Peruvian Inventions

Llamas were bred for carrying goods.

Though not rich in technical inventions, Peru has been the birthplace of many farming developments that are now part of everyday life. The Inca Empire, which predated Peru, was the source of numerous changes, spreading its techniques and culture across the Andes. Recent inventions reflect Peru’s modern day need to look after the environment.

1 Llamas and Alpacas

Alpacas were bred for their soft wool

Llamas and alpacas were domesticated in the high Andes surrounding Lake Titicaca as early as 3500 B.C. Both animals are believed to be descendants of the wild guanaco. Although the Incas were not the first to domesticate llamas and alpacas, they did "invent" a kind of organized breeding program. Llamas were indispensable as beasts of burden for transporting goods across the Inca Empire and their meat and wool were accessible to ordinary people. The soft wool from alpacas was used in exquisite apparel weaved for members of the royal family only. Alpacas were bred exclusively for important members of society. Llamas and alpacas remain important to the modern day economy and belief systems of Peru.

2 Freeze-Dried Potatoes

There are hundreds of types of potatoes in Peru.

Potatoes also come from the high Andes around Lake Titicaca. Over generations, people developed a way of harnessing the cold mountain temperatures to preserve their potatoes. They spread potatoes on the ground at night until they freeze. During the day, they cover the potatoes with straw to protect them from the strong rays of the sun. Villagers then stomp on the potatoes to remove excess moisture and rinse them in a stream of running water to remove their bitter taste. Once prepared, the potatoes are edible for 4 years.

3 Rocket Pioneer

An early interest in space led to a Peruvian invention.

The inventor of the first modern rocket propulsion system was a Peruvian. Pedro Paulet was born near Arequipa, Peru in 1874 and designed, built and tested the first liquid fuel rocket engine. Paulet also designed an early spaceship prototype.

4 Musical Instruments

Samponas were originally played by women.

Many wind and percussion instruments were developed in Peru long before the arrival of the Spanish. The most emblematic instrument of Peru is the sampona, a type of pan pipe made of five or more bamboo pipes of differing sizes. One sampona does not always have the full set of notes, so the pipes are often played as a complementary pair. Another Peruvian instrument is the cajon. This is a wooden box with a round hole in the front. Players sit on the cajon and slap the front face as you would a drum.

5 Environment

Cleaning the air with an artificial tree.

The urban air cleaner was invented in response to the problem of pollution in the busy Peruvian capital of Lima. The 5-meter high metal structure works like a tree to remove pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air. The environmental impact of mining in the Amazon rain forest is a modern day problem for Peru. Peruvian engineer Carlos Villachica invented a simple machine to isolate gold from sand without using dangerous toxic mercury. The small machine instead uses water and biodegradable chemicals to isolate the gold.

Karen Frances has been writing travel guides and articles since 2009. Prior to travel writing, she spent years in education, authoring teaching materials and training manuals. Frances graduated from the University of Oxford with a Bachelor of Arts in modern history.