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The Nasca and the Valley of Acari: cultural interaction on the Peruvian south coast during the first four centuries A.D.

Faculty Advisor




ceramics, Nasca, Acari, Peru

Abstract (summary)

On the basis of the initial studies carried out by D. Menzel and F. A. Riddell in 1954 in the Acari Valley, Peru, and from further visits, J. H. Rowe argued that the Nasca 3 pottery found in Acari "likely" represented a "Nasca invasion." Rowe's hypothesis was never tested, but frequently was cited as evidence of the Nasca invasion/occupation of Acari. This dissertation is aimed at evaluating the above assumption. Since Rowe's model was developed on the basis of pottery found in Acari, the pottery associated with the so-called "Nasca" walled sites of Acari is evaluated. According to this study, early Nasca is not the pottery style common to the Acari sites. Instead, there is an overwhelming presence of a type of pottery which is markedly different from the Nasca style. This style appears to be local and is referred to in this study as Huarato pottery. The presence of settlements distintive from Nasca in Acari strongly suggests that during the first four centuries A.D. the Acari Valley was inhabited by a local cultural tradition. It was into the context of this local culture that a few Nasca ceramics were first introduced, during Nasca phase 2. During Nasca phase 3 the number of Nasca items introduced to Acari increased, but began to decline during Nasca phase 4. Nasca 5 pottery has not been reported from Acari. In addition to securing some Nasca goods, the local inhabitants of Acari imitated early Nasca motifs. While early Nasca art was so rich in themes, only specific ones were emulated in Acari, however. It is of interest to point out that the introduction of the few Nasca goods to Acari took place when the early Nasca ceremonial center of Cahuachi was at its climax. It is possible, then, that the introduced items were brought to Acari by local residents who had made pilgrimage visits to this center. Considering the ideological significance of Cahuachi, it can be argued that the Nasca goods found in Acari perhaps symbolized the prestige of this center and as such likely were owned by specific individuals. If so, these foreign goods must have been regarded as "status insignia." In this regard, on the basis of current information, Rowe's hypothesis cannot be validated.

Publication Information

Valdez, Lidio M. 1998. The Nasca and the Valley of Acari: Cultural Interaction on the Peruvian South Coast during the first four centuries A.D. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.



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