Museum Collections - Ancient Peru
Ancient Peru includes three distinct geographic zones: the coastal desert, the Andes mountains and the Amazon jungle. Historically, these zones also developed as distinct cultural areas. Important characteristics of the pre-Spanish Andes included state-level societies, and regional polities (which originated in one geographic zone and went on to influence cultural development in the other zones). One example was the Chavín culture and religious cult, which originated in the highlands and later spread to the coastal zones.
On the North Coast, the Moche and the Lambayeque cultures built on earlier traditions to culminate in the Chimú culture. The Nasca culture developed out of the Paracas culture, and flourished in the river valleys on the South Coast. The Wari culture, which originated in the central highlands, is another example of a regional state that influenced coastal culture. Finally, the Inka state (which originated in the highlands) eventually encompassed most of the coast and highlands, as well as parts of the jungle.