The reasons behind the Nazca Lines remain a mystery to this day. Why were they drawn?
Maria Reiche is a German-born Peruvian archaeologist who devoted much of her life to studying them and earned the nickname 'Lady of the Lines'. She believed the lines and shapes were astronomical calendars or depictions of constellations. She was instrumental in having them protected in 1978 and in 1994 when the area became a World Heritage Site. Discovered in the 1930s after pilots spotted lines, rectangles and triangles drawn across the desert, further investigations have found around seventy animal and other shapes – one which resembles an astronaut. Known as geoglyphs (designs created by moving stones or earth on a landscape), the Nazca Lines have been studied by many. There are suggestions that they were drawn by aliens – the lines being runways for spacecraft, or used as directions for primitive forms of hot air balloons. By dating pottery left nearby the sites, it is thought they were created somewhere between AD445 - AD605. The lines can be viewed from the ground or air. Both are highly recommended.
Approximately 25km north of Nazca on the side of the Pan American Highway stands a metal viewing tower. For a small cost, tourists can climb the 18m El Mirador and view the outline of two hands and a many-branched tree. Several tour companies fly over the lines leaving from Maria Reiche Airport in Nazca. Planes are normally six or eight-seater Cessna which can leave passengers feeling a little queasy on the thirty-minute flight, however, no matter what side of the plane you sit on, you will see the many lines and geometrical shapes spread across the brown desert. The scale is staggering, one triangle is measured at 3km long. Pilots circle a number of shapes etched in the stone surface such as a whale measuring 65m in length, a 93m-long hummingbird, a 135m condor, a monkey, a spider, and the astronaut.
It’s difficult to take photos due to the continual movement, so it’s best just to enjoy the sight of these precisely drawn figures. You’ll be left perplexed, still asking the questions that no one has been able to answer. Why? How?