery (portraits carved into pots and gourds) and its pyramid-shaped temples.