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Paracas and Nasca: Regional Cultures on the South Coast of Peru

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The Handbook of South American Archaeology

The south coast of Peru was the nucleus of two import regional cultures that are exemplary of non-state sociocultural complexity: Paracas during the Early Horizon (ca. 700 BC—AD 1) and Nasca in the Early Intermediate Period (ca. AD 1—700). Geographically, these cultures extended for approximately 375 km along the desert coast, from the Cañete Valley in the north to the Acarí Valley in the south (Figure 29.1). This arid strip of land, sandwiched between the foothills of the Andean Mountains to the east and the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west, was made habitable by several river systems carrying water from the high Andes; all but the Ica River run east-to-west. Irrigation farming provided the main subsistence for these cultures, supplemented by fishing and hunting. This chapter provides an overview of these two ancient societies, which figure prominently in discussions of Central Andean prehistory. The reader wishing a more comprehensive survey should consult, among other works, Paul (1990, 1991), Tello (1959), Tello and Mejía Xesspe (1979), Proulx (1968, 2006), Silverman (1993, 2002) and Silverman and Proulx (2002).

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Proulx, D.A. (2008). Paracas and Nasca: Regional Cultures on the South Coast of Peru. In: Silverman, H., Isbell, W.H. (eds) The Handbook of South American Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-74907-5_29

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