History & Chronology

Carbon-14 dating performed on remains of the Long Head people of Paracas has determined that small and then larger groups of early Peruvians lived in the Region of Ica as far back as 2500 years ago. The people of Paracas and Nasca were thoroughly studied by archaeologists Frederic Engel and Julio Cesar Tello; the museum founded by the Tello exhibits artifacts from their l0 years of research. Additionalartifacts can be also observed at the Antonini lv1useum located in Ica City.

The Paracas and Nasca cultures were born in a dry region where the sources of water and fecund land were limited to a few valleys. Fortunately, these valleys were extremely fertile,and these early Peruvians developed systems to irrigate their land.These irrigations systems are still used today by localfarmers. The people of Paracas and Nasca also developed advanced techniques intextiles, ceramics, and trephination (perforation of the skull) . The Nasca culture is the most popular civilization known in this region due to their famous Nasca Lines (immense geoglyphs designed in the ground into various shapes, among them severalof animals) . The reason for these people's disappearance is unknown,but it is believed that it is linked to a drought which lasted at least 30 years in the 500s AD.

Ittook about 700 years to see another culture developing inthis area. This was the Chincha culture,which ruled from 1200 AD to the mid-l400s when the Incas conquered this region. Once the Spaniards colonized Peru, Ica became important agriculturally,producing many crops as well as wine. These activities are still practiced today. Below is a chronology of Ica:

Paracas Culture


Main Location in Ica: The Valley of Ica(near Ocucaje) and the Paracas Bay. It covered all the actual Region of Icaand the north of Arequipa (Acari Valley).

Beginning of Presence in the Area: It is believed that the Paracas culture was influencedby the Chavinculture andthat these influences were mixed with the Topara culture, giving birth to the first complex society in the southern area of Peru.

Main Survival Activities: Incipient agriculture techniques were used to produce cotton, limo beans, sweet potatoes, and corn,among others. They also practiced fishing,  textiles, and ceramics.

Political Organization: Paracas was ruled by a groupof priests basedontheirreligious beliefs. The people of Paracas practiced the deformation of their heads (long heads) as a sign of hierarchy status.

Decay of Paracas: It is believed that the Paracas culture gave way to the Nasca culture; therefore, there wasn't an extinction but a transformation.


  • The people of Paracas practiced the deformation of the skull as a sign or hierarchy. They are knownas the Long Head people of Paracas.
  • The Paracas people practiced thephinations (perforation of the skull) in living people with a very high percentage of success. It is believed that they practiced this procedure for medical reasons (to alleviate head injuries) as well as magical-religious ones (toallow mentalillnesses to leave the body) .
  • Their textiles have intrigued archaeologists and specialists due to the great quality of their mantles. lv1ade out of llama,alpaca,or vicuf\a wool and having multiple colors and tones made of vegetaland animalink, these mantles display representations of animals and/or anthropomorphic figures. lv1antles were also used in burials. There are many of them in exhibitions in remarkably good condition.
  • Although architecture wasn't a strength of the Paracas culture,there are remains of temples in the Paracas Bay.

Nasca Culture


Main Location in Ica: The Valley of Rio Grande (Big River) in Nasca and the Ica Valley. The Nasca culture ruled from Chincha in the north to the Acari Valley in Arequipa in the south.

Beginning of Presence in the Area: It is believed that the Nasca culture is a continuation of the Paracas but with a social and political change where the power moved from the Paracas Bay to Cahuachi in Nasca. This new culture was based on a militarized theocratic society with a religious leadership.

Main Survival Activities: In an arid and extreme region, the Nasca people built effective subterraneanwater aqueducts, which made agriculture the mainactivity of the Nascas. Artisans, fishermen, and merchants were in the minority.

Political Organization: The Nasca was ruled by a militarized group of individuals and priests (Curacas) who played an important role in the society.

Decay of Nasca: It is believed that a drought of more than 30 years diminished the population and forced the rest to move insearch of better living conditions.


  • The people of Nasca built their main religious temple in Cahuachi, Nasca. Cahuachi was a pyramidal temple made out of adobe. A small city was built close to the temple.
  • The Nasca people built subterranean water aqueducts to irrigate their fertile land.These aqueducts are still in use and locals keepthem cleanand in working condition to irrigate their crops.
  • The Nasca people used the Jumana, SanJose,and HuayuriPampas to draw dozens of geoglyphs representing animals, anthropomorphic forms, and geometrical shapes. These Lines can go anywhere from 30 meters to 9 kilometers long. The main theories state that these Lines were made with astronomicalor religious purposes. The Nasca Lines were added to the World Heritage List of the UNESCO in 1994.
  • The Nasca people were warriors and practiced the scare tactic of displaying the heads of their enemies. Several war-related artifacts were found in the Cahuachi temple. These canbeobserved inthe mainmuseums of Nasca and Ica.
  • The Nascas improved the ceramic techniques implemented by the Paracas people. However, their textiles were not as impressive as those of the Paracas.

Inca Culture


Main Location in Ica: The Inca Empire built important structures and temples in the region. One of the most important buildings in the area is Tambo Colorado, located near Pisco and Paracas cities.

Beginning of Presence in the Area: By 1440, Inca Pachacutec arrived inthe Region of Ica; however, the northern area of the region continued to be ruled by the Chincha people,so the Incas didn't fully control this area. It wasn't until 1496 that the Chinchas accepted the new ruler and the Chincha king relinquished his power in the region.

Main Survival Activities: The Incas used the regions of Icato produce crops all year long andsend them to Cusco, the capital, as well as other areas of the empire. The construction of roads and buildings occupied a minority of the people.

Political Organization: The Incas had a regional governor (known as "Apunchik") who ruled in Ica.

Decay of theIncas in Ica: The arrivalof the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro markedthe end of the Inca Empire. Nicolas de Rivera conquered the Inca governor and founded la Villa de Sangallan.


  • The Incas were magnificent builders. They built impressive temples, fortresses, and cities made out of perfectly shaped stones placed one on  top  of  the  other. The  citadel  of Machu Picchu (discovered in 191 l by Hiram Bingham) is the best example of their work. In 1983,Machu Picchuwas addedto the WorldHeritage List of the UNESCO.
  • Tambo Colorado is one of  the most important edifices built by the Incas. It was an administrative center where the Inca and important members of the government stayed for long periods of time or just for the night. This site is part of the Qhapac Nan (network of roads built in one of the world's most extreme terrains, the Andes) . In2014,the Qhapaq Nanwas addedto the WorldHeritage List of the UNESCO.

Colonial Ica


Main Location in Ica: The Corregimiento de Ica(township) was first established by Nicolas de Rivera in the Valley Valverde of Ica. Later it was moved to the current location.

Beginning of Presence inthe Area: Nicolas de Rivera was the first one to explore the area and conquer the region for the kingdom of Spain. He was one of the thirteen who arrived in Peru with Pizarro and conquered the Inca Empire.

Main Survival Activities: The Region of Icawas chosen by the Spaniards to produce wine for the viceroyalty of Peru. Inthis area several haciendas were built for the purpose of producing crops; therefore, agriculture was the main survival activity in the area.

Political Organization: The viceroyalty of Peru created in Ica a township whichwas ruled by a Corregidor, who represented the viceroy of Peru and king of Spaininthe area. The Corregidor collected taxes and administered justice in the region.

Decay of the Viceroyalty: Peru's freedom was declared in the main square of Lima. General San Martin appointed the Paracas Bayto be thecenter of operations before heading to Lima to declare Peru's independence from Spain.


  • Ica is a multicultural region. Once the Spaniards arrived in the area,people from many places from around the world arrived as well. The first ones to arrivewere slaves from Africaandlater on citizens of many European countries. The Afro-Peruvian community is big inChincha,and their dances and customs have been maintained to the present.
  • Severalwineries were founded in the area during colonial times. Grapes were introduced in Ica soon after the Spaniards arrived. The oldest vineyard in Peru, the Tacoma Winery was founded in l540 by Francisco de Carabantes. It can be visited nowadays.
  • During the first years of the colony,the Spaniards and Criollos started the production of a new alcoholic beverage. This drink, obtained from grapes, is known as Pisco.
  • Because Ica is located in the geological Nasca Plate, several earthquakes have shaken the region; therefore, there aren't many original colonial buildings  still standing.

First 100 years


Capital: The capitalof the Region of Icais the city of Ica.

Roleof Ica duringthe First 100 Years: During the first years of the Republic, Icawas considered part of the Region of Lima. It was in 1855 that President Ramon Castilla created the Province of  Ica.

Lima's Economy: Ica's agricultural improvements were the driving force of the economy. Ica served as a provider of crops to the city of Lima. Even thoughthe Chinchas, Ballestas and SanGallon Islands became important to the Peruvian economy inthe 1840s because of their bird droppings (guano), Ica really didn't benefit from this. The War of the Pacific ( 1879-1880) seriously damaged the economy of the country and Icawas severely affected by it.

Ica's Culture: Ica has preserved customs from the Spaniards (mainly religious beliefs and practices) . The Spanish practices, which syncretized with the beliefs of the native Peruvians and Africanslaves, gave birth to new practices and beliefs. The Province of Chincha is a great demonstration of this culture.

Ica's Art: The art of Ica is one of ancient practices and a long tradition in textiles and ceramics, which started with the Topara and Paracas cultures.


  • In the beginning of the Republic, Ica was under the control of Lima. It was in 1855 that Ica became a province and then in 1866 a department or region.
  • Ica maintained its role of an agricultural region. Agriculture and commerce were the main economic activities.
  • In 1866,the Spaniards declaredwaron Peru inorder to regaintheir lost colony. The Chincha Islands, rich in guano, were taken by the Spaniards for a prolonged period of time.
  • In 1880, the Chilean navy and army disembarked in the port of Pisco and from there advanced to Lima to win the War of the Pacific.

The Present


Capital: Thecapitalof theregion is the city of Lima.

Role of Ica in the last 95 years: The Region of Ica has maintainedits role inagriculture and wine production. Nowadays, Ica's is the sixth largest economy of the country (out of 24) .

Ica's Economy: Having one of the strongest economies in the country, Ica has lower levels of poverty and extreme poverty. However, the 2007 earthquake considerably damaged homes and important  buildings.

Ica's Culture: Ica has maintained its beliefs and customs. Spanish customs can be observed in the main cities while Afro­ Peruvian and Nasca customs can be observed in Chincha and Nasca respectively. The first university in this region was founded in 1955.

Ica's Art: Ica's artisans have developed great textile and ceramic skills. Some of these techniques have been used for hundreds of years.


  • During the last 94 years, Ica has been known as one of the most important agricultural regions of the country. Its fertile land produces high-quality crops. The cotton of Ica is known worldwide because of its great quality.
  • A visit to Chincha offers customs not seen anywhere else. The Afro-Peruvian community maintains the customs of their ancestors mixed with the customs of the native Peruvians and Spaniards.
  • In the early 1900s the Huachachina Oasis became popularinIca andLima, leading to the construction of several Republican buildings around  the Oasis. One of these buildings is the Hotel lv1ossone,with its beautiful view of the Oasis and the Sand Dunes.
  • During the last 20 years, Ica has become a popular stop for Peruvians and foreign travelers. Ica offers adventure, nature, history, and a beautiful bay for relaxing in Paracas.
  • The best Peruvian vineyards can be found in this region. There are several vineyards offeringtours andexcursions to enjoy the localwine and pisco.


Loremp Impsiom

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