The Nazca Lines is one of the greatest mysteries that keeps intriguing researchers worldwide. What lies behind these massive-scale geoglyphs that are etched in the middle of the Peruvian desert?

These enormous figures, widely known as the Nazca Lines, were discovered in the early 1900′s into the desert in Peru, about 200 miles south of Lima between the Inca and Nazca valleys.

Enormous shapes and strange symbols cover a total area that measures 37 miles in length and 1 mile in width. In order to distinguish the forms, one must watch them from a long distance directly above.

These perfectly-straight parallel and intersecting lines depict animals, plants and fantastic creatures on a giant scale. The approximately 70 biomorphs (animal and plant figures) are believed to have been constructed around 200 BC, while the 900 geoglyphs (geometric forms that include straight lines, triangles, spirals, circles and trapezoids) were constructed 500 years later.

These strange forms were discovered in 1927 by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe, who was hiking through the foothills of the surrounding area. In the 1930s, an aircraft spotted them during a water survey.

Who and why created the Nazca lines?

nazca lines Hummingbird
Image by Diego Delso / CC BY-SA 

Over the years, many researchers have tried to find out their purpose. As a result, scientific research resulted in several conclusions over time. There are numerous explanations on how and by whom the Nazca Lines were created.

In the 1940s, American explorer Paul Kosok, who visited the plain, pointed out the lines’ astronomical significance, suggesting that the area was an observatory.

In 1968, American astronomer Gerald Hawkins used a program to calculate the number of lines that coincided with an important astronomical event. He confounded Kosok’s theory, proving that it was the result of pure chance.

English explorer Tony Morrison, after conducting research on the people of the Andes Mountains, gave another explanation on the Nazca Lines. He discovered a tradition of wayside shrines linked by straight pathways.

The pilgrims would move from shrine to shrine, where they would pray and meditate. Morrison reached the conclusion that the Nazca Lines had a similar use, meaning that these lines were markings that led the pilgrims on a ritual route. As for the symbols, he suggested they were related to religious ceremonies.

A study presented on April 16th, 2015 at the 80th annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology, suggested that people may have smashed ceramic pots on the ground where the lines intersected as part of an ancient religious rite.

Moreover, the Nazca Lines were probably created by two different groups of people that inhabited different regions in the desert. Extensive research is being conducted on the Nazca Lines for the decoding of this fabulous site.


  3. Featured image credit: PsamatheM/CC BY-SA

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