The Nazca Lines of Peru

The Nazca Lines are known as a series of ancient geoglyphs situated in the Nazca Desert in the southern part of Peru. Labeled as “Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca and Pampas de Jumana” on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this area showcases hundreds of individual line formations that vary from simple lines to intricately illustrated fish, spiders, birds, and even lizards. These have been done by removing the reddish layer of pebbles and exposing the grayish or whitish ground underneath.

The largest figures in the Nazca Lines are more than six hundred feet across. While there are varying interpretations on what the designs are for, it has been generally accepted that these have been created for their religious significance.

Frozen in Time

Due to their location, which is approximately 400 kilometers south of Lima, the Nazca Lines have been naturally preserved because of the windless and dry climate of the plateau. Some isolated weather disturbances may alter the designs, but amazingly, they return to their natural appearance after several days.

The Nazca Lines were first mentioned in print in Pedro Cieza de León’s book in 1553, but they were mislabeled as trail markers. It wasn’t until Toribio Xesspe, a Peruvian archaeologist, saw these lines in 1927 that they were thoroughly studied and publicized.

Contrary to the popular belief that you can only appreciate the lines when you are riding a low-flying plane, the larger ones can actually be seen atop the foothills. The mystery that surrounds these images would want you to wonder at the possibility of speaking with the people behind these illustrations and listening to the story behind these lines.

Nazca Lines. ©あこちゃい

Hypothesis of Purpose

The Nazca Lines have only received ample scientific attention and evaluation when Johan Reinhard published ethnographic, archaeological, and historical information in 1985. The illustrations were believed to be forms of worship to the mountains and water sources in the Nazca religion.

The Nazca Lines have comprised a fascinating puzzle because they cover not only the endemic animals found around the area, but also other symbols, such as an orca and large birds. It is unsurprising that even the most unlikely hypothetical claims, such as aliens and other paranormal associations, have been made.

Reinhard theorized that these figures and lines formed part of practices involving worship and religion, which can be directly associated with a bountiful harvest. However, the exact meaning of these lines is still considered unknown as of 2013.

Regardless of which association is more accurate, visitors go to see the Nazca Lines to appreciate the art and the overall surroundings.

The Nazca spider. ©Christian Haugen

An Expression to be Appreciated

Regardless of their purpose, which is still waiting to be discovered, the Nazca Lines are such an intricate expression of art that cannot go unnoticed. They show that a lack of tools will never hinder such artistic aptitude and interpretation.

Just like other ancient illustrations, the Nazca Lines offer precise art forms that resemble engravings which survive the test of time to be discovered by today’s generation. It doesn’t have color, but it does have a lot of stories to tell.

Peru is such a great country to visit. It seems like this destination has a complete package that does not limit itself to great scenes and landscapes. Instead, it tells a story to guests who would like to know more about its history, hidden treasures, and secrets waiting to be told.

Take the chance to visit Peru, and the Nazca Lines in particular. You will find yourself in an ancient marvel of art, history, and the beauty of nature molded by time and the elements.

About Author

Aleah Taboclaon is a solo traveler and freelance editor and writer. She's backpacking solo in South America for two years. Read her solo travel tales and tips in and follow her trips on Instagram (aleahphils).


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