Late Intermediate Period – Chimu and Chincha Cultures
The Late Intermediate Period extends from approximately 1000 to 1470. This period is characterized for the rapid artistic and technological development of its metallurgic and crafts production. In their craft production they used semiprecious stones such as turquoise and emeralds, wood, sea shells, textiles and pottery and exported it to the different regions of ancient Peru.
Chimu and the great city of Chan Chan
Around the year 1000 the Chimu absorbed the Wari and Lambayeque or Sican cultures becoming the largest empire in Peru. It extended through the north coast from Piura to Lima. The Chimu created a strong empire that lasted until the fifteenth century and came to an end when the Incas conquered them absorbing many of their practices in its own society.
Walls of the City of Chan Chan
The Chimu were fantastic farmers, fishermen and artisans but they are most famous for its architecture. Chan Chan was the Chimu capital city built around 850 or 900 and was the most important political center in the north. It is believed to have housed more than 100,000 people. The walled city was built out of mud bricks and housed the elite and its family. It enclosed a number of palaces with a labyrinth of rooms and passageways that can still be seen today, there was a large plaza in the center of the city and a burial ground for kings.
Chimu art – birds carved on Chan Chan wall
All the walls were beautifully adorned with marine motives such as waves, fishing nets and fish. Commoners lived outside around the walled city making ceramics, working the land, fishing and weaving to provide for the elite. As the Chimu expanded geographically they became richer from trade and tribute. They collected tax from the territories they conquered, but these territories also benefited from the additional trade and wealth that the Chimu brought with them.
Chincha: The merchants
They developed at around the same time as the Chimu, about the year 1000. The Chinchas lived in the south coast in the Valley of Chincha. The natural conditions of the valley lead to great agricultural activity in the area which became one of the main economical activities. The Chinchas created and managed a long distance trade network between Chincha, Cusco, the Altiplano in Bolivia and the coast of Ecuador. To the Altiplano they transported goods in a caravan of llamas. The main goods transported were mullu (a shell considered food for the Gods) dry fish, seaweed and other salted seafood products. In exchange they received copper and coca leaves. In the coast of Ecuador they arrived in rafts or floats made of wood. They brought them copper, a much valued metal used to make tools. And from there they obtained emeralds, gold and other products. These merchants were very appreciated by local cultures and gained great prestige among the Incas.
These Pre-Inca cultures belong to the Ceramic and Initial Periods.
These pre-Inca cultures belong to the Early Horizon Period dating back 3000 years.
Cultures thriving in the Early Intermediate Period date from approximately 200BCE to 600CE
The Middle Horizon period extends from approximately 600 to 1000. New cultures emerged and creating the first Andean Empire.
The Inca Civilization was the largest pre-Columbian Civilization in the Americas.