Home > Places of Interest > Nazca Lines and the Nazca Culture

Nazca Lines and the Nazca Culture

By: Grahame Johnston - Updated: 29 Nov 2014 | comments*Discuss
Nazca Lines Peru Lima Inca Subterranean

Nazca is a regional district of Peru some 200 miles south of Lima on the Pacific coast. In the Peruvian desert there lies an extensive plain between the Inca and Nazca valleys. Nazca is the name usually associated with the system of geological river valleys running from the Andes to the sea although there is the city of Nazca, which is the region’s largest extant population centre.

The Ancient Nazca Culture

Nazca has also come to mean the cultural group or even the civilisation that flourished in this Peruvian district for about 1100 years from 300 BC to AD 800. It was during this period that the famous Nazca Lines were constructed along with impressive subterranean aqueducts that are still used today for the conveyance of water.

Discovering the Lines

Criss-crossed all over the 37 mile long plain at Nazca are an assortment of geometrically straight lines, some running parallel, others crossing over and intersecting other lines. This outstanding geometric ground form remained undiscovered until the early 1930s when it was noticed by the first aerial flights over the area during aerial survey work to locate water sources.

The Nazca lines are an attractive and amazing feature. Not only are there perfectly straight lines criss-crossing all over the plain like giant, elaborate, airport landing runways, but there are trapezoidal zones, pictures and animals, such as birds and beasts, as well as indistinguishable symbols.

The remarkable aspect of these creations of the Nazca culture is that they can only be recognised from high in the air. For more than one thousand years since the Nazca people ceased their cultural ways the desert plain has been walked over from north to south by its inhabitants yet the secrets of the lines and symbols have all remained silently underfoot, unnoticed from ground level.

Archaeological Geoglyphs

These large drawings on the surface of the earth are known as geoglyphs but they make no sense at all to those who view them from the ground. Aerial archaeology, involving aerial photography and mapping, has brought the recognition of several kinds of animal figures – monkeys, birds, fish – even a whale, as well as insect forms such as spiders and a variety of plants. Aerial observation has shown that the lines continue along the ground for more than 800 miles.

What Was Their Purpose?

The science fiction writer, Erich von Daniken suggested that they were landing strips for alien spacecraft. However, the geology of the desert floor cannot support this theory, as it is simple soft earth unable to accept the fast moving weight of any sizeable aircraft.

Like so many unusual structures of antiquity they are often attributed as being astronomically significant. However, an American astronomer, Gerald Hawkins, debunked this theory by using computer probability analysis to see if the lines matched any ancient astronomical event or coincided with major celestial elements. His conclusions found that the lines demonstrated no distinct patterning to the cosmos.

Using experimental archaeology the British explorer, Tony Morrison, observed that the old folk customs of the Andes Mountain people demonstrated an unusual and pertinent tradition. His research discovered that the mountain people would travel from shrine to shrine in direct straight paths praying as they walked. A straight, direct path, similar to the patterns found at Nazca, linked each shrine, which could be nothing more than a carefully grouped pile of stones or more elaborate structures. Morrison has concluded that the Nazca lines could have been used during religious or ceremonial occasions.

A Community Project

The Nazca lines and the animal, insect, and human geoglyphs formed in the red soils of the Pampa Colorada is a project that required a great number of people, although not necessarily highly trained, as the work could be undertaken using simple tools. However, the extent of the project is such that there can be little doubt as to it being a communal undertaking and possibly took many years to achieve.

No one will really know if this magnificent site was the religious ‘Jerusalem’ of the Nazca. It has become an important archaeological discovery that is shared with thousands of visitors annually. The best view of archaeological Nazca is still from far above the site in an aeroplane.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
The glyph now known as "The Hands" is a frog. The glyph known as "The Astronaut" is an ape. The Ancients left markers all over this planet as messages. They were huge, they were the giants of mythology & they were technologically advanced. The glyphs could have been made from hot air balloon-type conveyances dragging a type of anchor-plow thru the landscape or they would have dragged something themselves. The glyphs represent all the lands they traveled where the animal or plant or insect depicted is the dominant characteristic of that area. I believe the spirals depict two journeys made around the world &/or possibly two henges or known ancient labyrinth locations (Ancient Troy or Greece?). It might be possible to match the glyphs with the oldest ruins, as one of the glyphs (The Shells?) may represent Macchu Picchu. The Mushroom either depicts the mushroom rock formations in the southern US or a land of mushrooms (possibly peyote or other). The Hummingbird would represent some tropical area. The land of the condor could be western SA or western US. They would have traveled around the globe by boat/ship & the Giza Plateau would have been a dry-dock for ship maintenance (reference ship found buried in sand by Great Pyramid). The pyramid gates were water release gates,as they would have drained water away from the area. Pyramids, etc. have been modified by man. They were here first & we are their progeny. The Sphinx was originally a lion facing Leo & marking the gateway to the land of the lion (outstanding figure of area). You have to imagine the water levels were higher, poles may have been melted due to planet turmoil. I think it's highly likely they came from what was the fifth planet in this system, which was destroyed by their race's carelessness with their technology, similar to what we are doing with antimatter & particle physics. They would have been refugees here & their space conveyance may have been cannibalized for tools or materials &/or may be buried under several feet of dirt. The oldest ruins are older than carbon dating suggests & modern man has built over many of them or emulated what was not originally his work, but theirs. The Tibetan Plateau is the Eye of Ra, the tear is marking north with the Himalayas as brow, etc. This is the most visible planet feature from space. Should be translated as the Center of Creation or Beginning of Life (as we know it). They would have preferred higher elevations (possible atmospheric/pressure concerns) & caves or underground dwelling as they were originally farther from the Sun on their home world. They also would have held themselves apart from us as we were changing & developing & because our numbers would have been far greater than theirs. I cannot ascertain whether there were two or three individuals who landed here & whether all made the ocean journeys - first one to establish species & primary developments, second to ensure survival & advanced developments. Mayan Calendar was one of thei
gemmeri - 29-Nov-14 @ 8:20 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Mpole
    Re: Types of Archaeology
    Hello, am Mpolerane undergraduate from Kyambogo university Uganda archaeology is one of my course unit but I like it so much
    8 October 2019
  • Robbie
    Re: Being Aware of Fake Archaeological Artefacts
    I looked on eBay for Roman rings and jewelry, a few year's ago, I bought a ring which was genuine but lost it…
    4 October 2019
  • Robbie
    Re: Being Aware of Fake Archaeological Artefacts
    I looked on eBay for Roman rings and jewelry, a few year's ago, I bought a ring which was genuine but lost it…
    4 October 2019
  • Excavation!!
    Re: Be a Volunteer Archaeologist
    It’s totally true that volunteer excavation experiences are sold like vacation packages. Do not be fooled, I had the good luck an…
    1 October 2019
  • Tim
    Re: Pottery Experts
    I have something i need to i identified i have a picture or it where can i send the picture
    22 September 2019
  • MMY
    Re: Be a Volunteer Archaeologist
    I would loke to volunteer and join excavations in Saidi Arabia. I am a tour guide and an explorer. I can work in desert and…
    22 September 2019
  • Thicketdweller
    Re: Stone Tool Experts
    I have seen a price guide book , the books origin was the 2006 Paragould, Arkansas , 1st annual, artifacts show . This book had ancient…
    18 September 2019
  • Shiloh Noone
    Re: Pottery Experts
    Hi recently found an old clay-pot in the Sahara, wetness dissipates by the count of five and the ochre paint cannot come off with acetone that is…
    16 September 2019
  • Chiu
    Re: Academic Qualifications to Be An Archaeologist
    Sir /madam, I had completed my BA B.ed ( English Literature ) and am working as a teacher in school but…
    13 September 2019
  • Chiu
    Re: Academic Qualifications to Be An Archaeologist
    Sir /Madam, I had completed my BA in (English Literature ) and am BA B.ed student working as a teacher in…
    13 September 2019