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Maritime resources played a significant economic role in the prehistoric coastal communities of Central and Northern Peru, and, prior to the current study, it was reasonable to assume they were equally important on the South Coast. In the 1980s, researchers postulated that the Nasca culture of the Early Intermediate Period was a state-level society based on inland agriculture, heavily augmented by aquatic foodstuffs gathered and processed at coastal settlements. Carmichael calls this the Nasca Maritime Hypothesis. It envisioned permanent, ocean front towns providing massive amounts of marine resources to inland centers, in exchange for agricultural produce. The research reported here was designed to test this hypothesis by means of a systematic ground survey covering a fifteen kilometer wide strip back from the shores, stretching from the north end of the Bahía de la Independencia to the southern boundary of the Bahía San Nicolás, a two hundred kilometer straight-line distance more than doubled by the winding coastline, and covering all of the coastlands opposite the inland valleys of Ica and Nazca. In the process, sites from all time periods were recorded, and all ecological zones within the study area were sampled, providing the first comprehensive overview of human exploitation in this region through time.

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Department of Anthropology, University of Maine, Orono


Orono, Maine


Nasca, Nazca, Ica, Maritime Hypothesis, archaeological survey


Archaeological Anthropology

Prehistory of the Ica-Nazca Littoral, Peru



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