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Nazca

History

In 1901 the Peruvian archaeologist Max Uhle was the first to realize that the drifting desert sands hid remnants of a Nazca culture distinct from other coastal peoples. Thousands of ceramics have since been uncovered, mostly by careless huaqueros (grave robbers) who plundered burial sites and sold off their finds to individuals and museums. Archaeologists pieced together the story of this unique culture from its highly distinctive ceramics, from the brightly colored and naturalistic early pottery (AD 200 to 500) to the more stylized and sophisticated designs characterizing the late period (AD 500 to 700), and also the simpler designs of the terminal period (AD 700 to 800), influenced by the conquering Wari people. Invaluable tools for unraveling Peru’s ancient past, the ceramics depict everything from everyday plants and animals to fetishes and divinities; some even echo the Nazca Lines themselves. Even the most heedless observer will soon learn to recognize the strikingly different Nazca ceramics, some of which can be seen in the local archaeological museum and at the Museo Regional de Ica, though the best collections are stashed away at museums in Lima.