Chimu, ancient civilization on the desert coast of N Peru. It is believed to have begun c.1200. The Mochica, an earlier civilization, was previously known as early Chimu or proto-Chimu. After the decline of the Mochica (c.800), there was a long transition period about which relatively little is known except that it was probably influenced by Tiahuanaco. The Chimu were urban dwellers and apparently had a powerful military and a complex, well-organized social system. They built many well-planned cities; the largest and most impressive was their capital, Chan Chan. The Chimu exerted considerable influence on the Cuismancu empire, centered at Chancay. The last phases of Chimu civilization were contemporaneous with the rise of the Inca empire, by which it was absorbed c.1460.

See J. A. Mason, Ancient Civilizations of Peru (1957, rev. ed. 1988); V. W. Wolfgang, The Desert Kingdoms of Peru (1965); E. P. Lanning, Peru before the Incas (1967).

South American Indians who maintained the largest and most important political system in Peru before the advent of the Inca. The Chimú state took shape in the early 14th century. It was a highly stratified society, with a mass of peasants labouring under a ruling nobility. Its capital, Chan Chan, on the northern coast of present-day Peru, is now a major archaeological site. The Chimú produced fine textiles and gold, silver, and copper objects. In the 15th century they were conquered by the Inca, who absorbed much of Chimú high culture into their own imperial organization.

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