What Are The Nazca Lines in Peru?

As human beings, it’s in our nature to try to find explanations for phenomena that seems impossible to explain. One of the most fascinating- of these ancient mysteries is the Nazca Lines in Peru. This series of geoglyphs, or a large-scale artwork, in Southern Peru, is the subject of research and theories due to the immense size of the structures and the unusual figures that they reflect.

The Nazca Lines are series of hundreds of designs created dragging shallow lines in the ground of the dry Pampa soil.  By breaking through the surface of the red dirt, the white soil below was revealed, creating the figures.

The most impressive aspect of the Nazca Lines is how huge they are: the largest are over 200 meters (660 feet) across. That’s more than two football fields.

History of the Nazca Lines in Peru

The Astronaut, one of the most famous of the Nazca Lines.

The Astronaut, one of the most famous of the Nazca Lines.

The Nazca Lines date to between 400 and 650 AD and are named after the indigenous people believed to have created them.

The designs reflect a large variety of different figures, many of which represent animals or human figures. Some of the most famous figures are the Spider, the Hummingbird, the Condor, and the Whale, a surprising choice for the Peruvian pampa.

There is even one that has been called the Astronaut. This other-worldly figure fed the theory that extraterrestrials were somehow related to the creation of the Lines.

Another category is figures from nature such as plants, trees, and flowers. There is also a collection of geometrical figures, such as triangles, rectangles, spirals, and circles, as well as straight and wavy lines.

If you’re wondering how they have been preserved all this time, it is thanks to the area’s climate. The soil has a great deal of lime, meaning that the lower layer of soil would eventually harden. Combined with the pampa’s general lack of wind and an isolated location, the Nazca Lines were preserved for these hundreds of years.

They are, however, only 10 to 30 centimeters deep, and so there are concerns about seeing the Nazca Lines destroyed by human activities as well as extreme weather.

Explanations of the Nazca Lines in Peru

Like other mysterious phenomenon, people have made up all kinds of stories about them. Given their size, it’s easy to see why some believe that they were flight paths for aliens or designed to be seen by gods.

It is indeed hard to understand how it was possible to make such huge, yet accurate, drawings without being able to see them from above. Even now, to see many of them in their full glory, it’s best to view them from a plane.

There are endless proposed explanations for the Nazca Lines in Peru: aliens, irrigation schemes, maps of water sources, fertility symbols, and astronomical calendars. Explorer Jim Woodman even theorized that the Nazca must have invented the first hot-air balloon.

Visiting the Nazca Lines in Peru

It is possible to view them from the foothills nearby. In fact, that’s how they were discovered (or re-discovered, actually) in 1927 by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia.

Still, despite decades of archaeological research into the Nazca Lines in Peru, facts haven’t been found that create a consensus as to their meaning.

The Nazca Lines in Peru were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and, as such, are a protected area.

The best way to see the lines is to fly over them, preferably in the early morning before sunlight makes them hard to see. 200 miles south of Lima, the area is also accessible from Cusco and Arequipa. They are fairly near Machu Picchu, making them a popular tourist destination.

If you are fascinated with unexplained phenomenon, the Nazca Lines in Peru are a must-see in any trip to South America.

Are you intrigued by the Nazca Lines? Tell us your theory in the comments!

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