Cultures & Traditions

Nasca (Nazca)

The regional society called Nasca (Nazca) flourished in the Nasca and Ica River valleys on the south coast of Peru from about 200 BCE until 700 CE. The Nasca were eventually superseded by the Wari (Huari) and then the Inka (Inca). "Nazca" and "Nasca" are commonly used interchangeably, but generally Nasca is used to refer to the period and culture that inhabited this area, while Nazca is used to describe the region, town, and river.

The more than seventy ancient geoglyphs created by the Nasca, which extend over almost 190 square miles (500 square km) are commonly referred to as the Nasca Lines. Geometric and zoic figures were constructed by altering the surface arrangement of gravel on the level expanses of the coastal desert plain. So large that they are best seen from above, the geoglyphs depict gigantic plants, animals, and humans, although their purpose remains unknown.

Adapted from

  • Carol Robbins, “Vessel depicting a wounded warrior (1971.58),” in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Suzanne Kotz_ _(Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 171.

  • Getty Vocabulary, AAT (Nazca (Nasca): AAT: 300017290)

  • Getty Vocabulary, AAT (Nazca lines (geoglyphs): AAT: 300265415)

  • Getty Vocabulary, AAT (Nazca: TGN: 7033105)

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