"In Norte Chico, the path of cultural evolution in the Andean
region diverged from a relatively simple hunting and gathering
society to a much more complex pattern of social and political
organisation," said Alvaro Ruiz, of NIU.
"With this new information, we need to rethink our ideas about
the economic, social and cultural development of the beginnings of
civilisation in Peru and all of South America."
After 1800 BC, when the settlements were abandoned, it is likely
that the Norte Chico people moved to other parts of Peru, taking
their innovations and culture with them.
"One very likely scenario is that they took their irrigation
further north and further south to areas that were more productive,"
said Professor Creamer.
"It is interesting that in the Casma valley, which is directly
north, there are even bigger pyramids, and that was the next major
Question of qualification
Professor Creamer believes it is possible that other major
Andean cultures, like the Chavin civilisation, which thrived about
3,000 years ago, may have descended from the Norte Chico people, or
may have been culturally influenced by them.