Cite

Nazca

Nazca or Nascaboth: näs´kä [key], ancient culture of the Nazca, Pisco, and Ica river valleys on the desert coast of S Peru. Flourishing during the first millennium AD, the Nazca culture seems to have developed out of the Paracas culture, and after 900 it was apparently under Tiahuanaco influence until the Inca conquered the region in the 15th cent. The Nazca excelled in the production of beautiful ceramics and textiles. Highly polished, expertly designed, and with polychrome painting, Nazca pottery is unlike that of other Peruvian cultures. Textiles show a multitude of weaving techniques and extraordinary skill in dyeing with several shades of the same color; both coastal cotton and highland alpaca wool were used. Aerial exploration of the arid tableland surrounding the Palpa valley has revealed a remarkable network of lines and trapezoids interspersed with giant animal and human figures of unmistakable Nazca origin; the purpose of the figures and the lines are not well understood, and researchers have suggested that they had astronomical, calendrical, agricultural, or religious significance. Similar geoglyphs known as the Palpa Lines are earlier and believed to be the work of the Paracas.

See J. A. Mason, The Ancient Civilizations of Peru (1957, rev. ed. 1964); G. H. S. Bushnell, Peru (1956, rev. ed. 1963); E. P. Lanning, Peru before the Incas (1967); E. Hadingham, Lines to the Mountain Gods: Nazca and the Mysteries of Peru (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: South American Indigenous Peoples