The Nazca Lines are gigantic geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches 53 miles between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru. They were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BCE and 700 CE. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, and lizards. The Nazca Lines cannot be recognized as coherent figures except from the air. Since it is presumed the Nazca people could never have seen their work from this vantage point, there has been much speculation on the builders' abilities and motivations.
The lines were made by removing the iron oxide coated pebbles which cover the surface of the Nazca Desert. When the gravel is removed, they contrast with the light-colored earth underneath. There are several hundred simple lines and geometric patterns on the Nazca Plateau, as well as over seventy curvilinear animal, insect, and human figures. The area encompassing the lines is nearly 200 square miles, and the largest figures can be nearly 900 feet (270 meters) long. The lines persist due to the extremely dry, windless, and constant climate of the Nazca region: the Nazca Desert is one of the driest on Earth and maintains a temperature around 25°C (77°F) year round, and the lack of wind has helped keep the lines uncovered to the present day.
Since their discovery, various theories have been proposed regarding the methods and motivations below the lines' construction. The accepted archaeological theory is that the Nazca people made the lines using nothing but simple tools and surveying equipment. Wooden stakes in the ground at the end of some lines (which were used to carbon-date the figures) support this theory. Furthermore, Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky has reproduced two of 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 48-hour period. However, there is not much extant evidence concerning why the figures were built, so the Nazca's motivation remains the lines' most persistent mystery. Most believe that their motivation was religious, making images that only gods could see clearly. The details of their theology, however, remain unsolved.
Another theory involves the work of David Johnson. Johnson has spent long hours researching the Nazca Lines and their apparent connection with underground waterways. Johnson has allegedly used dowsing to track these water tunnels and claims that the lines indicate whether the ground contains water or not. The areas with the most geoglyphs are purportedly centered around areas with high amounts of underground water and are usually close to wells and other on-land water sources. A suggestion Johnson makes is the fact that the inhabitants living in such a dry land would spend a significant portion of their time searching for water sources. By creating a giant, full-scale map they would know exactly where to find their water no matter what area of the desert they were in. The geoglyphs would then be religious figures for the gods or names given for each water source.
Kosok and Reiche advanced one of the earliest reasons given for the Nazca Lines: that they were intended to point to the places on the distant horizon where the Sun and other celestial bodies rose or set. This hypothesis was evaluated by two different experts in archaeoastronomy, Gerald Hawkins and Anthony Aveni, and they both concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support an astronomical explanation.
Notwithstanding Gerald Hawkins' and Anthony Aveni's dismissal of an astronomical explanation of the Nazca Lines and geoglyphs, eclipsologist Robin Edgar has theorized that the Nazca Lines, particularly the biomorph geoglyphs that depict animals, human figures, birds and "flowers" are almost certainly an ancient response to the so-called "Eye of God" that is manifested in the sky during a total solar eclipse. An unusual series of total solar eclipses over southern Peru coincided with the time period during which the Nazca Lines and geoglyphs were created. The totally eclipsed sun distinctly resembles the pupil and iris of a gigantic eye looking down from the sky thus providing an explanation as to why the Nazca Indians created gigantic geoglyph artworks that are best viewed by an "Eye in the Sky."
Some (for example Jim Woodmann) have proposed that the Nazca Lines presuppose some form of manned flight (in order to see them) and that a hot air balloon was the only possible available technology. Woodmann actually made a hot air balloon from materials and using techniques that would have been available to people at the time in order to test this hypothesis. The balloon flew (after a fashion) demonstrating that this hypothesis was possible, but there is no hard evidence either way.
Another theory contends that the lines are the remains of "walking temples," where a large group of worshipers walked along a preset pattern dedicated to a particular holy entity, similar to the practice of labyrinth walking. Residents of the local villages say the ancient IndiansAndes. This take on the Nazca Lines' purpose and importance is far more likely, as it correlates with the purposes of other North American geoglyphs. It also ties in with the extensive network of underground canals and waterways found dating from the same period. conducted rituals on these giant drawings to thank the gods and to ensure that water would continue to flow from the
Perhaps the most controversial theory was put forward by Erich von Däniken in his book Chariots of the Gods, who proposed that the lines were in fact landing strips for alien spacecraft. His argument is similar to Woodman's, claiming that the designs are so large and complex that they could only have been constructed using flying machines.
JOURNEYS trips that include the Nazca Lines:
Nazca Lines & Paracas trip extension
Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_lines