An entrance to the puquios, near Nazca, Peru.

Puquios are an ancient system of subterranean aqueducts near the city of Nazca, Peru. The technology of puquios is similar to that of the qanats of Iran.[1] Of 36 puquios, most still function and are relied upon to bring fresh water into the desert.[2] The puquios have never been fully mapped, nor excavated.[3]


Research has led to conflicting results about when the aqueducts were built, in part due to a general lack of historical references both before and after the time of the Spanish Empire. Some archaeologists contend that they were built by Pre-Columbian people around 540 CE in response to two prolonged droughts during that time. The first historical writing of their existence was in 1605 by Reginaldo de Lizárraga, which some contended could indicate that they were built by the Spanish.[4] However, the available Spanish texts do not mention a project to build the puquios,[5] nor describe already existing water systems.[6]

In their book Irrigation and Society in the Peruvian Desert, Katharina Schreiber and Josue Lancho Rojas explore puquios and show evidence that puquios were built by a pre-Hispanic civilization. On the other hand, Monica Barnes and David Fleming argue that Schreiber and Rojas misinterpreted evidence, presumably ignoring easier explanations for a construction in colonial times.[6]

Some radiocarbon dating of organic materials (Bonn-1972) and accelerator mass spectrometer of rock varnishes of some puquios were dated to around the 6th or 7th century CE.[7]

Satellite researchEdit

Rosa Lasaponara, Nicola Masini, and their team of the Italian CNR (National Research Council), in cooperation with the archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici, studied the puquios using satellite imaging.[8] They found clear evidence that the puquio system must previously have been much more developed than appears today. A series of canals was used to bring to the surface water from underground aquifers and channel it to the areas where it was needed. Excess water was stored in surface reservoirs. To help keep the water flowing, chimneys were excavated above the canals in the shape of corkscrewing funnels. These funnels admitted wind into the canals, and the difference in atmospheric pressure along the canal length forced the water through the system and eventually to the desired destination. Satellite imagery also revealed additional previously unknown puquios in the Nasca drainage basin.[9][10]


  1. ^ Ponce-Vega, p. 280
  2. ^ Proulx 1999, p. 6.
  3. ^ Barnes 1992, p. 111.
  4. ^ Proulx 1999, p. 7.
  5. ^ Proulx 1999, p. 8.
  6. ^ a b The "Puquios" of Nazca in Peru: A Prehispanic Invention or Colonial Artifact?. South American Explorer of unknown date. Retrieved on 2015-10-27 from http://www.saexplorers.org/system/files/magazine/sae-mag-34f-puquios-filtration-galleries.pdf.
  7. ^ Clarkson, Persis B.; Dorn, Ronald I. (1995). "New Chronometric Dates for the Puquios of Nasca, Peru". Latin American Antiquity. 6 (01): 56–69. doi:10.2307/971600. ISSN 1045-6635.
  8. ^ Lasaponara & Masini 2012
  9. ^ William Park (8 April 2016). "The ancient Peruvian mystery solved from space". BBC. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  10. ^ Elisabetta Curzel (16 April 2016). "Perù: risolto il mistero dei «puquios» di Nasca". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 2017-07-08.


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 14°49′36″S 74°54′35″W / 14.826618°S 74.909607°W / -14.826618; -74.909607 (Aqueductos de Cantayoc)