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The Mystery of the Nazcas Lines, Peru

Updated: Sep 16

Nazcas lines: how, for whom and why, theories. Also discover the Nazca necropolis.

Around the middle of the 20th century, a group of aviators discovered mysterious lines and drawings in the Nazca desert in Peru. They stretch for miles and are hundreds of meters long. What were they used for? Why were they drawn?

Les lignes Nazcas : Le Condor (136 mètres )
The Nazcas Lines: The Condor (136 meters)

We often hear about the Incas because they were the greatest pre-Columbian empire in history. But many other ancient civilizations are to be discovered in South America, and, in 2019, I really wanted to focus more on those that I had not had time to discover in 2014 during my first visit to Peru.

Among others, there is the Nazca civilization which existed even before the Incas, between -200 and 600 after our era. It is extremely famous for its geoglyphs, these incredible lines and figures traced in the desert which exceed 100 meters in length. A still unsolved mystery of our History! It is absolutely necessary to go and see these drawings of superhuman size. The theory on these lines, visible only from a bird's eye view, is still unexplained today. Why did the Nazca create them? For who? But above all, how?

how ?

The first people who flew over the Nazcas Lines in the middle of the 20th century (1950-60) by plane were amazed by their number and obviously by their wingspan. A careful survey of the area then began. The researchers discovered pottery with drawings, some of which strongly resemble those that we can observe from the sky, which came to explain the choice of drawings, which were probably deities for the Nazcas. The Nazca desert has two types of stone: one a little more brownish, and another whitish that we find by digging a little. Over the years, the wind would have covered the drawings drawn by the peoples by the brownish stone. The researchers attempted to reproduce the technique that these people would have used to draw these lines in the desert, and, with a few stakes and strings, the works of art came back to life, now protected.

Archaeologists would then have solved half the mystery by the how, but they still lack the function.

Les Lignes Nazcas : l'Araignée (46 mètres)
The Nazcas Lines: the Spider (46 meters)

Theories - for whom and why?

Some believe that extraterrestrials would have drawn these lines as a landmark. There is even a drawing that strongly resembles an astronaut, how can this be possible? Questions and doubts really arise when looking at this drawing.

Nazcas Lines: The Astronaut (32 meters)

Locals instead believe that their ancestors were smart enough to design these works of art. The most probable reason, and according to archaeologists, would be that the Nazcas designed these lines for a religious question, indeed. Peoples believing in natural deities, they asked the universe for water because Nazca has always been an arid region. This is what had pushed them to dig the ground to find water and the archaeological site of the aqueducts of Nazca proves it well. There is also another theory that says that the drawings are actually landmarks, but to remember the underground water currents discovered by the Nazcas. Some designs look like animals yes, but others are geometric shapes that may well prove this last theory.

Lignes Nazcas : Les trapèzes
Nazcas Lines: The Trapezoids

Celestial gods have always played an important role among the peoples of South America, and perhaps the lines are a canvas for what ended up in the stars. Locals can still identify these constellations which are part of their deep beliefs. The last theory put forward to finalize this chapter would be that the drawings, wide enough on the ground to create a path, could have been used to perform religious ceremonies.

Les lignes Nazcas : Le Singe (110 mètres)
The Nazcas Lines: The Monkey (110 meters)

Another site of interest: the necropolis of Nazca (cemeterio Chauchilla)

nécropole de Nazca (cemeterio Chauchilla)
Nazca necropolis (cemeterio Chauchilla)

With the discovery of the Nazca lines, it was not only archaeologists who started digging. 30 minutes from the city of Nazca is its necropolis, a site sadly popular because of grave robbers who dug up the mummies to sell the valuables to tourists and collectors at high prices. Today, the government has decided to turn it into a rather intriguing museum… We would never have believed that it was possible to observe mummies in their open graves.

Momie de la Nécropole de Nazca (cemeterio Chauchilla)
Mummy in the Nazca Necropolis (cemeterio Chauchilla)

Momies de la Nécropole de Nazca (cemeterio Chauchilla)
Mummies in the Nazca Necropolis (cemeterio Chauchilla)

But the most unimaginable was yet to come. Our guide, to explain to us how badly the tombs had been ransacked, began to play the archaeologist and to dig up bones and pieces of fabric scattered in the desert, just a few steps from the tombs of the exhibition.

Honestly, I still don't know what to think of all this, but sometimes you shouldn't ask yourself too many questions!

The ancestors of this region also worshiped the sun like the Incas, and I had a little inner smile when he told us that all the mummies were buried sitting facing the dawn...because the film I was filming then was called ''AURORA''!

Partie de la carte des Lignes Nazcas, Pérou
Part of the Nazca Lines Map, Peru

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