Peru Archeology

By | December 21, 2021

Southern Valleys. – Nasca ceramics have for essential characteristics a strong sense of color and a marked conventionalism in the subjects of the decoration. Resistant colors: red, yellow, black, white and brown, with a tendency to dark tones; a solid varnish still keeps them fresh and shiny today. The subjects painted are sometimes flowers, birds and fish, human torsos and faces or strands of skull-trophy, but much more often an imaginary, strangely complex figure, resulting from the aggregation of theriomorphic segments and appendages to a central human face, d monstrous appearance, with the tongue hanging down and often the four exaggeratedly long and threatening canines, which is commonly defined as a mythical “millipede”, but in which the derivation from the feline-gorgonic figure that forms the base of almost the whole iconography of Peru, and is linked to the iconography of Mexico, Indonesia, and also of South Asia and the Mediterranean. Often this monster wields a scepter or two and trophy heads; it appears not only in the decoration of the terracotta, but also, and abundantly, in the fabric, taking on more or less humanized forms. The stylization of the Protonasque vases tends towards a geometric design, but not as intensely as in the chronologically later art of Ica (v.ica). The succession of styles in the southern valleys is as follows: Nasca, Epigonus of Tiahuanaco Ica and art of Cuzco, or Inca. For Peru 2002, please check

Valleys in the center. – The civilization of the primitive fishermen of the Coast is superimposed, without intermediate degrees, the art called by the protolima Uhle, of which the cemetery of Nieveria and the burials of the valleys of Lima and Chillon are exponents, with a ceramic of large jars and vases with a rather geometric decoration, showing dependence on the Nasca “millipede”. The Epigonous style of Tiahuanaco also extends over the central region, and later, from Chicama to Lurin, a ceramic model with red-white-black decoration reigns, showing traces of kinship with the white clay figulina of Recuay, with a elegant and almost linear schematization, inspired by the drawing of a dragon.

Northern Valleys. – Here we find the first Chimu civilization, with large truncated pyramid constructions, which supported temples and buildings, and a great wealth of fabrics and vases. The protochimú ceramic style is distinguished from the protonasca for a much poorer sense of color, but, on the other hand, for a much safer and more naturalistic design and decoration. The vases are decorated in the belly with true cartoons with a linear outline and with solid-colored areas, which represent scenes of daily life, such as hunting, fishing, fights and games, which are precious in order to reconstruct costumes, tools and weapons.. The shapes of the vases are mostly globular, and the design is drawn in sepia on the cream background of the clay; two lateral handles arranged in the manner of a stirrup join at the top to the mouth, which is also tubular. The portrait vases are very well known, true masterpieces that faithfully reproduce, in addition to facial features, even scars, pathological mutilations, head deformation, smile and various expressions of the soul. A third group of terracotta (vasicapanna) portray the curious shapes of the house in miniature. There is no shortage of vases with a Gorgonic figure, often in relief and surrounded by corn cobs. This protochimú cycle is followed by the second Chimú period, in which the palaces of Chanchán with stucco-decorated walls flourish; the pottery of this period is in shiny black bucchero, and in it the “vignette” is replaced by the relief; they are vases of very variable shape, decorated with bas-relief friezes or more often with superimposed sculptures, in the round, representing scenes of daily life,

Sierra. – The two main stations of the art of the Sierra are Tiahuanaco and Chavín. The first, south of Lake Titicaca, is famous for the remains of petree buildings with sculptures of a peculiar style, referable to two successive eras: Tiahuanaco I (minor enclosure) and II or classic (the monoliths, the so-called “Porta del Sole “) whose influence flows back to the Coast to form the Epigonous style of Uhle; it also has a ceramic which, in terms of design and color, is strictly connected with the protonasca, with the specific difference that, while this tends to outline curvilinear contours, in Tiahuanaco the straight line and angles dominate. Chavín also presents notable specimens of ornamental stone carving (the famous Raimondi monolith and the stele of the underground temple), whose subject is always the feline-gorgonic monster mentioned above, but rendered with a considerably more wild and feral expression than in Tiahuanaco, where the figure appears humanized. With good reason, Uhle, fighting the ideas of Tello, supports Chavín’s chronological anteriority on Tiahuanaco, and places both of them in stylistic dependence on the protonasque. It is evident that, starting with CR Markham, writers have paid an exaggerated tribute to the concept of “megalithic art”, making the double mistake of calling the remains of the plateau megalithic in the strict sense that the archeology of the ancient world uses, and to forget that the megalithic constructions of Eurasia are far from having an ancestral antiquity, being dated to the Bronze Age or its primordiums.

Quechúa or Cuzco pottery, usually of red terracotta, has its most characteristic model in an apodus vase, with a conical bottom, of very variable dimensions, sometimes quite large, which the first classifiers baptized with the name of “ariballo”, for their imperfect knowledge of classical ceramics, and which today continues to be called with such an improper name. The decoration is rather sober and geometric, arranged in vertical registers; this model is found in all the regions that suffered the Inca influence, from Ecuador to Chile and Argentina, and is scarce only along the coast, where even during the heyday of the men of Cuzco the flourishing regional arts persisted (Chimú II, Central Valleys and Ica) supported by the political constitutions incorporated by the more recent Incas.

Peru Archeology