Ruth Shady Solís and the Ancient Site of Caral
Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady Solís is the project director at the ancient site of Caral in Peru’s Supe Valley, where she’s been working since 1994. Caral is one of 30 Late Archaic (3000–1800 B.C.) settlements located along the north central coast of Peru. These sites feature some of the earliest ceremonial architecture in the Americas. Caral in particular features some impressive examples of monumental platform mounds and sunken circular plazas that would have served as ancient stages for ceremonial activities.
Shady investigates the development of social complexity through the monuments at Caral. In 2001, as part of this work, she and a research team used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of reed fibers used in shicra—woven bags stuffed with dirt and rocks used as construction fill. According to Shady and her colleagues, workers used the bags to carry rocks and dirt to build enormous structures called platform mounds, which served as places to conduct religious ceremonies. Instead of reusing the bags, workers placed them, rocks and all, inside the structures’ retaining walls.
- Ruth Madelen Luna Cruz