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The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru Paperback – January 1, 1998


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The Ancient Kingdoms of Peru + Lost City of the Incas (Phoenix Press) + The Incas: People of the Sun
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140233814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140233810
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

NIGEL DAVIES studied at the National University of Mexico and took his doctorate in archaeology at London University. He is the author of a number of studies on Latin American culture, including The Ancient Kingdoms of Mexico, which is also published by Penguin.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Vic G on May 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Davies' book on the ancient 'kingdoms' of Peru covers several key pre-Spanish cultures and civilizations in the Andean highlands -- among them Chavin, Moche, Nazca, Tiahuanaco, Huari, Chimu, and Inca -- and highlights several important archaeological sites, citing both contemporary Spanish sources and more recent discoveries. He presents a decent overview of these peoples' buildings, monuments, mythologies, and artwork in readable prose. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of the Incans, which I thought was pithy but comprehensive.

However, I found the discussion of all but the Incans lacking in quite a few areas: agriculture (how did these people feed themselves, how advanced were their hunting/fishing techniques, domestication technologies, irrigation), mastery of materials (which cultures harnessed copper, which bronze, etc.), to name a few. Pre-Chavin cultures such as Norte Chico were omitted entirely. Moreover, he mentions a few facts which seem oddly incongruous with accepted anthropology, and are at best misleading. For instance:

(1) He describes the Incan capital of Cuzco as 'often conceived as a mountain lion', with one part of the city supposedly named for 'the lion's tail' in Quechua. Conceived by whom? I didn't know Panthera leo was indigenous to the Andes? Could the 'lion' have referred to another feline species?

(2) In his discussion of Incan commoners, he mentions their basic food as chuno, which was 'mixed with water, salt and pepper'. The modern notion of salt-and-pepper contains various species of Piper which grew exclusively in South India. It is more likely he meant Schinus molle, or Peruvian pepper, which was prepared differently.

(3) In his discussion of Incan bridges, he describes the 'sides of one bridge' as 'so carefully crafted that even if a horse fell on all fours, it could not tumble off'. This is misleading as there are no horse species indigenous to the Americas.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian Allen VINE VOICE on February 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Prior to a trip to Peru I also purchased this book to learn more about the varied ancient cultures that are in evidence at Nazca, Machu Picchu, Sipan and other sites throughout Peru.

The author discusses most of the early cultures of Peru but tends to dwell on the pottery designs with additional forays into the architecture and art but not much else. I tended to think that his expertise may have been in these areas but would have appreciated a wider perspective. Perhaps that is not possible from what is available in the archeological record. I found my interest lagging a bit as I forged through all the changes in pottery from one culture to the next.

Occasionally there were more absorbing sections of the book when the author was able to supplement the pottery record with tales of grave robbers and for example the fascinating discovery of the Lord of Sipan tomb. The book became a far better read as he discussed the era of the Incas, and this section was quite engaging, it almost seemed to be written by another author.

I would have found the inclusion of more maps of the sites discussed in the book to be of great help in understanding the cultures, more pictures and illustrations also could benefit a future edition.
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25 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Nobody's Business on August 24, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book in preparation for a trip I was taking to Peru. I wanted to understand a bit about where I was traveling. Davies' style is reasonably conversational, considering the academic nature of the subject. Thus I was pleased to be able to read the book without wishing I was doing something else.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book delves into the many early cultures of Peru with some appreciation for those civilizations' contributions to the world. I didn't find the photos very helpful, and would have appreciated more maps.
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By Lee A. Trujillo Lopez on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was needed for college. It was not in the bookstores. Amazon had a good price.
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