Major site of the Pre-Columbian early Nazca culture in the Nazca Valley on the south coast of Peru. It was the capital of a brilliant civilization that flourished c.ad 1–c. 400. The site covers 150 ha and comprises some 40 artificial and semi-artificial mounds of various sizes, the largest of which measure some 20 m high and 140 m per side at the base. There are also walled and open plaza areas and Nazca and post-Nazca burial grounds.
William Strong’s fieldwork of 1952–3 determined that Cahuachi was first settled in the early 1st century ad, when the inhabitants lived in wattle and daub houses. Approximately a century later temple mounds began to be built. Cahuachi did not, however, grow into a great city: Helaine Silverman’s excavations of 1984–5 indicate that even at its height Cahuachi had only a small permanent population, perhaps consisting of the Nazca élite and their retainers, although frequent pilgrimage activity meant that the site could fill up with thousands of transient inhabitants....