[nahs-kah, -kuh]
Nazca or Nasca, ancient culture of the Nazca, Pisco, and Ica river valleys on the desert coast of S Peru. Flourishing during the first millennium A.D., the Nazca culture seems to have developed out of the Paracas culture, and after 900 it was apparently under Tiahuanaco influence until the Inca conquered the region in the 15th cent. The Nazca excelled in the production of beautiful ceramics and textiles. Highly polished, expertly designed, and with polychrome painting, Nazca pottery is unlike that of other Peruvian cultures. Textiles show a multitude of weaving techniques and extraordinary skill in dyeing with several shades of the same color; both coastal cotton and highland alpaca wool were used. Aerial exploration of the arid tableland surrounding the Palpa valley has revealed a remarkable network of lines and trapezoids interspersed with giant animal figures of unmistakable Nazca origin; the animals were probably built to be seen by sky gods, and the lines are believed to be related to observations in astronomy.

See J. A. Mason, The Ancient Civilizations of Peru (1957, rev. ed. 1964); G. H. S. Bushnell, Peru (1956, rev. ed. 1963); E. P. Lanning, Peru before the Incas (1967); E. Hadingham, Lines to the Mountain Gods: Nazca and the Mysteries of Peru (1988).

For the archaeological site, see Nazca Lines. For the culture it belonged to, see Nazca culture.
For other uses of Nazca, see Nazca (disambiguation).

Nazca (sometimes spelled Nasca) is the name of a system of valleys on the southern coast of Peru, and the name of the region's largest existing town. It is also the name applied to the Nazca culture that flourished in the area between 300 BC and AD 800. They were responsible for the Nazca Lines and the ceremonial city of Cahuachi; they also constructed an impressive system of underground aqueducts that still function today.

The town of Nazca has recently been dumping its trash on the pampa, destroying some of the Nazca lines in the process. Under President Alberto Ken'ya Fujimori's rule, Nazca received money to turn the irrigation canals into tourist attractions. President Alejandro Toledo, whose partner is an anthropologist, stopped the aid.

Since 1997, Nazca has been the location of a major Canadian gold mining operation. The people who were living on the land for the previous 2000 years did not have title to the land so they were displaced without legal problems. Since then there have been some attempts to legalize poor citizens' ownership of their land and their fixed property, in response to Hernando de Soto's research on the poor.

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