Picture of Possible clay source near Cahuachi
Proyecto Nasca Temprano - Raw Material Survey
Picture of Possible clay source near Cahuachi
The first step in the clay survey was finding
sources of clay. Here Roberto Quispe is
pointing at a clay in a cut in riverbank of the
Rio Tambo Quemado.
Picture of Enrique Narcisso, Roberto Quispe, and Aldo Noriega
Taking a break at the base of Cerro Blanco. From left to
right is Enrique Narcisso, Roberto Quispe and Aldo Noriega.
Picture of Enrique Narcisso, Roberto Quispe, and Aldo Noriega
Processing clays involved either sifting through fine mesh
(me on the left), or grinding with a mortar and pestle (Jelmer
Eerkens on the right)...
Picture of Moises Linares
...and then forming clay discs to be fired by Alberto Seguro,
a local Nasca potter. Moises Linares is pictured in the lab.
Picture of Clay Discs
Small sample of the clay discs after firing. These were
submitted to MURR for INAA. Analysis is still pending.
Picture of natural pigments as shown by Tobi, a local potter
Here are natural pigments as
shown by Tobi, a local
potter. Eventually we hope to
trace the sources of
minerals used for pigments
in Nasca pottery.
References (for more, see my current vita where you can find links to abstracts of most of
these published papers):

Vaughn, Kevin J.
2004 Households, Crafts, and Feasting in the Ancient Andes: The Village Context of
Early Nasca Craft Consumption. Latin American Antiquity 15(1):61-88.

Vaughn, Kevin J., and Moises Linares Grados
2002 Informe Final: Investigaciones Arqueológicos Valles Aja Y Tierras Blancas, Nasca
Peru, 2002. Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Lima, Peru.

Vaughn, Kevin J. and Hector Neff
2000 Moving Beyond Iconography: Neutron Activation Analysis of a Ceramic Sample
from Marcaya, an Early Nasca Domestic Site. Journal of Field Archaeology 27(1):75-90.

2004 Tracing the Clay Source of Nasca Polychrome Pottery: Results from a Preliminary
Raw Material Survey. Journal of Archaeological Science 31(11):1577-1586.
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Website of Kevin J. Vaughn, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Website of Kevin J. Vaughn, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
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Possible clay source near Cahuachi. Taking the sample is Aldo Noriega Gutierrez.
Because previous and ongoing re-
search (Vaughn and Neff 2000;
Vaughn et al. 2005) has de-
monstrated that (1) Nasca
polychrome pottery was compo-
sitionally homogeneous indicating
a restricted resource zone, and (2)
that there is variability in the
chemical composition of clays
available in the Nasca region, the first
objective of the Proyecto Nasca
Temprano is to determine what raw
material resources necessary for the
production of pottery(including clays
and minerals suitable for pigments)
were available to the ancient Nasca
potter. Towards that end, along with
my co-director Moises David Linares
Grados and a crew of archaeologists
from the Universidad de San Marcos
in Lima, Peru we conducted a partial
survey of the Aja and Tierras
Blancas River Valleys and their tributaries for clay
sources. Additional seasons of the
project will focus on the Taruga
and Las Trancas River Valleys,
and working with local potters and
miners who currently use these
resources in their crafts.

In the summer of 2002, we collected
over 50 raw material samples, of
which 29 were clays suitable for
pottery making.
After collecting the clays, they were processed in the lab by sifting them through screens, and occasionally grinding them with a mortar and pestle. Following this, they were worked while wet and formed into clay discs. The clay discs
were fired for us by a local Nasca
potter, Alberto Seguro, who makes
replicas of Nasca pottery, and the clay
discs were submitted to
the University of Missouri Research
Reactor(MURR) for instrumental
neutron activation analysis. In
collaboration with Hector Neff,
professor of anthropology at
California State University,
Long Beach, these data have been
analyzed and the results suggested
a close match between polychrome
pottery and a clay source near the
ceremonial center Cahuachi (see
Vaughn and Linares 2002;
Vaughn and Neff 2004).

We have been continuing our survey
of the Southern Nasca Region, and
will also make an effort to collect
minerals suitable for making the
pigments that were used to paint
colorful Nasca pottery. Below are
some photos of the survey,labwork
and archaeologists involved in
the project.
Crew for the Project Nasco Temprano (2002)
Map of the Nasca region with approximate boundaries of raw material survey and
sites mentioned.
Cup bowl found in previous excavations at Marcaya
Cup bowl found in previous excavations at Marcaya. It is a
good example of the high quality of Nasca pottery. Note the
seven distinct colors.
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