Upon understanding John Rowe's theory of horizons, I became a bit confused about what should be considered a culture. This concept isn't very clear to me.

According to John Rowe, the earliest period is named Preceramic and it spans from Who knows when up to 9500 B.C., and it does mention the first evidence of human occupation.

This Preceramic period ends in 1800 B.C and from then on it mentions Chavin as a culture (properly) and begins to build up horizons, or this is what I'm understanding.

However, I'm still confused if, according to this theory, is it okay to assume that when humans started to settle in ancient Peru before 9500 B.C., did they constitute a culture?. Other than John Rowe's, is there any recorded evidence which suggests the use of that particular name for the humans who settled in that time frame?.

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    Well...what do you want to consider a "culture"? I ask because archeologists use that term for layers of similar finds, some of which actually predate Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 23:59
  • Perhaps you could read the Wikipedia article on Archaeological cultures and then edit your question to clarify what you find confusing. Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 3:22
  • @T.E.D. Actually I was not very knowledgeable about the term so I had to go to Wikipedia article and it redirected me to material culture and then I ended up on culture which states as "the social behavior and norms found in human societies" different from "material culture which regards as the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art". So for one to exist the other must also exist?. Is that what am I understanding correctly?. Can this be explained better in layman terms?. I'd just like to know what is the opinion of the majority regarding the oldest culture. Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 15:00
  • @T.E.D. From this I must say that my question was regarding to the time when John Rowe proposed his theory what did He regarded as the "oldest" culture. Probably what he considered as culture at the time of his findings. Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


Archaeologist John Adivasio, from the Florida Atlantic University, with the collaboration of a specialized team, has discovered a variety of artifacts in Huaca Prieta, Peru that may date as far as 15000 B.C., some of them were used for fishing and agriculture. Such artifacts prove the existence of what we may call a culture, although the chronology may be off by a thousand years or so. There's also an interesting reading that traces back maize and corn to Peru. I guess this answers your question, you may ask any further doubt you have. Earlier articles state that we can be sure of the existence of a peruvian civilization starting from 1800 B. C.

Edit: I've found other reputable sources, Haas (2001) and Mann (2005), claiming that the oldest human settlement in Peru is Norte Chico, more specifically that of Huaricanga. It is worth noting that both sources are somewhat outdated compared to the article of Ph.D. Adivasio, written in 2017.

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    so from this answer It can be assumed that whatever appeared in the Preceramic period in John Rowe's theory were cultures?, although he did not named them other than just telling their sites. He just began to use names after the Preceramic period at the start of the Early horizon. Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 15:03
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    Precisely, since those cultures were defined as such by their agriculture development, village constructions and fishing.
    – Pablo Ivan
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 17:46

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