People often draw random shapes and lines to signify something. If a child draws it, we regard it as something innocuous and attribute it to a child’s developing curiosity. But if a whole, ancient civilization displays its creativity on a barren land, it becomes a subject of mystery and a source of discovery. The Nazca lines or the random arrangement of patterns (also called geoglyphs) are found in the Nazca desert in southern Peru. The lines situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains, experience sweltering heat with just 20 minutes of rainfall each year. These lines have baffled mankind who have constantly tried to decipher what lies behind these great geometrical patterns. Various archaeologists, historians, and mathematicians, around the world, have tried to determine the purpose of the lines.
The enigma of archaeology or popularly known as the Nazca lines are considered the 8th wonder of the world and were designated as the UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 1994.
Ever since their discovery in the 1920s with the arrival of the first planes, did people begin to notice these extraordinary designs and what they were trying to say? Eduardo Herren, one of the prominent commercial pilots and a Nazca specialist in Peru who has been flying visitors over the Nazca lines for the past 26 years, has discovered over 324 lines in the 12,000 flight hours spent till now. Most researchers who have come to see the Nazca lines mull over the reason as to why did the Nazca people built these giant figures which could be seen only through the air and at that point in time when there were no flight mechanisms. Some people believe it was for extraterrestrials because the Nazca people were of the opinion that they were born in distant constellations and these patterns were a sign meant for their ancestors millions of light years away. But even after years of research, nothing has been proven sure shot.
The geoglyphs, due to their size and dimensions have generated a lot of interest in the visitors. They consist of a hummingbird which is the size of a football field, a monkey, a spider which is about 200 yards across, a giant human, a pair of hands and many more in counting. Many archeologists have put forward a theory about these giant figures. They say that the ancient Nazca people were segregated into small groups and each group worshipped their own god, which is the reason as to why they drew these giant designs. Also, other historians research points out to the fact that these Nazca lines were a source of water that connected beneath a huge irrigation system to support the agricultural practices in Peru, given the arid climate and scanty rainfall. However, nothing has been scientifically proven till date.
There’s always a name that strikes the mind when something related to Nazca lines comes up, Maria Reiche, a German woman, who studied the Nazca lines for 60 years until her death in 1998. Her research throws light on how these Nazca people built these immense designs. About millions of years ago, a volcanic eruption occurred on this place and brought with it the debris consisting of rocks and pebbles. The Nazca people used a very simple but logical method of spreading these stones and pebbles to create the design, which is very clearly visible from the air and gets blurred when seen from the ground. These complex designs were built using simple tools and basic geometry techniques.
After going through much observation, one might ponder as for how have these lines lasted for so many years? The sand here has a high level of gypsum in it which gets dampened at the night and glues the pebbles to the ground. Also, since it’s a desert area, the stones absorb much heat during the day which creates a layer of warm air above the design preventing it from being carried away by strong winds. These are pretty good and rational reasons that suffice the permanent stay of the designs.
With the advancement in the scientific technologies in the decades, people have found out some missing links to the incessant mystery but still after decades of research to find those missing links to the Nazca lines, the question still persists, ‘who drew them and why?