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The Groundbreaking Nazca Exhibit at one of Lima’s Top Museums

August 7, 2017

Known for their vast geoglyphs in the desert, the Nazca people also left behind sophisticated pottery and textiles, and created a complex system of puquios to access subsurface water.
The exhibit runs at the Art Museum of Lima through September before travelling to Switzerland and Germany.



After Machu Picchu, Peru’s next most famous archeological treasure is probably the Nazca lines, vast geoglyphs of various religious symbols including monkeys, birds, llamas and felines up to nearly a quarter-of-a-mile in length and carved into a stretch of arid desert along Peru’s southern coast. Yet the Nazca (sometimes also spelled Nazca) people left many other fascinating traces of their culture, including elaborate textiles and multi-colored ceramics, as well as human remains that reveal their fascination with both decapitation and trepanation.


Now, there is a rare chance to learn more about the Nazca thanks to a groundbreaking exhibition curated collaboratively by the Art Museum of Lima (MALI by its Spanish initials) and Switzerland’s Reitberg Museum. Gathering together more than 300 artefacts, including pottery, weaving and metallurgy, and new interactive resources including video, music and 3D simulations, the exhibition can be seen at the MALI until October 1, when it then moves to the Reitberg Museum and subsequently Bonn’s Bundeskunsthalle.


The Nazca flourished between roughly 100BC and 900AD in two river valleys along Peru’s arid southern coast, the Rio Grande de Nazca and the Ica. An agricultural society led by a network of local chieftains, the Nazca cultivated yams, squash, corn, sweet potato and yucca, among other food crops. They also fished and appear to have traded with Andean peoples. From archeological remains, we known they used hallucinogens, most likely the San Pedro cactus, for ritual purposes and practiced both cranial surgeries, known as trepanation, and the taking of trophy heads, often drilling a hole in the forehead presumably to better display them.

Their culture is thought to have ended thanks to catastrophic flooding likely caused by an unusually strong El Niño, or series of El Niños, compounded by the Nazca’s own logging of local trees, which experts say would have made their population centers more vulnerable to the freak weather.


To visit the Nazca exhibit at the MALI during your stay with Atemporal visit or contact or on +51 1 700 5106 or, if you are in the US, 347 713 7030/34.

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