Nazca Lines in Peru. According to scientific studies, the Nazca lines were created by the indigenous inhabitants over a period of 600 years from A.D.
From an alien landing strip to a religious shrine for ancient deities to an Olympic Stadium-like venue, the enigmatic Nazca Lines have intrigued archeologists for decades and have been at the center of much debate as academics have attempted to conclusively uncover the mysterious purpose of these allegedly 2000-year-old geoglyphs. Strewn 80km across the vast Nazca Desert of southern Peru, the fascinating lines vary in design from simple geometric outlines to detailed animal images. However, although gigantic in size and ancient in age, the mesmerizing patterns were not truly brought to public attention or appreciated until the first commercial flights of the 1930s and it is from this height, in the comfort of a charter airplane that tourists today can marvel at the artistry of these utterly unique and almost other-worldly sand formations.
- According to scientific studies, the Nazca lines were created by the indigenous inhabitants over a period of 600 years from A.D. 1 to 700 through a scraping process in which the copper-colored rocks of the Peruvian desert floor were removed to reveal the lighter-colored earth beneath.
- Thanks to its arid climate of little rainfall or wind, the Nazca desert has perfectly-preserved the ancient geoglyphics despite the passing of around 2000 years.
Although virtually impossible to name all of the estimated 700 patterns which make up the Nazca lines, the geoglyphs are generally placed into two categories: living species and geometric shapes. There are depictions of some of the world’s smallest insects, such as the spider, to some of the world’s largest mammals, such as the killer whale, as well as spellbinding spirals to endless zigzags. The carefully produced, almost mathematical, primeval designs accentuate the creativity and ingenuity of Nazca’s ancient indigenous inhabitants. However, the Nazca people’s undeniable flair for art was not just restricted to colossal sand drawings; archeologists have discovered that they were equally the skilled creators of colorfully-decorated pottery and intricately-woven textiles which featured motifs very similar to those found on the Peruvian desert’s canvas-like expanse.
Unsurprisingly, given their bizarre appearance, the Nazca lines have provoked an abundance of equally strange theories regarding their initial purpose. Whereas Erich von Daniken famously suggested in the 1970s that the outlines were the handiwork of extraterrestrial beings who used the patterned baked soil as a large landing pad, Johan Reinhard claimed that the lines were sacred paths leading to holy places of polytheistic worship and Georg A. von Breunig argued that the shapes were dedicated to ritualistic Athletic championships in which Nazca’s inhabitants would sprint along the numerous lines to honor their multiple deities. Nevertheless, despite a multitude of in-depth studies, the enduring mystery of the function of the Nazca lines is yet to be conclusively solved and, unless explicit evidence pointing towards one of the particular arguments is found, it seems likely that the string of varying, and often peculiar, theories will continue long into the future.
As for the privileged opportunity to lay your eyes on these fascinating designs, visitors to the Peruvian plateau can choose from two options: a bus tour or a charter airplane trip. Whereas the bus excursion enables tourists to observe the lines up-close, most would agree that it is only from the height of an airplane that visitors can truly appreciate the sheer immensity of this ancient, and absolutely captivating, desert artwork.