The Northern Central coast of Peru was once home to the Norte Chico civilization, the oldest known civilization in the Americas. Ancient Americans settled there around 3,000 BC, and built a fascinating civilization that lasted for about 1200 years. Recent excavations have shown that the Norte Chico people quickly switched from hunter gatherers to a fairly complex society with impressive architecture, housing, and a barter-system economy. It is amazing to think that this society was so complex, even though they left behind no clues like pottery, writing or art. Apparently, the Norte Chico people never developed ceramics, and they also lacked a central grain-based agricultural system, which are two elements that usually helped ancient societies develop. However, archaeologists have discovered ruins that suggest the Norte Chico people were able to build pyramids and adobe houses despite the inhospitable climate. Researchers believe the society declined as its people moved to more fertile areas and learned about irrigation. For years, the Norte Chico area did not receive much attention, mostly due to its rough climate. However, anthropologists and archaeologists now see these ruins as a stepping stone in the path to modern day civilization. Today, visitors to Peru marvel at the ancient ruins from the first society to develop in the Americas.