The Incas: Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Inca Trail

Ceramics of Ancient Peru Mind Map

Pre-Inca ceramic mind map


Ceramics of Ancient Peru



by Christopher B. Donnan
Pub. Date: September 1993
Publisher: University of California Los Angeles, Fowler Museum of Cult

When Europeans first entered the Andean area in the early part of the sixteenth century, they encountered the Inca Empire, a vast and powerful political domain that incorporated the largest area in South America ever to have been brought under one ruler. The Europeans were extremely impressed with the political and economic organization of the Inca. as well as with their artistic and technological sophistication. The Spanish did not realize. however, that the Inca were only the most recent in a long series of civilizations that had inhabited the coastal and highland areas of western South America. It was not until the end of the nineteenth century that archaeologists began systematically to reconstruct the long and complex story of the remarkable civilizations that preceded the Inca.

We now realize that highly developed artistic. technological. and religious traditions were flourishing in Peru as early as 2000 B.C. Monumental religious architecture was already present. as were weaving, jewelry made of shell. bone, and stone. and elaborately pyroengraved gourds. Before 1800 B.C. ceramics were being produced. and by 1500 B.C. sophisticated ceramic styles had evolved in many areas. Over the next three millennia, through the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century. Peruvian ceramics underwent an extraordinary evolution. Although the potters employed relatively simple ceramic technology, their remarkable mastery of technique was skillfully utilized to create objects with aesthetically pleasing shapes. colors. and textures This, combined with a superb sense of design and scale, often produced ceramics of remarkable beauty.

About the Author: Christopher B. Donnan is a professor emeritus of anthropology at UCLA where he is also director of the Moche Archive at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.