Nasca, Ceremonial Drum, ca. 100. Earthenware. The Fred Olsen Collection. 1967-29-110


Take a look at this artwork or read about it in our collection highlight.

What do you see? How do you think it was used?

This object is from the Nasca culture, which flourished on the southern coast of Peru from about 100 BCE to 800 CE.

They are known for their boldly decorated ceramics, often showing animals and mythological creatures.


Playing the Drum

This object is a drum. How do you think it was played?

It is believed that the large opening would have been covered with a stretched animal skin creating the surface on which to drum.

We aren't certain exactly how the drum was held. Some experts believe that the drummer would sit with the drum across one knee. One hand would hold the drum in place while the other hand would beat the drum.


Do You See the Birds?

Why do you think the artist painted birds on the drum?

The birds on the drum are called vencejos or white-collared swifts.

These birds are special because they arrive at the beginning of the rainy season, signaling to farmers that it is time to plant crops.


Your Turn: Do an Archaeology Puzzle

This work of art was broken into many pieces when archaeologists first found it. Without knowing what it looked like, they had to put the pieces back together, like a puzzle.

Only after they put all the pieces together could they see the whole thing and try to figure out what it was.


Now, it is your turn to be an archaeologist and help us put a work of art back together. The artworks that you will be putting together are from the same region and time period as the drum. 

Enter the KAM Archaeology Lab. Help us restore these objects by finishing each puzzle!


KAM would like to thank Sylvia Yang and Nancy Qu for creating this website in their Curriculum and Instruction class through the College of Education (CI: Advanced Educational Technologies for Engagement and Interactive Learning) in Fall 2019.