Chimu (chēmōˈ) [key], 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).