Michael C. Morfenski
Early Peruvian cultures evolved from the prehistoric hunter and gathering tribes. Around 9000 BC the large, hunted, animals were extinct, so supplementation of their diet was needed, and so started the trend toward domestication of plants and wildlife. By 5000 BC food gathering techniques were moving toward cultivation, and a more settled lifestyle occurred. Settled populations, in the Andes, began to increase because of a steadier and expanding food supply and agriculture developed by trial and error as different crops evolved. Cotton, gourds, lima beans, squashes, chili peppers, peanuts, maize, and guava were some of the crops that were grown on the coastal plains. In the highlands quinoa, gourds, potatoes and squash was domesticated. At altitudes higher than 12,000 feet, crops could not be sustained. Short tough grass, was available, which the Andean people used for grazing of their cameloid herds. The cameloids was a staple used for cotton and meat. With the advent of successful agriculture, and expanded food supply, labor is freed up allowing for specialization of labor. This is the catalyst needed to start a complex hierarchy and religious, and belief system. The Cultures of the Andean people primarily developed around the arid coastline but were not limited to the fertile highlands. The Tiahuanaco culture developed in the middle horizon period (600-1000 AD) in the highlands of the Andes. At an altitude of nearly 13,000 feet, Tiahuanaco, is located on the Titiacaca basin, named after the mysterious postglacial lake that is present. A great religious cult developed here, and was the basis for later Inca religions. As farmland in the highlands became scarce, war and conflict arose primarily out of economic necessity for survivability. We can see the spread of cultures caused by conflict with the Huari people who have been found with the Tiahuanacan religion and pottery. The Tiahuanaco and the Huari empires are the first pre Incan empires to develop in the Andes, and are an example of successful cultivation and settlement of civilization.