The Nazca Lines of Southern Peru
By | June 23, 2019
In the deserts of southern Peru, about 250 miles south of Lima, white lines interrupt the endless sand. From the ground level, they appear as random grooves dug into the otherwise rust-colored landscape to reveal the lighter-colored sand below. But viewing them from above, as one would from an airplane, reveals many of them to be shapes, including plants and animals, etched into the desert. These are the Nazca Lines, giant geoglyphs, which have mystified researchers for more than eighty years.
The lines can be divided into three categories: straight lines, geometric shapes, and pictorial representations. There are more than 800 straight lines, some of them as long as thirty miles. There are more than 300 geometric shapes including rectangles, triangles, and trapezoids as well as arrows, spirals, zigzags, and wavy lines. The smallest, and yet most well-known, category of Nazca Lines are the pictorial representations, also known as biomorphs. There are seventy of them, ranging from fifty to 1200 feet in length. They include representations of a spider, a hummingbird, a cactus, a monkey, a whale, a flower, a tree, and a dog, among others.
The first person to study the lines was Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Zesspe in 1926. However, they were not brought to the attention of the public until the 1930s when commercial planes began flying over Peru. Naturally, giant “drawings’ created long before the invention of the airplane that could only be identified from high above sparked theories of aliens. This is likely the reason that early researchers - including American professor Paul Kosok who studied the lines in the late 1930s and early 1940s and German archaeologist Maria Reiche, who studied them for 40 years and gained the nickname, the Lady of the Lines - concluded that the lines served an astronomy-related purpose.