Top Ten Nazca Artifacts

Top Ten Nazca Artifacts

       Located in the Ica and Nasca Valleys of the south coast of Peru, the ancient Nasca culture dominated a large part of southern Peru between 100 BC and 700 AD. The Nasca people lived in a dry desert environment, intersected with rivers carrying rain from the Andes. In areas with sufficient water, they practiced agriculture and exploited marine resources. Because they depended on water and other natural resources to live, many Nasca activities were devoted to the spiritual powers that controlled the forces of nature. The Nasca culture developed out of the earlier Paracas culture, and its beginning is marked by the introduction of slip-painted pottery. Textiles with elaborate decoration and images, including depictions of the ritual use of trophy heads, are found in both late Paracas and early Nasca cultures. The Nasca are also known for their geoglyphs or “Nasca Lines”, geometric forms and giant drawings of birds, animals and other natural forms etched in the desert of southern Peru. The designs of these forms were similar to those found on Nasca textiles and pottery.

  1. Gold Breastplate

    This is a circular gold laminate breastplate from the Peabody Museum.
  2. Gold Mask (100 BC-700 AD)

    This is a hammered gold alloy laminate mask found on the South Coast of Peru. It is believed to have been made sometime between 100 BC-700 AD and measures 18.4 cm by 21.8 cm. It can be found at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
    Links: Top 100 Masks,
  3. “El Fantasma de Nazca” Gold Serpent Mask

           This is a gold serpent mask known as “El fantasma de Nazca.”
    Links: Top 100 Masks,
  4. Gold Breastplate

           This is a circular gold laminate breastplate from the National Museum of Peru.
  5. Gold Headdress (100 BC-300 AD)

           This is a hammered and embossed gold laminate Headdress from sopmetime between 100 BC–300 AD. It was found on the South Coast of Peru and is believed to be from the Nazca culture. It measures 12 ¾ in. by 19 in. and can be seen at the Bowers Museum
    Links: Top Ten Headdresses,
  6. Pair of Gold Supernatural Birds (150-300 AD)

           This pair of supernatural birds, possibly Hummingbirds, are made out of hammered gold and is part of the Dumbarton Oaks Collection.
    Links: Top 100 Birds,
  7. Gold Spatula or Celt (100 BC-700 AD)

           This is a Gold Spatula, or possibly a gold celt, depicting a carved lizard. It measures 11.8 cm by 2.6 cm and resides in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
  8. Gold Tipped Spear Thrower (2nd-8th Century AD)

           This is a Nazca gold tipped spear thrower found on the South Coast of Peru.  It was constructed out of wood, metal, bone, thread and sinew. It measures 52.8 cm in length and currently resides at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
    Links: Weapons and Armor, Top Ten South American Weapons,
  9. Large Ceramic Figure (100-300 AD)

           This massive ceramic object of the early Nasca style depicts a modest human in a simple men’s skirt clutching a baton and a trophy head. He is being preyed upon by a larger, richly adorned personage who appears to be feasting via a long tongue through the victim’s neck. It stands 62.5 cm and resides in the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
  10. Gold Bird Motif Ornament or Tupu Needle

           This object is a bird motif ornament or Tupu needle and resides at the Museo Larco.
    Links: Top 100 Birds,
  11. Gold Figurine

  12. Double Spouted Jar (100-300 AD)

           Trophy heads were used in shamanistic and funerary rituals and are depicted on many Nasca ceramics. They were taken from enemy captives by the Nasca in local wars. The wars were probably fought between chiefdoms over rights to resources such as land and water. This vessel depicts an otherworldly being with a trophy head in its clutches. The jar stands 18 cm and can be viewed at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
  13. Double Spouted Jar Depicting Seabirds

           This double-spouted jar depicts seabirds catching fish. The creatures shown illustrate the Nasca culture’s dependence on coastal resources in one of the richest fisheries in the world. Nasca fishermen probably competed with seabirds for fish and local potters would have reflected that competition, or perhaps co-existence, in their art. The jar stands 16 cm in height and can be found at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
    Links: Top 100 Birds,
  14. Head Cloth (100-300 AD)

           Possible turban or head-cloth. Portions of the blue ground cloth have been repaired in modern times by sewing ancient blue cloth from another garment over deteriorated areas. The textile is clearly Nasca in form and technique, but it is a modern amalgum of several textiles. The fragments of cross-knit looped tabs do not match seamlessly, and the yarn fringes on the ends are not consistent with the age of the textile. The tab elements of the border fringe depict maize in some cases and beans in others. The cloth can be seen at its home in the Textile Museum of Canada.
  15. Gold Bird Ornaments (1st–2nd Century AD)

           These two gold bird ornaments date back to the 1st–2nd century. They measure 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm) and are part of the Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.
    Links: Top 100 Birds,
  16. Gold Laminate Head-Piece

           This is a gold laminate head-piece.
  17. Cross-Knit Looped Fragment of a Border (100-300 AD)

           Cross-knit looped fragment of a border. The human faces represent severed heads. The long black yarn does not indicate a beard, as Andean men lacked such substantial facial hair, but long hair. The heads are stitched to a band with geometric designs. Above the band is a series of paired tabs which represent beans, an Andean staple. This textile is a fragment of what may have been a fringe element sewn along the armhole or neck slit of a man’s tunic. Fragment Length: 33.5cm Textile Museum of Canada
  18. Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions,,,

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