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The Mystery Of Peru’s Nazca Lines

The past clings onto the most unexpected of places. History is etched on every surface if one has the eyes to find it out. Ever traveled over the high desert of southern Peru on an airplane? If you have then you would have certainly noticed the weird but sure lines on the ground, some just plain geometrical, while others forming some shapes like a bird or a tree. These lines are the Nazca Lines. These are found 200 miles southeast of Lima, near the town of Nasca. A total of 800 straight lines,300 geometric figures, and 70 animal and plant designs are strewn across the whole desert, making it a subject of mystery and research at the same time.

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The mystery behind Nazca lines

These were first studied by a Peruvian archaeologist, Toribio Mejia Xesspe in 1926 but was revealed more by pilots flying over the desert during the 1930s. Later on, American professor Paul Kosok started research on these in 1941 when he landed at the foot of a line. He discovered the sunset in direct alignment with this line, which led him to establish the astronomical theories about the lines. He was closely followed by Maria Reiche, a German who studied the lines for 40 long years and also fiercely protected the present World Heritage Site. She even lived in a small house near the findings in order to protect the lines from reckless visitors.

These lines, also known as “geoglyphs”, were probably created by the Nazca people or may even have been created by the Chivan or Paracas people, two cultures which lived before the Nazca settled in. These glyphs were created in two ways. In some glyphs, the rocks were moved only from the border of the figures, creating almost an outline, while in others, the rocks were moved from the interior. The surface of this arid region is a deep rust color because of the oxidation of the iron-coated pebbles. When these were dug out to make the inscriptions on the desert floor, the sub-layers, being light, in contrast, were easily visible, even from a great height above.

There have been many theories regarding these lines, as to why they have been drawn. The most primitive answer was that they were astronomical lines as proposed by the Kosok-Reiche astronomical theories but later, in the 70s these theories were refuted. Later discoveries said that the lines did not match with the astronomical phenomena happening there. This led them to the second-best possible conclusion- that these glyphs were more linked to worshipping the gods so that there may be more availability of water in this place which was only blessed with 20 minutes of rainfall per year. It could also have been used as an irrigation system or a guide to water.

Nazca lines astronaut

Among the many glyphs that adorn the arid desert-scapes of Peru, is the “astronaut”, a humanoid illustration depicting their thirst for newer sciences. There are innumerable birds, trees, and animals, thousands of kilometers long equally exotic in nature. Some bird species have been found to be of those which are nowhere found near the place in question. Hence, traveling was the only answer. They used to carve out their findings on the desert stone. Even stories of beheading have been found in these glyphs. It seemed almost as if these Nazca people embossed their stories in the earth they lived on, creating history itself.

Lastly, the Nazca lines have been naturally protected because of the aridity of the region. But, in 2009, the region received it’s first rainfall in ages, thus eroding the surface of the World Heritage Site a little bit. Even more, damages were rendered by tourists traveling in trucks and thus the government has set up stringent security at this site. The research continues in decoding each glyph and finding out if they are remotely related to aliens too. Who knows, with all the discoveries, this place might just turn into the Eighth Wonder of the World.


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