Nazca ceramics

I am revising my plan for ARCHAEO-Crush posts… Clearly, my busy schedule cannot accommodate one post per month, so I am trying one per season. (Let’s see how that goes.)  My ARCHAEO-Crush for winter 2019 is from a civilisation better known for its geoglyphs…


Type: artefact (ceramics)
Civilisation: Peruvian, Nazca (also spelled Nasca)
Date: 200 BCE and 600 CE

ARCHAEO-Crush: This is really an archaeological crush because I don’t really know anything about the Nazca culture of ancient Peru. When I became curator of ancient art, I suddenly found myself in charge of archaeological collections from the Ancient Americas, artefacts from cultures I had never studied at uni or others I knew about from a television show I absolutely loved as a kid. I have since been paying more attention to these amazing civilisations and their material culture. I knew of the Nazca geoglyphs (aka the ‘Nazca Lines‘), but had never seen other materials produced by the Nazca people until recently (not every museum has a collection of ancient  American art and amongst those not all include Nazca art).

I immediately fell in love with Nazca ceramics the second I laid eyes on them. They are the most colourful vessels I have ever seen (in earth tones, no less!) and decorated with incredibly adorable (and occasionally unexpected) figures and designs. The selection above are from the Milwaukee Public Museum (an unexpectedly stunning museum by the way!), the Field Museum in Chicago and the San Antonio Museum of Art. Seriously cute, don’t you think?

Bucket list status:  One day I’ll get to Peru and will see the Nazca Lines (and other things); in the meantime I will enjoy the ceramics in museum collections.

Additional information: This is a nice little article in the Ancient  History Encyclopedia about of the Nazca civilisation.

Machu Picchu

My July ARCHAEO-Crush is a spectacular Inca site with which you are all familiar… but did you know that it was “discovered” on July 24, 1911 by Hiram Bingham III from Yale University.  The discovery is somewhat controversial because the local populations already knew of Machu Picchu, but it is Bingham who made this extraordinary site known to the rest of the world.

The superb Inca site perched in the mountains of Peru: Machu Picchu (photo courtesy of my Dad)

The superb Inca site perched in the mountains of Peru: Machu Picchu (photo courtesy of my Dad)

Type: site (historic statuary)
Civilisation: Inca (Peru)
Date: 15th century, circa 1450.
ARCHAEO-Crush: Machu Picchu is an breathtaking feat of civil engineering: the site is perched on rocky mountain cliffs at more than 2,400m of altitude. Religious centre, residential sector, citadel, agricultural zones… this rigorously planned space incorporates approximately 200 stone constructions in upper and lower towns. This massive stone architecture, assembled without mortar, is harmoniously integrated with its spectacular surroundings. After this tremendous effort, it seems rather incredible that the site was abandoned 100 years or so after its construction… but the Spaniards had disembarked and started colonizing.  Fortunately, they never did find out about the city on the old mountain…
Bucket list status: Oh! This is soooooo at the top of my list! I’m rather jealous that my parents got to visit Machu Picchu…
Additional information: Not surprisingly, Machu Picchu is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  You can read about it, it’s number 274.