Nazca culture


The Nazca civilization or culture flourished on the southern coast of Peru between 200 BC. C. and 600 AD They settled in the town of Nazca and in other surrounding valleys along with its main religious and urban sites such as Cahuachi and Ventilla, respectively. The culture is noted for its distinctive pottery and different types of textiles , and perhaps most of all for the geoglyphs made on the desert floor commonly known as the Nazca lines . These can be simple lines, clear spaces, or animals and figures drawn in contour, and, as they cover several kilometersare best appreciated from the air.


What is the Nazca culture?

It was a civilization that emerged in pre- Hispanic times and was born in Peru . It is considered as a continuation of the Lean culture since both had the same customs and development techniques.



The Nazca culture was born in ancient Peru, in the Nazca province around silo I. It managed to influence Pisco and Arequipa . Its impressive polychrome ceramics were the feature that characterized this culture, its textile art and metalwork. The most important aspect of the culture are the Nazca Lines where they reflected their knowledge of meteorology and geography.


It is believed that its origin comes from the Paracas culture . The culture went into decline in 600 AD when it lost religiosity.

Who discovered the Nazca culture

The Nazca culture was discovered by the German archaeologist Federico Max Uhle in 1900 and he was the person who studied it for the first time. He made the first chronological design that identified the origin and typology of the culture.


Some of the main characteristics of the Nazca culture are:

  • The main feature were the geoglyphs , the great lines in the desert.
  • Its pottery was full of colors and varied shapes.
  • They used iconography of a religious nature.
  • They performed human sacrifices in wars and ceremonies.
  • Its agriculture was the base of its economy .
  • They built large aqueducts to bring water to their crops.
  • They performed mummification mainly on women.
  • They practiced cranial deformity.


They were polytheists and pantheists , they worshiped nature and most of the temples and other buildings were created in honor of these deities, with the aim of pleasing the gods and avoiding starvation. Their religion was related to the mystery of the Nazca lines while other archaeologists consider that they were to celebrate different religious rituals. The Nazcas exercised human sacrifices in religious rituals or in warrior ceremonies.


The main God of the Nazca culture was Kon , who was the creator of the world and of men. He was represented with feline masks and a staff. Another of their gods was a strange being considered a hybrid of feline, fish and bird, which was known by the name of Botto .


It was the basis of the Nazca economy. Some settlers had problems with the lands because they were very dry, so they devised aqueducts and wells to be able to supply water to their crops. Their agriculture was solid and they planted mainly yucca, beans, squash, chili, cotton, and guavas. Cotton was used to produce textiles .

Cultural manifestations of the Nazca culture

  • Architecture: the city appeared within this civilization, they built houses to live in and public buildings . Their temples were pyramids and platforms built on natural mounds. There were squares, streets and canals. One of its main structures in La Estaquería , which is a religious center.
  • Ceramics: characterized by the use of polychromy , decoration and shape . They used almost all colors except green and blue. They got the pigments from the deserts. Their initial decoration was naturalistic and later they adapted a  baroque style . His works had abstract and mythical characters.
  • Music : they gave rise to the ceramic antaras that had four different musical notes. Instruments such as quenas, bass drums and drums were also found.
  • Science: they were important astronomers and mathematicians . They did analysis on the movement of the sun, the moon and the stars.


Their language was Quechua . This is a language full of expression that expresses affection, appreciation and trust. Quechua is energetic when it comes to denying, warning or drawing attention.

Customs and traditions of the Nazca culture

They had individual cults that they made as offerings in the form of bundles with plants, threads, hair, trophy heads, etc. They also had collective cults in which they consumed food in ceremonial containers and were accompanied by music with ataras and drums. Another of their customs was that when it was judged that the guaca located in the temple lost its power or was unhappy, the community could rebuild it .

The number of reconstructions were related to the importance and political power of the community. They made human sacrifices in religious rituals or in war ceremonies. They were in charge of modifying the heads of the people who had died, adorning and weaving them, to perform their rites , as an offering to their gods.

Political and social organization, economy

The culture was divided into valleys that had several settlements . Each town had its own authority, which was usually a priest . The Nazca elite lived in the pyramids, which were forged of adobe. The people lived on the outskirts of the city and their houses were built with logs of carob trees that formed the walls.

It focused on its priests who had the power to organize community work and direct religious ceremonial activities. The authorities were made up of large numbers of skilled artisans who lived in small towns and ceremonial centers. The base of society was made up of farmers and fishermen .

Farmers developed agriculture, and lived in thatched huts outside the places they sowed. These huts were grouped in villages around an adobe pyramid that served as a sanctuary .


The main crops that occurred in the Nazca culture were corn, beans, squash, squash, cassava, peanuts, chili peppers, guava, lucuma, pacae, lima beans and cotton.

Astronomical calendar

His calendar was the Nazca Lines . These famous lines are located on a surface of 1000 kilometers. They are a series of figures marked on the ground that represent animals , geometric lines and spirals .

They have a length of approximately 150 and 300 meters. How they were developed or the exact meaning is still unknown. Some think it was for aliens to land, others thought it was a seismograph , but the theory that has the most force is the one that says it was a huge astronomical calendar . They have been declared a World Heritage Site.

Through the calendar, the inhabitants of the culture knew when they should build pyramids, they knew when the rivers would begin to grow in volume and when was the best time to plant their crops. Some scientists even consider that it represents the Constellation of Orion .

Nazca culture cities

Some of its main cities were:

  • Cahuachi: archaeological center of the Nazca culture.
  • Estaquería: it is a solar observatory.
  • Chauchilla: cemetery in Nazca.
  • Paredones: archaeological site.
  • The aqueducts of Cantalloc


It was located along the southern coast of Peru in the Ica Region, in the valleys of Pisco, Nasca, Cañete, Chincha, Ica and Acarí. It received great influence from the Paracas culture that developed in that territory.

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