Thirty major ceremonial and residential centers dating to the Late Archaic period (3000 to 1800 BC) have been identified in the four valleys of the Norte Chico region of Peru. In terms of area, the number of monumental structures, and size, there is no sign of a hierarchical relationship among the sites. Radiocarbon evidence suggests most were occupied contemporaneously during the period 2400-2000 BC. We explore the idea that these centers represented relatively independent polities engaged in peer-to-peer competition for religious participants and labor.