Nazca is famous for the “lines,” or geoglyphs, that attract thousands of tourists to Peru's south coast each year. But Nazca also offers an intriguing archaeological case study of one of the ancient world's most fascinating examples of cultural adaptation to an extreme environment, the Atacama Desert of the central Andes. The pre-Hispanic people of the Nazca Valley, known generically as the Nazca culture, succeeded in one of the driest places in the world, where geological conditions throughout the valley made long-term maintenance of a complex society especially challenging.

Christina Conlee's goal for this book is to examine the development of culture in the Nazca region, employing information from her excavations at an archaeological site known as La Tiza—a settlement occupied for some 5,000 years that overlooks the confluence of the Aja and Tierras Blancas tributaries of the Nazca river system. Conlee...

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