Coastal Desert - Physical Landscapes

Pacific shores of Peru's northern coast

Image: A view of the Pacific shores of Peru's northern coast.

Exploring the coastal landscape in ancient times is critical to understanding the emergence of civilization in the area. Adaptations to life in a desert environment and coping with cataclysmic events in the past, such as El Niño, have shaped the rise and fall of cities and empires. For example, by attempting to reconstruct past environments, some scholars have suggested that major droughts and floods may have contributed to the fall of the north coast Moche culture.

Come on a journey into the past and explore this ancient desert terrain, crisscrossed with river valleys, and discover the wildlife from land and sea. Learn how coastal peoples coped with this land of extremes and how the resources of this desert area were harnessed by people such as the Chimú to build the enormous city of Chan Chan in the north and secure food and shelter for hundreds of thousands.