NAZCA LINES: HISTORY AND MYSTERIES
WHAT ARE THE NAZCA LINES?
The Nazca Lines are still one of the greatest archaeological mysteries to decipher.
In an arid coastal plain of Peru, near the city of Nazca and about 450 km south of the capital Lima, there are a lot of geoglyphs (drawings traced in the ground) depicting animals (whale, monkey, dog, flamingo, spider, condor, lizard, frigate bird, parrot and others), plants, geometric figures and various drawings, extending for several kilometres.
The lines, 40 to 210 centimeters wide and up to 30 centimeters deep, are perfectly straight even if they cross hills, rough terrain and depressions.
They were traced simply by moving the stones made dark by oxidation from the ground, so that the underlying gravel highlighted the figures with its pale yellow and reddish-brown color.
All the drawings are made with a single continuous line, without interruptions.
Their shape is understandable only from above and this increases the mystery of how and why they were created.
The climate of the Nazca plateau, characterized by stable temperatures at 77°F and rains practically non-existent, would have safeguarded the figures to this day.
Since 1994 they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
DISCOVERY OF THE NAZCA LINES
The first evidence of the existence of the Nazca Lines dates back to 1547, when the Spaniard Pedro Cieza de Leon spoke of “signs in some areas of the Nazca Desert”.
However, these claims were not investigated at the time and were soon forgotten.
Even if some shapes are visible from the nearby hills, it was pilots of the Peruvian Air Force who reported their presence, after almost four centuries.
In 1929, Peruvian archaeologist Julio Cesar Tello began studying them, describing them as “sacred roads”.
In the same year, American anthropologist Paul Kosok did the same with his partner, the German Maria Reiche Neumann. Their interpretation pointed to a giant solar and lunar calendar with which Nazca astronomers made predictions about harvest and rain.
Maria Reiche Neumann has dedicated her whole life to carrying out research, preserving it and making it known to the world.
Thanks to her work, the Nazca Lines were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.
WHO DREW THE NAZCA LINES?
Tests with Carbon 14 proved unsuitable for certain dating so the drawings in the plateau were compared with ceramics found in Cahuachi.
Some scientists believe that the drawings were made by the Nazca civilization in different periods, from 300 BC to the 15th century BC, when the Mesoamerican peoples were progressively destroyed by the Spanish conquerors.
It’s possible that they made small-scale drawings and then reproduced them on the ground, multiplying the measurements with a network of poles and ropes.
Taking in mind that at ground level it’s not possible to perceive whether the figures are drawn correctly or not, it is thought that the construction was organized from an elevated place.
A place that may have been a hill, but some scientists proved that the Nazcas had the knowledge to get a hot air balloon up.
WHAT DO NAZCA LINES REPRESENT?
As unfortunately often happens, what we cannot immediately understand we think cannot have a logical explanation.
It seems impossible that civilizations lived before us had much more advanced scientific and engineering knowledge than ours, to the point that we still cannot understand how they were able to build certain constructions or know the cosmos better than we do.
Since the mystery is far from being solved, the hypotheses are a lot. Let’s see some of them.
A Spanish document from 1653 explained that in the Inca capital of Cusco the sanctuaries were built along lines that started from the Temple of the Sun.
The Aymarà tribe, who lived near Lake Titicaca, also drew very similar lines to join small stone buildings used for sacred functions.
Similarly, some scientists consider the Nazca Lines to be paths used for religious purposes.
In fact, the drawings have one entrance and one exit line, after having covered the whole figure.
It is therefore easy to imagine crossing it in an single file, as during a procession.
In the vicinity of some of the larger figures were found pieces of ceramic vases, agricultural products and marine animals.
Others assume that the drawings were drawn to be seen by their gods, who obviously lived in the sky.
Ancient civilizations have demonstrated much more precise and advanced astronomical knowledge than ours.
It is therefore logical that a hypothesis sees a link with astronomical observations.
Some figures have identical orientations to the Pleiades and other constellations while some have intersection points with sunrises or sunsets at certain times of the year.
The Nazca Lines could be a huge astronomical calendar, with figures representing constellations and lines indicating the celestial course of certain stars.
Those who want to dismantle this thesis argue that not all drawings have an identical positioning in the celestial sphere, so the mystery cannot be solved, at least exclusively, with an astronomical calendar.
Some researchers see the Nazca Lines as a sacred place where rituals were made for rain and the vital search for water.
For several morphological reasons, water coming down from nearby mountains was absorbed by the desert but continued to flow underground.
The Nazca civilization was able to create sophisticated and ingenious aqueducts, connected by pipelines, from which they extracted water from the aquifers and rivers at a depth of tens of meters.
In this way they made very arid lands arable.
Even today you can see large green oases with small pastures and crops of cotton, beans and potatoes.
According to this hypothesis, drawings of the Nazca Lines indicate the placement of fountains, wells, springs, aqueducts, etc.
However, the Nazca Lines can be considered the greatest graphic work on the Earth.
The drawings are fascinating and geometrically perfect, so one hypothesis assumes that this is a giant art gallery, designed to be observed from above.
And if this is true, one would have to admit that over 2000 years ago man already knew how to fly.
In 2015, a team of researchers from Japan’s Yamagata University presented the theory that geoglyphs have been tracked by at least two cultures and that their purpose has changed over time.
Born to religious worship, they were later made to adorn the pilgrimage route to the pre-Inca city of Cahuachi, capital of Nazca culture.
Since one of the figures is called “the astronaut” because its similarity with the appearance we give to extraterrestrial beings, there can of course be no lack of hypotheses on this subject.
The very long lines and gigantic drawings of animal would be a reminder for “prehistoric extraterrestrials”.
Some perfect lines are more than 8 km long and one in even 65 km long.
They could be a landing strip for UFOs.
Or it could be the extraterrestrials who drew the drawings, visible only from above.
A similar but in some ways even more shocking theory arises from the textiles used by the Nazca.
The filaments were narrower than those used centuries later to build airships and did not even allow water to penetrate.
This does not mean that they knew how to fly balloons or airships, but that they had the tools to do so.
In 1961, not far from here, the River Ica flooded the surrounding village with the same name, bringing to light thousands of decorated stones.
Their existence was already known at least 500 years before, since a chronicler of the time described them as a trousseau of the Inca nobles.
In May 1965, farmer Felix Llosa Romero donated one of these stones to his friend Javier Cabrera Darquea, a surgeon at the Ica Hospital and professor of biology and anthropology at the University of Ica.
In that stone, however, was engraved an agnathus, a fish extinct thousands of years before and certainly unknown to Peruvian farmers.
Cabrera then began to buy all the similar stones, going so far as to have about 15,000 that he decided to exhibit at his own expense in the House of Culture of Ica.
The stones are made of granite andesite, the dimensions range from a few centimeters to about one meter and were engraved before oxidation, believed to have occurred around 12,000 BC.
This would mean that those civilizations had incredible technological knowledge.
But even more shocking are the themes of the drawings depicted: dinosaurs and extinct animals, astronomy, maps of ancient continents, cataclysms, medicine and surgical operations.
In short, the drawings on the stones of Ica show very advanced knowledge that a primitive civilization (in our opinion) should not have, and figures of animals extinct millennia before the supposed birth of man.
They also represent interactions between humans and dinosaurs with attitudes similar to those we have with our pets today.
If we don’t want to admit that humans and dinosaurs lived together, we have to accept that 12,000 years ago our ancestors found and studied dinosaur fossils.
What is the connection of the Ica stones with the Nazca Lines?
Among the various drawings are some where men ride pterodactyli, observing a stegosaurus with a telescope.
What if the Nazca Lines were observed in this way?
Of course, this thesis is dismantled mainly in two ways.
Most scientists need only the reference to “Darwin’s theory of evolution” and the consequent impossibility of coexistence between dinosaurs (said to be extinct 65 million years ago) and the first hominids (Australopithecus appeared about 4 million years ago and Homo Habilis about 2.5 million years ago).
Others consider the Ica stones a hoax created by Peruvian farmers.
The quality of the designs and the style of the carvings obviously improves in the stones discovered in more recent times.
No doubt the hype has prompted many forgers to decorate some stones to sell them to tourists as souvenirs, but they should also be distinguished from those mentioned 500 years ago…
In 1980 some researchers carried on the idea that the Nazca plateau was a great sports arena, where “Olympic Games” were organized.
The lines would then be circuits where the competitions took place.
HOW TO SEE THE NAZCA LINES
The best way to get your own idea is always to see for yourself what you’re talking about.
To see the Nazca Lines you have to arrive in the homonymous Peruvian town.
Cruz del Sur buses connect Nazca with Lima, Paracas, Arequipa, Cusco and Puno.
But as I said, the only way to see the drawings is from above.
The essential stop is therefore the Nazca Airport, from where the small planes flying over the desert daily.
Almost two months in advance, after reading so many reviews, I booked the fly with Aeroparacas company.
Arriving at their offices on the chosen day, there was no trace of our conversations but I still pay 90 euros for a flight that would take off after about two hours.
In the small airport your passport is checked and you are weighed. This passage is essential because you will fly on small Cessna and the plane must be balanced.
Aeroparacas’ seriousness with me has been non-existent.
Despite having paid in advance, I was put on the waiting list, warned several times that maybe the airport was going to close due to the sandstorms, only to be boarded shortly after making a memorable outburst.
After 6 hours of patient waiting.
My advice is therefore to go to the airport early in the morning by yourself and ask at the check-in desks of all the companies for the nearest departure time and the best price.
The cost is about 80 euros to see 12 figures in 30 minutes of flight, or 150 euros for 20 figures in 60 minutes.
Much higher prices are not justified.
As said, the planes are Cessna with 7 seats: the pilot, the co-pilot (who will explain each figure to recognize it quickly, following the tip of the wing) and 5 passengers (two in the first row, two in the second row and one in the queue).
Everyone has headphones to listen to the co-pilot and a map showing the plane’s route and the location of each geoglyph.
The figures are not always immediately distinguishable and it will take concentration and imagination to recognize them in the midst of many lines that ply the ground. And you need also a great eye view.
ou have to be aware that the flight will not be quiet but the plane will constantly tilt first to one side and then to the other, to allow everyone to see the famous Nazca Lines.
Or rather, to allow it to those who do not suffer from the plane and can see well.
If you know that you’re afraid to fly, that you can’t handle the inclinations of the plane, if you suffer from vertigo or if you don’t see well from a distance… Forget it.
And, in any case, avoid having breakfast before your flight.
You would spend at least 90 euros not to distinguish any drawings or, worse, to spend the whole flight vomiting while, with your eyes closed by fear, you pray to come back to the ground alive.
I sat in the back of the plane and that allowed me to see both the left and the right sides.
I filmed the entire flight and only on landing did I realize that the other 4 passengers had experienced the worst flight of their lives, or maybe the worst nightmare ever.
The uniqueness and mysteries of the Nazca Lines make this place a destination to visit to reflect on what you see.
They have fascinated me more than Machu Picchu, but that doesn’t mean I was excited.
On the contrary, they left me with a lot of doubts and perplexities.
Obviously I’m not a scientist, historian, geologist etc but I travel to see the world with my own eyes, analyze and make my ideas.
The first thing I thought as soon as I got off the plane was “it’s not possible that these drawings have been there since 2500 years, where planes can’t fly because wind and sandstorms.”
There are lines 40 centimeters wide and 30 centimeters deep: it’s not possible that in 2500 years rain and wind have not buried them or that someone has not unkkedly ruined them or by vandalism.
It is true that some figures have now been almost completely erased by the construction of the Panamerican or by tyre tracks.
Some drawings also seemed to me too “futuristic” to have been made 2500 years ago.
Believing that the climate that has remained unchanged for millennia has protected the drawings, my idea is that they were made by different civilizations and in very different times.
I think that the first lines were made for religious reasons: the gods were invoked (maybe each figure represented a different deity) and processions were made along the lines in single line.
I have no doubt that some ancient civilizations had much more advanced knowledge and specialization than our current ones.
That’s why I’m sure that they wouldn’t have had difficulty in drawing complex and mile-long figures using poles and ropes.
But above all I do not deny that they could have had the ability to look at them from above with flying objects similar to hot-air balloons or airships.
The truthfulness of the Ica stones and the consequent thesis of coexistence, moreover friendly, between humans and dinosaurs is fascinating but perhaps more difficult to support than the previous one.
Ancient civilizations (Maya, Aztecs, Egyptians, Shardana, Babylonians, Persians, etc.) had much more advanced astronomical knowledge than ours. This was seen both from the calendars and in their constructions linked to celestial events at particular periods of the year (not only sunrises and sunsets but equinoxes, solstices, eclipses…).
This obviously makes me think that some drawings depict constellations, celestial routes or otherwise cosmic events.
In part, the Nazca Lines are an astronomical calendar.
I also support the artistic hypothesis, which is also divided into at least two historical periods.
One is related to the period when pilgrimages were made to the capital Cahuachi.
They could have been signs, prayers or, why not murals by the “young Nazca vandals writers”.
The second historical period, or at least the last, in my opinion dates back to the present day.
Some forms are too futuristic, almost identical to characters from movies, comics or cartoons.
Maybe I’m too skeptical, but these were in my opinion made to “increase the myth” and create new sources of investment and profit.
What would the city of Nazca be if the Lines weren’t there?
Would there be a flow of tourists, travelers, curious, scientists, ufologists etc if there were no Lines?
Would there be airlines, hotels and all the economic income if the Lines weren’t there?
What do you think? What idea have you had about the Nazca Lines?
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