The association of urbanism and complex society is common in archaeological literature, but the definition of urbanism and the identification of urban settlements in the field have been plagued by inconsistencies. Nowhere is this clearer than in the continuing canon that there was an urban tradition on the south coast of Peru that reached its height in the late Early Horizon (ca. 400-1 B.c.) and Early Intermediate Period (ca. A.c. 1-600) and then disappeared with the fall of the highland Wari Empire during the Middle Horizon (ca. A.c. 600-1000). One of the key sites in the promulgation of such an interpretation has been the great early Nasca center of Cahuachi, in the Nazea Valley, but recent excavations at Cahuachi dispute the site’s widely contended urban nature. This research also forms the basis for a necessary reanalysis and reconstruction of south coast settlement pattern and its associated sociopolitical milieu. This paper presents the strategy and results of the new research undertaken at Cahuachi and includes suggestions for future fieldwork.
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