Gold, pomp, and circumstances surrounded the mummies of Inca emperors, but the elaborate funerary rites at the end of prehistory were only part of a tradition that began thousands of years earlier. Life and Death at Paloma, the first in-depth treatment of burials from a preagricultural South American village, analyzes the life of its people during a revolutionary time in prehistory: the transition from a hunting-gathering-fishing way of life to a more sedentary horticultural society.
Drawing upon the data that he collected as part of the University of Missouri's excavations at Paloma, Jeffrey Quilter gives us the first study of preceramic Peruvian life through his analysis of this site's graves and contents. His extensively illustrated book is also the first attempt to infer social organization from such data for this period—circa 5000 to 2500 B.C.—in Peru. In addition, he presents the only available summary and discussion of the known preceramic interments from western South America.
Coastal Peru is one of the few New World regions where the early development of complex societies can be studied. Life and Death at Paloma will greatly assist such research by specialists in mortuary studies, in Andean prehistory, and in hunter-gatherer societies.