Italian Archaeological Mission (MAI)

He carries out various archaeological scientific research works, with multidisciplinary projects for more than 46 years in various places in Latin America. It is under the direction of Dr. Giuseppe Orefici, as head of mission.

Thanks to the intervention of the Mission, it was possible to excavate, restore, and value various archaeological sites, such as Cahuachi, Paredones, among others.

Nasca Project

It is one of the scientific projects of the MAI and one of the oldest archaeological projects in the country. Work began in 1982 and continues to the present, having already been 41 years of scientific activities in the Nasca area.

Thanks to the Project, and within the framework of scientific excavations, it was possible to recover a large amount of archaeological material and exhibit it in the Antonini Museum. Likewise, various archaeological sites were valued, including an important sector of the Ceremonial Center of Cahuachi, Pueblo Viejo, Estaquería and Paredones. Cahuachi being the site where the Nasca Project concentrated all its scientific work, putting it in value and opening it to receive public visits.

In 2002, a final recovery program for Cahuachi began, with specific restoration and conservation interventions, parallel to the archaeological excavations. The objective was to carry out a macro archaeological excavation project and its parallel opening for tourism purposes.

Archaeological excavations in Cahuachi are carried out in large areas, with groups of specialized personnel. It is the only system to obtain useful data to reconstruct the dynamics of a culture such as Nasca, considering the dimension of Cahuachi, which extends for more than 7.3 kilometers. The methodology used made it possible to recover the data related to the sequence followed by the construction of the Cahuachi Ceremonial Center in its five phases of evolution over almost a thousand years.

In a first stage, the Project focused on determining the relationship between the habitation sites of the Nasca culture with the Cahuachi Ceremonial Center and the geoglyphs of the Pampa de Nasca, including the cadastre and relief of the main rock art stations located in secondary valleys.


Since 1991, having completed the geological study of the area allowed us to identify the two main factors that determined the abandonment of the great ceremonial center: an earthquake of unprecedented violence in parallel with a catastrophic flood. It was also determined that in the phase prior to the final abandonment, all sectors of Cahuachi were the scene of rituals with human sacrifices, animals, and ceremonial materials (including a large number of musical instruments). The exasperation due to the climatic-environmental situation, possibly caused by the El Niño phenomenon and the earthquake that caused many of the temples to collapse, led the Nasca priestly elite to initiate a destructive project of enormous dimensions, whose main objective was the theocratic capital itself.


After intense ceremonial activity, with sacrifices made probably to appease the wrath of the divinities responsible for the catastrophic natural events, the wooden structures of most of the temples were set on fire, thus wiping out centuries of civilization’s history.

The results obtained up to the present have allowed to partially reconstruct the society of the Nasca culture, one of the most important of the southern coast of Peru. Studies were also carried out on their diet, clothing, economy and other activities. The referent analyzes for Cahuachi date it between 500 a. C. and the 550 d. C., although the oldest dating carried out by the Mission shows 4282 a. c.

The great task now is to continue exploring, studying and enhancing the Cahuachi Ceremonial Center. In more than 40 years, only 3% of the area of ​​the archaeological site has been studied and we still have a lot to discover.

Excavations Gallery