Peru Chronology

By | December 21, 2021

If the relative chronology of the various civilizations of Peru comes out – as we have seen – just now from the shadows, it is quite natural that, in the matter of absolute chronology, there is the most unbridled anarchy, and every writer lets his own temperament indulge. In general, the public favors and consecrates the proponents of fantastic antiquities. Thus we see Posnansky postulating – on the basis of an alleged astronomical calculation – the enormous figure of 13,000 years for Tiahuanaco. The Tello, from Lima, examines the indigenous tradition handed down by the chroniclers Ayala (1613) and B. de Salinas (1630), of four successive eras, of the Various Viracocha Runa, Vari, Purún and Auca Runa, which would assign from 5300 to 3600 years overall to the Peruvian period that preceded the Incas, while it is – with all evidence – a local form of the myth of the four successive creations and of four human races (Runa means precisely “men”), which is characteristic of some peoples of Asia and the Mexicans. For Peru 2006, please check

The Uhle, based on the average duration of 500 years of the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean, traces the following chronological picture: proto-coastal cultures, between 200 and 700 AD. C .; Tiahuanaco, from 500 d. C. to 1000; the Inca, between 1300 and 1500. As for the Incas, it is easy to locate the 12 kingdoms in the two or three centuries that preceded the conquest. The list of Montesinos, the only discordant among the chroniclers, which includes a hundred sovereigns, grouped in successive dynasties, is to be considered, despite the efforts made recently to rehabilitate it, a compilation error. Montesinos collected provincial names and traditions on the Incas in various places, and then put them all in a row, without eliminating the correspondences; this explains the many gaps in his Mem0rias which consist of too many names, often repeated, and few historical facts. The chronological scheme of the Uhle has the great merit of tracing the succession: 1. proto-coastal civilization, 2. plateau, 3. regional civilizations, which shows itself capable of orienting us on the period prior to the Incaic period. The concrete assignment of the figures indicating the years is, however, by no means provisional, and leaves room for future adjustments. The weakness of Uhle is having given excessive value to the concept of the so-called “cultures” of Peru, where it is evident that, if the styles were many, the “cultures” were fewer. And in fact, after the excavations by Kroeber (1926), Olson (1930) and Doering (1932), the conviction begins to emerge that Tiahuanaco and Epigono, chronologically assimilated, are only contemporaries of the Protonasca. In this sense, therefore, Seler was right, when he affirmed that some of his schematic types were not to be considered later, but contemporary.

Furthermore, these distinct civilizations will not make full sense until the links that unite them to the various cultural phases are discovered: the Primitives, the Farmers, the Hunters-shepherds and the Builders of states. Finally, it is necessary to weld the Peruvian scheme, continuing the laudable attempt by Uhle and W. Lehmann, with the Mayan-Mexican scheme. As for the monogenism or polygenism of Peruvian prehistory, it will be useful to leave the subjective stories based on local economic and artistic transformations, and to fix the cornerstones of the human movements that brought to the coast the truncated pyramids of Isthmian America and the star-shaped maces of the Melanesia, on the Plateau the sculptures and steles of Colombia, in Chavín and Tiahuanaco, probably entering from Aija and Nepena, the feline-gorgonic monster of Mexico and Eurasia.

Sources. – The following direct and indirect evidence can be used to reconstruct the Peruvian antiquities: 1. the Spanish chroniclers of the Indies, who wrote in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; mainly the military Cieza de León (1550), Juan de Betanzos (1551), Sarmiento de Gamboa (1572) and Pedro Pizarro (1571) brother of the “Conquistador”; geographers; the clergymen Vicente de Valverde (1541), J. de Acosta (1590), C. de Molina (1584), José de Arriaga (1621), A. de la Calancha (1638-53): Fernando de Montesinos (1644) and the Neapolitan Aniello Oliva (1631); the jurists Polo de Ondegardo (1570), J. de Matienzo and J. Solórzano; finally the two mestizo (Indo-Spanish) writers Blas Valera (1595) and Garcilaso de la Vega (1583-1613); 2. the archaeological monuments, both those still lying in the ground, both those unearthed and kept in the museums of Peru and of the world (many, unfortunately, in private collections, more or less inaccessible to the scholar); 3. the skeletal remains, which serve as a basis for the anthropological examination, and especially the skulls, to investigate artificial deformation; 4. the ethnographic elements, both from excavations and from present populations, which can lead, through ethnological surveys, to the reconstruction of cultures.

As for the chroniclers, their use requires a subtle internal and external criticism of their writings, which are strewn with errors and contradictions. They are still valid today as a subsidiary element of control, while until recently they constituted the only testimony followed by the Peruvianists, and this is largely due to the obscurity that reigns over the fundamental issues of ancient Peru. The archaeological remains are abundant and dispersed; among the best known are ceramics and fabrics. But the criterion with which the large collections were formed, which was above all artistic, disdaining and useless the unadorned vases exhumed in the excavations, is to be condemned. The anthropophysical factor, misused by Morton and von Tschudi, could provide some help, where the bone remains were always carefully documented as to local and racial origin. Maggiore lume promises the examination of the artificial deformation of the skull, which, after von Tschudi and Virchow, is taken up by the Imbelloni with a chorographic vision and cultural criterion. But above all it is necessary, if we want to achieve a certain clarity in the future, apply the cultural method integrally, and establish correlations, contacts and priorities with the help of the entire heritage of cultural heritage and not just with the comparison of decoration and styles. artistic, which so far has been given too much value.

Peru Chronology