The nomination of the Sacred City of Caral-Supe for World Heritage status was approved by UNESCO on June 28, 2009. It was included on the World Heritage List on June 30, 2009.
Following the Operational Guidelines for the application of the World Heritage Convention, the declaration of the Sacred City of Caral-Supe acknowledges two territorial zones:
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved the nomination of the Sacred City of Caral as World Heritage based on criteria ii, iii and iv, namely:
(ii) Exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning, or landscape design.
In the Sacred City of Caral there is evidence of the exchange of goods, knowledge, and ideology with other societies living in the north-central area of Peru, in the regions of Coast, Andean Highlands, and Jungle. There was an inter-regional sphere of interaction between the Santa Valley in the north and the Chillón Valley in the south, and between the Pacific Ocean and the Amazon Basin, over an area of 400 by 300 km; during the Initial Formative period (formerly the Late Archaic, 3000-1800 B.C.). However, the form of social and political organization of these populations, and the level of knowledge they reached went beyond that place and time; their prestige made them into a model. The Caral civilization laid the foundations of organizational structures, and many of the cultural elements created in that civilization would be assumed and continued by other societies. Apart from the diversity of lifestyles, cultures, languages, and political institutions existing in the Central Andes, Caral was present underlying them all for the following four thousand years. Caral-Supe can be considered the “mother culture” that began the original Andean cultural civilizing process, which continued until the Inca Empire. The method for recording information using the “quipu” began in Caral and continued throughout the centuries up to the Inca Empire.
(iii) Bear a unique, or at least exceptional, testimony of a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
The Sacred City of Caral is an exceptional testimony of the Caral civilization, the oldest in the Americas, developed five thousand years ago, almost simultaneously with those of Mesopotamia, Egypt and India. It is a unique laboratory in the Americas, because of its great age, for research into the formation of the State; the urban way of life; social distinction and hierarchies, the roles of trade and the importance of religion in the social organization; aspects that can be compared with the other centers of civilization in the Americas (formed 1500 years after Caral) and in the world with which it was contemporary.
(iv) Be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage or stages in human history.
It is the oldest and most outstanding urban settlement, due to its extension (66 ha), well planned design and construction, and architectural complexity, surpassing all those identified on the new continent between 3000 and 1800 B.C. It shows some similarity to the Mayan cities, but is at least 3300 years older.