Everyone here, it seems, has a theory about the Nasca Lines. The mysterious markings on the desert floor are a massive astronomical calendar. That's a popular one. Or maybe they point to hidden reserves of water, the source of life in the desert.Then there's my favorite: UFO landing site. Forty years ago, Danish writer Erich Von Daniken popularized that theory with his best-selling book Chariots of the Gods? Now, strapped into a four-passenger Cessna circling over a figure called the astronaut, I'm not sure what to think. One of its hands points to the sky, another to the ground. His owlish eyes stare intomine. Look at me, the 1,500-year-old seems to say.
Can you solve my mystery?For hundreds of years, the Nasca people created lines on the ground. Some form familiar figures: a spider, hummingbird and dog. Others -- a whale, monkey and parrot -- don't belong in the desert at all.
The only way
to see the Nasca Lines is from the air. That makes them even more
mysterious. How did pre-Inca people make these images without being
able to fly? And what was the point of forming lines if they couldn't
appreciate their glory? The lines weren't even discovered until 1929,
when a pilot flew over the area and was astonished to see eyes looking
up at him.
Thanks to the ancients, the
town of Nasca now has a veritable air force: More than a dozen
companies fly planes over the lines. The tours are an industry,as
indicated by the handwritten sign taped to my plane's instrument
console. ''Tips are welcome,'' it says in six languages.
Not bad for a dusty desert
town of about 20,000, a six-hour bus ride south of Lima. The modern
city of Nasca, a place that gets less than an inch of rain a year, owes
its prosperity to the mysterious markings. Statues inspired by the
desert figures decorate the town plaza. Sketches of the lines are
everywhere else. Elongated hummingbirds mark store signs, while a
lizard graces City Hall. On sidewalks, brass inlays of a monkey and
spider reflect the sun.
But the lines might have
been forgotten without Maria Reiche. She came to Peru from Germany in
the 1930s as a tutor and eventually dedicated her life to documenting
the creations. For years, she surveyed the area, measuring the markings
and pondering theirmeaning.
''To the lo......
Peru's ancient spiral-tailed monkey is losing its tail. Extensive high-resolution aerial photos of the famed Nazca Lines taken by Peru's air force showed destruction Thursday that conservationists have long feared. Tire tracks and disregard for the site are irreparably scarring the mysterious lines and animal figures that a pre-Columbian civilization etched into a 56-kilometre stretch of Peru's southern desert centuries ago. In the first comprehensiveaerial photos taken by Peru'...Japanese researchers find new giant picture on Peru's Nazca Plateau
A new giant picture on the Nazca Plateau in Peru, which is famous for giant patterns that can be seen from the air, has been discovered by a team of Japanese researchers.The image is 65 meters long, and appears to be an animal with horns. It is thought to have been drawn as a symbol of hopes for good crops, but there are no similar patterns elsewhere, and the type of the animal remains unclear. The discovery marks the first time since the 1980s that a picture other than a geometrical...Archaeologist finds ancient Nasca iron ore mine
A purdue university archaeologist discovered an intact ancient iron ore mine in South America that shows how civilizations before the Inca Empire were mining this valuable ore. "Archaeologists know people in the Old and New worlds have mined minerals for thousands and thousands of years," said Kevin J. Vaughn, an assistant professor of anthropology who studies the Nasca civilization, which existed from A.D. 1 to A.D. 750. "Iron mining in the Old World, specifically in Africa, goes back 40,000 ye...Peru's Nazca lines under threat
A tiny, hand-painted sign mounted on a flimsy barbed wire fence warns visitors to Peru's Nazca lines: "No entry. Area off-limits." It's not much of a deterrent. The latest threat to the vast U.N. World Heritage site where the enigmatic shapes and lines, stylized figures of birds and animals were etched in the desert some 2,000 years ago, is a camp of around 30 shacks that appeared in August. The rudimentary straw-matting huts are pitched in the dry earth on the fringe of a prot...New Nazca line picture discovered
A new giant picture on the Nazca Plateau in Peru, which is famous for giant patterns that can be seen from the air, has been discovered by a team of Japanese researchers. The image is 65 meters long, and appears to be an animal with horns. It is thought to have been drawn as a symbol of hopes for good crops, but there are no similar patterns elsewhere, and the type of the animal remains unclear.The discovery marks the first time since the 1980s that a picture other than a geometrical pattern has...Heavy rains alter Peru's famed Nazca Lines
They don't look much from the ground. But these are the Nasca Lines: one of Peru's top tourist attractions. These giant figures that are etched in the desert are so large they can only fully be appreciated from the sky. Every year around 80,000 people fly over them, marvelling at images like the monkey with its curly tail or the delicately-carvedhummingbird. Nobody knows exactly why the Nasca people carved hundreds of lines and dozens of figures over 1,000 years ago, but there has been ...Two new geoglyphs found in Nazca
Scientists have identified two new geoglpyhs of a human head and an animal in Nazca, Peru.Situated close to the Nazca Lines the new geoglyphs are thought to have been missed previously due to their small sizes of between three and four metres in length. The team had previously uncovered almost one hundred glyphs carved in to thedesert in 2006. The newgeoglyphs depict a human head and an animal figure that the researchers have yet to identify, state news agency Andina reported. . ...Nazca photographs deepen mystery
The Nazca Lines have been a source of mystery and dispute since their discovery in southern Peru nearly a century ago. So why should the latest find be any different? Japanese enthusiasts recently released new aerial photographs of figures etched in the ground of the Nazca region, adding a fresh dollop of wonder to the giant geometric patterns and animal drawings that scientists say the Nazca Indians created as many as 2,000 years ago. Peruvian officials expressed excitement about the announceme...Priests may have designed Nazca lines
High priests at an ancient religious compound in southern Peru may have designed the mysterious Nazca lines, a set of huge geometric patterns, animal figures and long lines etched in the desert, the area's top archaeologist said. Researchers say the Cahua-chi compound, built in 400 B.C., is just across the Nazca Valley from the lines, one of Peru's most popular tourist attractions and a U.N. World Heritage site. "It islogical to think that the Nazca people's religious beliefs or...