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World Mysteries – Mysterious Nazca Lines

Updated on November 14, 2014
Nazca Lines, Peru:
Nazca Lines, Nazca, Peru

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Peruvian Desert
Peruvian Desert | Source

Peru is a country in South America. Southern part of Peru is covered by dark red surface stones and the climate of this place is extremely dry. The climate of this area not very pleasant as it rains only once in every few years and there is little wind. The people lived in this place about 1500 to 2000 years ago were called Nazca and they have their own good culture and civilization.

Many mysterious lines or geoglyphs were found in this area drawn by the ancient Nazca people and these lines are called Nazca lines. Nearly 700 geoglyphs were found so far and recently some new lines were also revealed following some sandstorms in Peru. These drawings include animals, human-like forms and geometrical patterns. In general, geoglyphs found in Peru are of two categories. First category represents natural objects such as animals, birds etc. and the second category were made of lines and shapes such as triangle, rectangles and spirals.

Hundreds of individual figures from simple lines to the pictures of different animals and birds were found among these drawings. These drawings were found in an enormous area of nearly 500 km2 of Peruvian desert.These figures are of different sizes and the largest figure found is over 660 ft. across. Since this area is almost dry and windless, the climate of this plateau was helpful to preserve these lines without much damage. But recent changes made by the population increase in these areas of Peru were resulted in the deterioration of some pictures.

The most of these lines were created between 200 BC and 500 AD. Toribio Meiia Xesspe, a Peruvian archaeologist, was the first to make a serious study about Nazca lines after examining the landscape on foot. After that, these lines were spotted by a pilot in 1939, who was flying over Peruvian coastal highlands. From that time onwards, many scientists, historians and scholars were in continuous efforts to solve the different mysteries surrounded by these geoglyphs or lines. Some mysteries such as how these lines were made by the ancient Nazca people and for what purpose these drawings were created is still remaining unsolved.

Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines
Nazca Lines | Source

How the Nazca Line Were Created?

Constructions of these huge pictures were not very easy, especially in the ancient times. Some scholars believed that Nazca people could have used some tools along with some surveying equipment to construct these lines. The lines were created by making shallow trenches of 10 to 15 cm deep by removing the iron-oxide coated pebbles that covered the surface of the desert area; then light colored clay earth will be exposed in these trenches which contains large amounts of lime. This lime, in reaction with the mist hardens to form a protective layer against the adversities of climatic conditions such as winds and soil erosion.

An archeologist named Dr. Persis B. Clarkson partially solved the problem of creation of the lines in the desert by making a straight line of 35 meters long within one and a half hours time with the help of 10 volunteers. But the work done by the ancient Nazca community was very enormous and they had created it with ample mathematical and engineering precision.

Nazca Lines in Peru
Nazca Lines in Peru | Source

Nazca Line Theories: Purpose of the Construction of the Nazca Lines

The purpose of the creation of these drawings was always a hot discussion among the historians who have made studies about Nazca lines. Many theories were put forwarded, but still a unanimous decision is not reached. Different scientists raised arguments to support their theories, but a commonly accepted theory is not originated so far. Some of the different Nazca line theories are:

Religious Purposes: The people of this ancient community were intelligent and very efficient. They were successfully engaged in the agriculture activities and were very knowledgeable about the different methods of harvesting and irrigation. But they were incapable to control the weather and other unexpected natural calamities like earthquakes, eruptions etc. Some scholars believed that these unexplainable and oversized pictures were created as a way to communicate with their gods; but there are not any proofs are available to support this argument.

Monkey Figure
Monkey Figure | Source

Since the area was very dry, Nazca people had the shortage of water for their agricultural purposes. These people had a habit of worshiping mountains and other water resources to get water as part of the religious custom. Some scholars put forward the suggestion that the geometric drawings might indicate the flow of water and the animal pictures might indicate the fertility symbols. So some scholars believed that these drawings were created to be seen by their gods in the sky.

Archeologist Johan Reinhard interpreted these lines as sacred paths leading the worshiping places of the Nazca community. He explained that the lines and drawings representing the religious practices of these people conducted for the availability of the water.

Animal Figure
Animal Figure | Source

Majority of the researchers believed that these lines were created for the purpose of completing some religious ceremony and their presentation in huge size was for the gods to see it. Since these figures were very big, the complete view of these pictures will get only from air. The mystery is that why ancient Nazca people made these large drawings which they could not be observed from the ground, but only from above?

Complete views of these pictures were not possible from the ground because of their colossal size, but they can be viewed from the nearby mountains or from air. This ancient community did not have any knowledge about the technology of flying. But some scholars believed that Nazca people might have used balloons or kites for the purpose flying; but this theory did not get wide acceptance among the historians.

Drawing of an Astronaut
Drawing of an Astronaut | Source

Astronomical and Geometrical Aspects: Some scientists and astronomers like Paul Kosok and Phyllis Pitluga proposed astronomical meaning to these lines. Paul Kosok observed that the sun setting is exactly over the end of the long single lines. He explained that keeping track of the position of the sun, moon and other stars would have enabled Nazca people to find about the weather conditions in detail for agricultural purposes.

Phyllis Pitluga performed computer aided studies of star alignments. She tried to establish that there is connection between the figures and some alignments of stars. But her analysis and theory were not widely accepted as perfect explanations.

A scientist named Marie Reiche studied about the geometrical aspects of these lines for many years, but could not produce any valuable observation of the geometrical application (as in the case of the Egyptian Pyramids) in these drawings.

Alien Interference: Alien intervention theory was put forwarded in this mystery by some sholars. The main proponent of this suggestion was Erich Von Daniken and he explained the lines are related to the landing of different space crafts from outer space. But this theory is not helpful to explain the presence of different animal drawings in the Nazca lines.

Water Marks: Nazca was an agricultural community and their main requirement was the continuous supply of water as it was very rare in this deserted area. So another logical explanation for the creation of these mammoth drawings is that they were created with geometrical perfection to mark the availability of water. The different sources of underground water in the Nazca valley were marked by using pictures and diagrams.

Top 10 Nazca Lines Figures

The Nazca Lines –‘World Heritage Site’ of UNESCO

The Nazca lines were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and the area stretches more than 80 kilometers between the towns of Nazca and Palpa about 400 km south of Lima. Many things of the past are still unknown to the modern world. We are evaluating the facts using our present knowledge. But we forgot to understand or fail to understand that many of our ancestors have more knowledge about many topics than us, though education or researches were not popular and accessible to more number of people as in our society.

These mysteries will remain unsolved till we have the capacity to think and act in the same wavelength of our ancestors. Studies will go on and more theories and explanations will publish, but some matters will then also remain unsolved, because we are unable to find logical explanation in some issues because of the differences in the social set ups.

Test Your Knowledge about Nazca Lines

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    • Austinstar profile image


      3 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      @aesta1 - You can only see them from the air. Use Google Earth and you can see them right from your computer!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have to confess my ignorance of the Nazca lines. This is very interesting and may move me more to visit Peru not just for Machu Picchu but to see these lines.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 

      3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Very interesting piece. I would have liked to have seen more maps showing more detailed locations of these lines / drawings.

    • Tom Marshal profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Marshal 

      4 years ago from India

      Thank you for this comment. I am pleased to know that you have liked my hub. Many many unsolved mysteries can be found in the world for which we cannot provide satisfactory explanations. Nazca lines are one among them. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

    • Austinstar profile image


      4 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      I have always been interested in the Nazca Lines. We don't really see these anywhere else in the world, while we se petroglyphs just about everywhere. Only in Peru do we see such giant lines and figures. I wonder why that is.


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