The Nazca - History of the Nazca - Peru
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The Nazca

white lines on dark background - a monkey
Nazca lines - a giant monkey
drawn on the desert floor

June 2016 - After the Chavin state collapsed about 250 BC, two new states formed in Peru - the Moche in the north and the Nazca in the south. So by about 100 BC, the Nazca were between the Moche and the Mapuche to their south, in what is now Chile, and the Guarani people were on the other side of the Andes mountains to the east.

brightly colored cloth figures
Nazca embroidery

Like their ancestors and like their neighbors, the Nazca people did a lot of fishing along the coast using small reed boats, and they collected shellfish too. Like the Chavin and the Moche, they farmed potatoes, tomatoes, squash, beans, corn, peanuts. The Nazca grew cotton, and used nalbinding (a kind of early knitting) and embroidery to make complicated, expensive clothing. To bring water to their farms, the Nazca built a lot of irrigation canals and underground aqueducts.

By the 500s AD, the Nazca weren't doing so well. Possibly they had cut down a lot of trees to make room for their cotton and corn farming and that caused erosion. Terrible floods wiped out a lot of their irrigation system. About 750 AD, the Nazca culture collapsed into a bunch of smaller states. By 1400 AD, the Inca built an empire that unified Peru.

Learn by doing:
More about the Moche

Bibliography and further reading about the Nazca:

South America after 1500 AD home

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 29 March, 2017