The chili pepper (aji) was one of the earliest domesticated plants in the Andes, with evidence of its presence by 4000 B.C. Used as a seasoning and preservative in Andean cuisine, peppers were also one of the most common images on ancient Nazca ceramics. Above the peppers encircling this vessel are Inca terns, seabirds that live along the Humboldt Current off the coast of Peru and Chile. In their distinctive orange beaks, they hold fish - perhaps anchovies. Nazca artists were inspired by nature but took liberties in representing its bounty. They often simplified or otherwise abstracted or altered forms to suit the needs of an object's functionality, image clarity, or aesthetic appeal.