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Although they usually required additional nurture and processing that were beyond the procedures familiar today, the bitter varieties represented a gain in total productivity.

A significant improvement in agriculture was the construction of massive terraces, which not only extended the cultivated area but also created protected microclimates where particular varieties could flourish.

In modern Peru irrigation eventually may permit the cultivation of the lower reaches of most rivers.

Still, it is useful to note that of some 50 rivers descending from the Andean glaciers to the Peruvian coast, only three have water flowing through them year-round.

For several thousand years before the Spanish invasion of Peru in 1532, a wide variety of high mountain and desert coastal kingdoms developed in western South America.

The extraordinary artistic and technological achievements of these people, along with their historical continuity across centuries, have encouraged modern observers to refer to them as a single Andean civilization.

Distance from the sea and the degree of dependence on maritime products, the proximity to irrigation waters from the highlands, and the repeated efforts to control militarily more than a single irrigated valley have all received attention from archaeologists.Usually this evidence has been recovered by professional grave looters but sometimes also by archaeologists themselves.One of the most remarkable of the latter type of finds is the grave of a Moche leader that was discovered near the village of Sipan on the northern coast of Peru in the mid-1980s.Contrasts of 55 to 70 °F (30 to 40 °C) within a single 24-hour period are not uncommon, and nearly 300 nights of frost per year have been recorded on the high, windy plateau (puna) surrounding the lake.(3) Populations settled in such circumstances seem to have endured as others have survived in the Arctic, the Kalahari, and the Gobi, but it is clear that in the Andes a far denser population fared much better than have groups in other environmentally harsh regions, acquiring with time an intimate familiarity with the agricultural and pastoral possibilities of high altitude.

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For 30 years his bookkeepers had recorded on their knotted ) accounts not only everything the Spanish had received from Xauxa warehouses but also, on separate knot-strings, everything that had been considered stolen.