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 much speculation. German mathematician Maria Reich spent half a century protecting the site, which she believed was a giant astronomical calendar. One of the more outlandish theories suggests the lines were meant as a landing strip for alien spacecraft. From the air, their fragility is obvious. Dried-out ditches skirt some of the figures, wherepast rains have forced paths through the desert.Alberto Urbano is the only state-employed archaeologist working at the Nasca Lines. Standing by a sprawling, putrid rubbish tip, he said nature wasn't the only threat.
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