Nazca Lines

Peru, Nazca Lines

Nasca is a unique place due to the mysteries of its marvelous lines and figures, drawn with spectacular perfection, by the gods, by aliens, by giants or by ordinary people. The beauty and magnitude of the lines must be observed from above.

The Nazca Lines are located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the pampa (a large flat area of southern Peru). The desolate plain of the Peruvian coast which comprises the Pampas of San Jose (Jumana), Socos, El Ingenio and others in the province of Nasca, is 400 Km. South of Lima, covers an area of approximately 450 km2, of sandy desert as well as the slopes of the contours of the Andes.

At some time before 1000 BCE, the Nazca Valley was inhabited by a people who developed advanced farming methods that allowed them to build an irrigation system, improve their crops, and expand the area of land they could farm. Over the next 1,500 years, they also developed outstanding skills in weaving, pottery, and architecture. The Nazca were wiped out after the Spanish conquest, so that piece of history is quite blank. Perhaps the most fascinating of their cultural achievements was the creation of a remarkable ground art -- the exact purpose of which remains a mystery.

The archaeological explanation as to who made them and how is widely accepted; namely that the Nazca people made the lines using simple tools and surveying equipment. Wooden stakes in the ground at the end of some lines (which were used to carbon-date the figures) and ceramics found on the the surface support this theory. Furthermore, researchers such as Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky, have reproduced the figures using the technology available to the Nazca Indians of the time without aerial supervision. With careful planning and simple technologies, a small team of individuals could recreate even the largest figures within a couple of days. However, there is less extant evidence concerning why the figures were built, so the Nazca people's motivation remains the lines' most persistent mystery.

Nazca is known primarily for the "lines" or "geoglyphs" in the desert, large depictions of animals and other designs etched into the surface by an ancient culture for reasons that continue to baffle scholars. Adding to the mystery is the fact that these designs can only be fully appreciated from the air (and except for a few amateur archeologists and UFO fanatics, no one believes this lost culture had developed flying machines). The Nazca lines are one of nine areas in Perú to receive World Heritage Site designation.

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