When I said in Lecture 2 that Caral was only discovered "in the last decade of the last century" (i.e. after 1990) I fell victim to a phenomenon described by Katherine Reece in the book Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public as "mass media reports of shocking new, history-altering discoveries." Broadcasters like the British Broadcasting Service should certainly be commended for their many outstanding productions on history and archeology; but the style of these television series, which always present some interesting archaeological work as groundbreaking and counter to all previous knowledge, is not only sensationalizing but can also be quite misleading - it certainly was in my case.
Caral, a city of the Norte Chico or Supe civilization, came into the limelight through a television program (I cannot remember whether from the BBC or not) in the late 1990s. This was followed by papers in Science in 2001 and Nature in 2005. These reports overshadowed the fact that the ruins of Caral had been known since at least 1945, and that ruins of several other settlements of the Supe civilization (Aspero, Huaca Prieta, Kotosh and others) had been studied before, some as early as 1905. I only became aware of this when I researched early American civilizations for my "Civilizations of the World" Time Atlas project.
Still, it is no exaggeration to say that America's place in the history of early civilizations has only been recognized about 100 years ago. It is also true that much still remains to be learned about civilizations in the tropical parts of South America.
Katherine Reece: Memoirs of a true believer. In Garrett F. Fagan (editor): Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public pp. 96 – 106. RoutledgeFalmer (2006)
Wikipedia: Caral. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caral)