Inca Civilization

The Inca civilization was the largest Pre-Columbian civilization in the Americas and Cusco was its capital. The best kept example of its architecture is Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

The Sacred City is one of the most significant archeological sites left by the Incas


Fascinating culture and Inca heritage of this beautiful country

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. It occupies an important place in Inca mythology.

Animals of Peru

Animals in Peru have specialized and adapted to the conditions of its geography. At higher altitude levels, few animals and plants can survive because of the lack of oxygen.

Home » History, Pre-Inca Civilizations

Middle Horizon-Wari,Tiwanaku and Lambayeque Cultures

Submitted by |

The Middle Horizon period extends from approximately 600 to 1000. The Mochica and Nasca cultures were debilitated possibly by the effects of El Niño. As a result new cultures took over and flourished creating the first Andean Empire that extended from Cajamarca in the north to northern Bolivia and Argentina in the south.


Wari: Great Urbanizers

It developed between 550-900 in Ayacucho in the Peruvian Andes. It was the Wari who consolidated the construction of urban cities in the territory. The city was not only a place of residence but also a place of work; there were palaces, offices, workshops, temples and markets. Most of the cities were large and were built using the same plan; all the cities resemble each other; narrow streets intersected each other in straight lines. They build canals to provide water and a drainage system for rain. They also had places for garbage.

Ruins of Wari city outside Lima


At present, ruins of Wari cities can be found in Ayacucho, Cusco, Lima, and Mantaro. The largest walled settlements are Piquillacta, outside Cusco, and Cajamarquilla, outside Lima. They also built roads to connect the cities. The Wari were considered an Empire since they controlled a large territory that extended from the coast to the Andes and to the rainforest region. The success of its government is due to its administrative centers built at great distance from the city of Wari. They had different types of governments adapted to the individual development of the local cultures. The Wari kept records using knots in colored strings called “quipu”, they were usually made out of llama or alpaca hair or could also be made of cotton threads. The Incas inherited this system.

Tiwanaku: Accomplished Shepherds

The Tiwanaku developed in the Peruvian and Bolivian Altiplano, the ruins of the highest urban center in the New World still stand near Lake Titicaca, 44 miles west of La Paz. Its development was parallel to the Wari, from approximately 550 to 1000AD. The Altiplano is characterized for the dryness of its land and to adapt to the natural condition of its soil, they had to plant tubers, such as potatoes; and grains, such as quinua, these crops are able survive freezing winters and long dry seasons. To expand its agricultural base they developed a technology that is still in use to this day. These are “camellones” or raised and elongated planting mounds surrounded by canals which supplied moisture to the crops. The purpose was to control the effects of floods and frost. Their main wealth was provided by herds of alpacas and llamas which supplied food, clothing and means of transport.

Tiwanaku architecture inherited by the Incas


The Tiwanaku built stone cities, its temples and architecture are characterized by its use of large carved stones of exceptional workmanship. It is believed that the Incas inherited their construction technique. They built large urban cities and as the population grew they expanded to the south reaching what today is Chile and Argentina. The Tiwanaku most commonly used soft power to create colonies, they absorbed their culture rather than eradicating them. Trade was the most usual means to control and make a new colony dependent, other times they used force to colonize. The Inca Empire inherited their socialist economy from the Tiawanaku. Each person in the Empire had an occupation and all their basic needs were fulfilled by the elite. There was a division of occupations and a hierarchy within the social strata. The collapse of the Tiwanaku was due to a lowered agricultural productivity which caused widespread famine among its population. This was the consequence of a drastic climatic change that brought a severe drought to the region lasting from 950 AD to 1100AD. Eventually its well run administrative system fragmented and was absorbed by the Incas.

Lambayeque: Skilled Goldsmiths

After the decline of the Moche culture a new civilization emerged, the Lambayeques. They lived in the northwest coast of Peru between 700 and 1100 AD in what today is the department of Lambayeque. The Lambayeque or Sican culture developed large urban cities and its economy thrived on trade with other cities.


Lambayeque inhabitants were skilled goldsmiths

They built large ceremonial pyramids, the most important ones is a group of 25 of them known as Tucume. But they are best know for their goldsmith skills. Lambayeque goldsmiths left numerous gold, silver and copper objects that they created in workshops like Batan Grande in the ancient city of Poma located in a national park 40 km northeast of Chiclayo in the Lambayeque Region in Peru. Their designs were very delicate, complex and fine, among them are sacrificial ceremonial knives known as Tumi and masks. The Tumi is the national symbol of Peru.

The first Lambayeque King was Naylamp. Legend tells that a hero named Ñam lap (Naylamp) arrived in the coast of Lambayeque with his wife and servants bringing a green stone icon named Llampayec. He arrived by sea from the south followed by a float of rafts setting off a new civilization named after the god Llampayec. When Naylamp died he grew wings and flew away. Years later one of his descendants Fempallec, under the spell of a woman took the icon Llampayec from the temple. According to the legend, as punishment it rained for 30 days followed by years of darkness – desolation and disorganization- eventually they were conquered by the Chimus.


Norte Chico and Kotosh

These Pre-Inca cultures belong to the Ceramic and Initial Periods.

Chavin, Paracas and Lima

These pre-Inca cultures belong to the Early Horizon Period dating back 3000 years.

Nasca and Moche

Cultures thriving in the Early Intermediate Period date from approximately 200BCE to 600CE

Chimu and Chincha

The Late Intermediate Period is period is characterized for the rapid artistic and technological development of its metallurgic and crafts production.

Inca Civilization

The Inca Civilization was the largest pre-Columbian Civilization in the Americas.

Back to Pre-inca Civilizations


Back to Home page

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,