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120 miles north of Lima, on a scarp overlooking a lush valley carved through Peru's dusty Andean foothills, a team from Peru's San Marcos University discovered the Caral ruins.

The team painstakingly excavated the arid hillocks above the Supe River to reveal six ancient pyramids (the tallest one of which is 60 feet high and a staggering 500 feet long), an amphitheatre and a residential complex that have been dated to as early as 2627 BC.

The discovery of these ruins, carbon dated to some 100 years before the Great Pyramid at Giza, has been hailed as the most exciting find in Peru since 1911 when Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled on the ruined Inca citadel of Machu Picchu hidden in the clouds of the craggy Andean highlands.

Anthropologists working at Caral believe that the windswept structures of stone, mud, and tree trunks, built by a priestly society without the aid of wheels or metal tools, will provide a glimpse of the birth of urban society in the Americas and may challenge theories that the earliest civilizations settled by the sea.

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