History of Peru: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Peru is a fascinating country with stories of lost cities, geoglphys and conquistadors! In this lesson you will learn about the history of Peru and what makes it so special.

The Lost City

Imagine finding a lost city! To get there you must hike through dense jungle forest to high mountains, cross wobbly bridges and trek along an ancient footpath. It is a dangerous journey! But when you discover a maze of ancient walls, building ruins and temples, you realize you've found something special. This is what happened to an explorer named Hiram Bingham in 1911 as he was traveling through the Andes Mountains of Peru. And the name of his discovery? Machu Picchu, a lost Inca city, which means 'old peak.'

The Inca city Machu Picchu
Mach Picchu

Where Is Peru?

Peru is a country on the continent of South America. It is centered between the Equator and Tropic of Capricorn and has numerous climates. Peru has three main regions including jungle, highlands which are also known as mountains, and a coast that borders the Pacific Ocean.

Map of Peru

Ancient Peru

Peru was first settled by hunters and gatherers nearly 20,000 years ago! After farming developed, organized cultures began to appear. Remains of the Chavin people can be seen today as they left us with stone sculptures of serpents, birds and jaguars.

Have you ever ridden in an airplane, or maybe looked down from a really tall building? The world looks different when you're so high up! Another ancient culture, Nazca, left behind mysterious geoglyphs, which are large designs made on the ground. These lines, known as the Nazca lines, stretch across 170 square miles, which is the size of New York's Manhattan Island. If you were to look down at the Nazca lines from an airplane you would see spirals, rectangles and even animals including a spider, monkey and lizard! How these ancient people made these lines is still a mystery!

Aerial view of the Nazca lines
Nazca Lines

Inca Empire

The fascinating Inca Empire existed from 1200-1500 AD. An empire is when one powerful state dominates over many and is ruled by an emperor, or king. The Inca did not have a written language, but through their architecture and art, we have discovered a lot about their culture.

Cuzco was the capital of the Inca Empire. It was designed in the shape of a puma, or cougar, and had temples lined in gold and silver! The Incas were master masons and they fit stone blocks together so precisely they have withstood frequent earthquakes and remain intact today. The Inca had a system of roads to connect the empire. The Incas are known for their polished metal work, ceramics, and textiles which are woven fabrics or cloths.

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