Nazca Lines

The Nazca (sometimes spelled Nasca) Lines are an ancient man-made feature of the high desert in southern Peru. The lines were created by the Nazca people during the first 700 years CE. The desert is extremely arid, with under an inch of rain per year. The dryness has preserved the Lines. The desert floor features exposed rocks that have acquired a dark-colored patina, often called “desert varnish.” This is key in understanding the Lines. They were created by moving the covering material and exposing a much lighter-colored undersurface. This creates high contrast. The Nazca people used this method to create very large complex figures in outline, and also to create very long lines. Some lines run straight for 30 miles. There are about 300 geometric figures, including some dozens of “biomorphs” that portray animals and plants. The best known is one that seems to represent a spider. The Lines are large in scale and are not readily visible from the ground. They were first discovered in the late 1920s. The Lines have attracted a great deal of speculation. At first, it was thought that the Lines were related to astronomy, but more recent theories suggest the lines were important in rituals involving water and rain. We simply do not know what they were used for.

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