By indexer
134 days ago

The mystery of the Nazca Lines

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The Nazca Lines are probably the world’s best-known example of “geoglyphs”, which can be defined as large-scale man-made markings on the ground that are made for artistic, religious or social reasons. But why are they there?

The Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are in southern Peru, on barren land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. They comprise a huge collection of designs that cover many square miles. They take the form of straight lines, spirals, geometric shapes and depictions of animals and birds including monkeys, condors and hummingbirds.

The Lines are best seen from the air, which is what gave the Swiss writer Erich von Däniken the extraordinary idea that they were created by extra-terrestrials who used them as landing strips for their flying saucers in prehistoric times.

However, there is no need to go to these lengths to explain how the Lines came into being, although their precise purpose has yet to be established with certainty.

The Nazca were a tribe of people who lived in the area from around 400 BC to 600 AD. They were farmers who cultivated lands that were watered by rivers that ran off the Andes and flowed to the west. Their civilization was reasonably advanced and they produced distinctive pottery and textiles that bear patterns similar to those seen in the Lines.

This is a naturally arid region, not helped by the fact that the weather pattern known as El Niño can lead to seasons in which little rain falls and the rivers dry up. There is evidence that the people were highly religious and developed elaborate rituals to appease their gods in the hope of ensuring that the rivers would flow and their crops flourish. The Nazca Lines may well have played an important part in these rituals.

The Lines are narrow pathways that have been trodden flat and marked by stones along their edges. The stones are darker than the underlying dusty soil, being rich in iron ore, and are to be seen everywhere in the area as a result of natural geological processes. The paths were clearly intended to be walked along, although they do not lead to anywhere in particular. It may well be that one way of appeasing the gods was to walk a path from beginning to end, and it is noticeable that the paths form continuous lines with few if any crossings – a Nazca could take a ritual walk, chanting a prayer as he or she did so, and not run the risk of bumping into anyone else.

Shards of pottery have been found at intervals along the Lines, so it is possible that walkers may have smashed pots containing oil or some other precious liquid as they walked, as a means of reinforcing their prayers.

The Nazca civilization disappeared about 1,400 years ago, so it is not possible to be certain about the purpose of the Lines. That said, any explanation involving Earth-bound people is surely more likely than that they were navigational aids for little green men from outer space!
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Justin Very interesting
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Explorer2017 Interesting
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