The Museum of Art and Archaeology is privileged to hold ceramics from many pre-Columbian civilizations. In this online exhibition we present selections from the collection illustrating the ceramic artistry of two of the best-known cultures of the arid Peruvian coast, Moche and Nazca, both dating to the Early Intermediate Period. The Early Intermediate period (roughly 200BCE- 600CE) includes the Moche, Nazca, Recuay, Vicus, and Salinar cultures, among others. It’s preceded by the Formative Period (1800BCE-200BCE) which includes the Cupisnique, Chavín, Paracas, Casma–Sechin and related cultures, and succeeded by the Middle Horizon (600-1000CE) including the Huari, Piura and Tiwanaku cultures, and the Late Intermediate Period (1000-1476CE) including the Chancay, Chincha, Aymara kingdoms, Chimú, and rise of the Inka. Because these are regional cultural periods, they do not exactly correspond to the periods of individual cultures. Both Moche and Nazca communities were agriculturalists dependent on irrigation—albeit of very different kinds—to feed growing societies. Both also produced remarkable metalwork, and extremely complex and beautifully woven textiles, often found preserved in the arid environment.

Moche and Nazca Pottery