Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This image taken from http://www.ultimatechase.com/chase_accounts/nazca_lines_peru_stock_photos.htm
I first heard of the Nasca Lines on some 'news of the weird' Erick von Daniken TV show. The world at large barely registered them until airplanes began to fly over Peru. The Lines are 'drawings' in the sand, formed by removing rocks to reveal the differently colored substrate. Thanks to the extremely dry climate, they remain nearly as built  more than a thousand years ago, other than one inadvertently truncated by the Pan American highway. I've read that they cover an area more than 55 kilometers in length, but there's a lot of discrepant information out there.
Here's a layout courtesy of

There are over sixty images, some hundreds of feet long, and many  radiating straight lines as well. Of course there is rampant speculation as to the meaning of the symbols and the act of constructing them. The builders died out leaving little behind other than mummified bodies and artifacts in graves that were thoroughly pillaged even before the Lines were (re)discovered.
The mummified remains, buried in underground rooms,  were accompanied by tools and household goods, including valuable ceramics, and fabrics, which rarely survived. Grave robbers left the remains scattered about, and archaeologists have been gathered what they could and set back in place. What looks like tails is in fact hair.

The tourist can be flown over the Lines in a small plane, or can climb a metal tower beside the highway for a quick peek at the nearest image, which is the option we chose. Some of the images can also be seen from nearby foothills.

Even if one of the figures may resemble an astronaut, I'm not buying the 'aliens in spaceships' theory about the origin of the Lines. I like the idea expounded by the astronomer who gives the nightly planetarium show at the Nasca Lines Hotel. He points out that this was a desert culture necessarily focused upon water, who perhaps made processions of prayer or praise along the straight Lines which might have been oriented towards a particular source.


 Spiral wells built by the Nasca people still exist and are still in use. This is one of several which channels an underground stream from several miles away. 

 The figures, the condor, hummingbird, monkey, spider, hand, and others (the astronaut?) might have been intended to remind the gods (the Sun?) of the presence of the Nasca people. If so, I find such earnest and laborious supplication very touching, and more rational than von Daniken.
Dr. Maria Reich, a German mathematician, was so fascinated by the Nasca Lines that she spent  her life researching them, right here in this room, now a museum. You could say she was the one who put them on the map and gave Peru's tourism a big boost.

As usual, Wikipedia can tell you a lot more.

Here are a few more pictures taken in the area

No comments: