In 1532 the Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America to find the Incas ruling a great empire. The diffusion of this important encounter meant that the most remembered Peruvian culture to date has been that of the Incas. However, civilization first emerged thousands of years before in ancient Peru.
In the centuries following the Spanish conquest, chroniclers wrote and illustrated reports or chronicles regarding all that occurred in the Americas. From these lands they frequently sent information, both written and illustrated, regarding the history of the region, paying particular attention to the government of the Incas.
These chronicles reached Spain, where they were translated into other European languages in order to satisfy the great curiosity which existed regarding everything related to the New World. Today we can only understand the enormity of the impact of the discovery of the New World and the fascination it provoked if we compare the event to how we might react if faced with the eventual discovery of intelligent life on other planets.
For almost 400 years, from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century, when conversation turned to Peru mention was made only of the Incas, and their culture became world famous.
The first archaeological work during the first years of the 20th century showed that the Incas had only governed Peru during the last 150 years of a period of cultural development which stretched back more than 10,000 years.
Of all the historic achievements recorded in Peru, almost without a doubt the most important is the fact that it is one of the few places on Earth where civilization emerged independently approximately 5000 years ago.
We invite you to learn more about the sophisticated nature of the cultures which flourished in Peru several centuries before the rise of the Incas.