The Nazca (also spelled Nasca) Lines are geoglyphs located in an arid coastal area of Peru that cover an estimated 170 square miles (450 square kilometers).
Scratched on the ground, they number in the thousands and depict creatures from both thenatural worldand the human imagination. They include animals such as the spider, hummingbird, monkey, lizard, pelican and even a killer whale. Also depicted are plants, trees, flowers and oddly shaped fantastic figures. Also illustrated are geometric motifs such as wavy lines, triangles, spirals and rectangles.
The vast majority of the lines date from 200 BC to 500 AD, to a time when a people referred to as the Nazca inhabited the region. The earliest lines, created with piled up stones, date as far back as 500 BC.
Who made them?
The Nazca people were an ancient prehistoric culture that was successful in usingengineering techniquesto bring underground water to the surface for irrigation. Some of the theories regarding the purpose of the lines connect them to this need for water.
One of their largest settlements is Cahuachi, a place of ceremony that overlooks some of the lines. It contains more than 40 mounds, including pyramids made of adobe.
When were they “discovered”?
Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe was the first to study and report the Nazca Lines in detail after coming across them, on foot, in 1927. In the 1930s asair trafficin the area increased, the lines became better known, eventually attracting a steady stream of tourists.
It’s often stated that the lines can only be seen from the air; however, this is a myth. A 2007 study that looked at 1,500 drawings in the Palpa region found that “each and every geoglyph” can be spotted from the ground.