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What are the mysterious Nazca lines?

“The Spider” one of the animals carved among the Nazca lines


South America has been home for multiple civilizations and cultures. One of these cultures is the Nazca culture (100 B.C.E – 800 C.E), that was preceded and highly influenced by the Paracas culture and occupied a system of valleys in the south coast of Peru including the Nazca Valley, which served as the canvas for the Nazca Lines — giant drawings portraying various animals such as spider, dog, eagle, etc., as well as plants, humans and other simple shapes. According to archaeologists, these lines were carved by the Nazca people on dry land, by removing the reddish-brown upper part of the soil exposing a yellow-grey lower part.

Discovery of the Nazca lines.

Scientists believe that these geoglyphs were drawn in the area between 500 B.C.E and 500 C.E by the Nazca people and other cultures as well. The first mention of these carvings was in the 1500s by the travelers who have been there. They described them as remains of old roads, but they still weren’t widely known until 1930, when they were spotted by civilian and military Peruvian aircrafts, and were listed by UNESCO as World Heritage in 1994 for their importance and ambiguity.

The figures of the Nazca lines

“The Hummingbir” another animal carved among the Nazca lines

Nazca’s drawings are very large, and surprisingly, a single geoglyph spans between 0.4 and 1.1 km (0.2 and 0.7 mi) diameter-wise, and the lines are mostly 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) deep and 30.5cm ~ 1.8m (1 ~ 6 ft) wide, with the total length of all of them around 1300 km (800 mi).

Despite the many years, the drawings weren’t affected and kept their shapes mostly due to the dry windless weather of the isolated region.

Explanations by scientists

In several attempts by archaeologists and explorers to solve the mystery of these lines, which retain clear graphic forms in a very dry and totally naked place and are still clear despite thousands of years of passing, some scientists have suggested that they may have been drawn for astronomical purposes or for guidance on the existence of groundwater. Some of them assumed that the Nazca lines were drawn to attract the Earth’s aliens, especially since they are giant drawings with some strange figures that resemble the imaginations of aliens. They might have been painted to land their vehicles on them. Other explorers went on to say that they might have been drawn by the peoples of the ancient cultures at their religious ceremonies, as they were drawings of animals and their peoples sanctified those animals, This latter explanation is considered the most likely by the majority.

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