Peru Lesson Plans


Geography and the Environment




Create a Travel Brochure


Peru Archaeology


  • What is Archaeology?  Students should understand that archaeology is a field of scientific study of the life and culture of ancient civilizations by excavation and study of cities and artifacts.  
  • To learn how archaeologists contribute to our knowledge of ancient cultures and peoples. 
  • To discuss how specific ideas and beliefs can have effects on cultures, both ancient and current.

Suggested Resource/Materials:

  • Paper and pencil, 
  • Detailed map(s) of Peru showing its physical characteristics (soil, climate, vegetation, rivers, mountains), 
  • Water colors or tempera paints, 
  • Colored markers,
  • Chart or heavy duty paper, 
  • Web sites.

The lesson:

Before beginning the study of the archaeology of Peru have the students complete a KWHL Chart. (K=What Do We Know?; W=What We Want to Know?; H=How Do We Find Out?; L=What We Learned).  This activity can be done as an entire class or in small groups.  If done in small groups, each groups will share its chart with the entire class and then the class can do a composite of all of the groups. 


  • The Inca civilization is the best known of the ancient civilizations of Peru. Why? 
  • What have archaeologists excavated that gives the world a better understanding of the Inca culture? Discuss the significance of their finds. 
  • Even though the Inca are the best known of the ancient peoples of Peru, their culture only lasted for 100 years. Why? 
  • What contributed to the eventual downfall of the Inca culture? 
  • Why have we not heard of the other ancient civilizations that existed in Peru; for example, the Nazca, the Moche, and the Chimu?  
  • What have archeologists uncovered that gives us an understanding of each of these civilizations?  What have these "finds" told us about their culture? 
  • Who was Dr. Walter Alva and why did the police call him so early in the morning?  
  • Discuss the importance of the "finds" at Lambayeque, Peru for the history of the country.  What do the treasures found there tell us about the culture of each of these ancient peoples in terms of their religious beliefs, economy, social and political structures, and natural resources.
  • Other than the fact that the artifacts found contained precious metals and stones, why were they significant or important then as well as now.  Describe what the archaeologists found in the niche that had been overlooked.  Why was the tomb named "The Lord of Sipan"?  
  • What do these treasures tell us about the culture of these ancient peoples in terms of their religious beliefs, economy, social and political structures, and their natural resources?
  • Is it important for a culture or civilization to keep its artifacts for study?
  • If you were an archaeologist, what part of the world would you like to explore?  Why?

suggested activities:

  • Construct a mental map or structured overview of the Nazca, Moche, and Chimu civilizations. 
  • Construct a map of each of the treasures found in the tomb called "The Lord of Sipan" and describe them, or draw a picture of each.   Draw a mural or create a diagram (not to scale) of each of the treasures found.   
  • Create a newspaper headline of this "find" and write an article stating what was found, their significance for Peru, and other world cultures.  Write an epitaph (inscription on a tomb) or an obituary for a newspaper for "The Lord of Sipan". 
  • Divide the class into small groups that will research and give an oral report, using visual aids, on an ancient archeological site that has been excavated. (Students may choose their own site.) The goal is that students will gain an understanding of the similarities and dissimilarities of cultures.  Before beginning, the class should make a list of questions to investigate about the culture that inhabited the site.
  • Write a list of questions that the class would like to ask Dr. Alva if they could, and role play the interview. 
  • Make a list of items or objects to be placed in a time capsule that you think are excellent representations of your culture and times.  Explain why you chose the things you did.  Do you think they will help archaeologists to understand your culture and times?   If you included different items in the time capsule might archaeologists come to a different understanding of your culture?  Explain your choices and how they might affect the archaeologists' interpretation.
  • Describe an archaeological site found in your area.  


In addition to paper and pencil tests, teachers could use individual or small group projects, oral reports, mental maps or structured overviews for assessment.

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Peru web site links


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