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From Paracas to Nasca? Diversity and Genesis on the South Coast of Ancient Peru

December 13, 2017
05:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Humanities Center Conference Room D

Stefanie Bautista
Stanford University

The transition from the Paracas culture to the Nasca culture is marked by an arbitrary point in a ceramic sequence that corresponds neither to a radical change in the social or political organization of the peoples of the south coast nor to an invasion of new peoples or ideas, but rather to a technological innovation: the use of slip painting on ceramics. “In all other respects, Nasca is simply the continuation of the earlier Paracas culture.” (Proulx 2006: 30) This talk will compare and contrast the “other respects” or cultural practices (e.g. architecture, settlement patterns, rituals) between the Paracas (800-100 B.C.E.) and Nasca (1-700 C.E.) archaeological cultures of the Peruvian south coast. I will demonstrate how in many respects Paracas was actually an incredibly diverse archaeological culture with varied architectural traditions and settlement patterns and, beyond some pottery styles, shared very little in common. I argue that the archaeological culture called Nasca is the materialization of the newly unified sense of community shared by these disparate Paracas polities created through the production and consumption of pottery and textiles.


Stefanie L. Bautista is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Rochester’s interdisciplinary program in Archaeology, Technology, and Historical Structures, and an Anthropology PhD candidate at Stanford University. Stefanie’s research focuses on prehistoric homes, and the daily practices that occurred within them, as a way to study the impact that broader, socio-political changes had on local populations. Her dissertation research uses a household perspective to study the transition between two archaeological cultures – the Paracas (800-100 B.C.E.) and Nasca (1-700 C.E.) – that occurred in the Rio Grande de Nasca Region, Peru. In addition, Stefanie is also currently co-directing another archaeological project that investigates the role of the Wari (600-1000 C.E.) state in the Siguas Valley, Arequipa, Peru.

 Presented by the Archaeology, Technology, and Historical Structures Program. 

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