Throughout her career, she has directed many different projects of archeological investigation on the coast, the highlands and the rain forests of Peru, placing emphasis on the study of the development of the complex socio-political organizations. She was director of the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Antropología del Perú (National museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of Peru), and director of the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology of National University of San Marcos. She has worked at the Caral site from 1994 onwards and is credited with the discovery of the first known civilization of Peru; Shady has named the civilization after Caral, while the term Norte Chico has been adopted in English.
In 2001, Shady and others published radiocarbon dates from the site of Caral in the Supe Valley of Peru, indicating that monumental corporate architecture, urban settlement, and irrigation agriculture began in the Americas by 4090 years before the present (2627 calibrated years B.C.) to 3640 years before the present (1977 calibrated years B.C.). Caral is located 23 kilometers inland from the Pacific coast and contains a central zone of monumental, residential, and nonresidential architecture covering an area of 65 hectares. Caral is one of 18 large preceramic sites in the Supe Valley.
Dr. Shady holds the offices of President of ICOMOS-PERU, principal professor and co-ordinator of the master of archeology graduate program faculty of social sciences of the UNMSM and director of the special archeological project Caral-Supe/INC.
- Ruth Shady Solis, Jonathan Haas, Winifred Creamer. Dating Caral, a Preceramic Site in the Supe Valley on the Central Coast of Peru, Science 27 April 2001: Vol. 292. no. 5517, pp. 723-726.
- Shady Solís, Ruth Martha (1997). La ciudad sagrada de Caral-Supe en los albores de la civilización en el Perú. Lima: UNMSM, Fondo Editorial. http://sisbib.unmsm.edu.pe/Bibvirtual/Libros/Arqueologia/ciudad_sagrada/caratula.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-03. (Spanish)