Peru is one of the great originating centers of ancient culture, along with Mexico, Mesopotamia, India, and China. Paleolithic man left his first traces here and began to develop villages of hunters-collectors around 6,000 BC (as seen in Lauricocha, Huanuco). Farming settlements began to form around 2,500 BC, growing manioc, lima beans, quinoa, potatoes, cotton and maize.
Prior to the arrival of the Conquistadors from Europe, Peruvian history is divided into five stages or horizons:
Early Horizon (1200 BC - 200 BC): Small states were formed, with the elite holding economic and religious power. Chavin de Huantar (Ancash) belongs to this stage, with its temple of underground passages that include monochromatic pottery and megalithic art. Other key remains are those of Caral (Lima) and Sechin (Ancash).
Intermediate Early Horizon (200 BC - 600 AD): This is the era of the great centers of regional development. The important cultures are those of Tiahuanaco (Puno), Mochica and Lambayeque (Lambayeque and La Libertad), Nasca and Paracas (Ica). Tiahuanaco is known for its Chullpas or funeral towers at Sillustani (Puno); the Mochica are famous for the Royal Tombs of the Lord of Sipan; the Lambayeque built the pyramids of Tucume; the Nascas made remarkable pottery and drew the mysterious Lines in the desert; and the Paracas wove wonderful textiles.
Middle Horizon (600 AD - 900 AD): The epoch when the Wari culture spread throughout the Andean region. Evidence lies in the citadels of Wari (Ayacucho), Pikillacta (Cuzco) and Marca Huamachuco (La Libertad).
Late Intermediate Horizon (900 AD - 1400 AD): This period is marked by a group of regional states with well defined cultural features. The important cultures are those of Chimu and Chincha on the coast; Cajamarca and Huanta in the highlands; and Chachapoyas in the north jungle. The structures of this period are the Chimu citadel of Chan Chan (La Libertad), the funeral center of the Windows of Otuzco in Cajamarca, and the Chanchapoyan citadel of Kuelap (in Amazonas).
Late Horizon (1400 AD - 1532 AD): This is the period predominated by the Incas, native to Cusco, who built an imperial form of government throughout the entire Andean world. Their main legacy is the architectural contribution in the buildings and constructions in Cusco. This period concludes in 1532 with the Spanish Conquest.
The Colonial period developed between 1532 and 1821, from which there is a magnificent artistic heritage. Examples include paintings such as those of the so-called Cusco School; architecture as in the Santo Domingo convent in Cusco (built on the ancient Inca temple of Koricancha) and the convent of Santa Catalina in Arequipa. Independence was declared on July 28, 1821 and later consolidated with the victory of the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824.
A center of cultural dissemination. The ancient inhabitants of this territory began domesticating animals around 6,000 BC, and to develop farming even earlier in 8,500 BC. This process was simultaneous on the coast, in the Andes and in Amazonia. In fact, the Andean area which we call ancient Peru - where the cultures of Chavin, Tiahuanaco, Cajamarca, Recuay, Moche, Chimu, Lambayeque, Paracas, Chincha, Nasca and Wari developed and were later joined under the Inca Empire- is one of the world's first and greatest agricultural centers and one of the major areas from which universal culture spread, together with Mesopotamia, China, India and Mesoamerica.