Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines

Archaeological Places of PeruNazca Lines, some of the world’s most famous geoglyphs can be seen in the arid San José plains on the southern bank of the Ingenio river. On the barren, dry plain, the Nazcas, but also more recent occupants, carved geometric figures and animal silhouettes in a gigantic scale that has not been replicated elsewhere on Earth.

Location of Nazca Lines: Pampas de San José, 25 Km (16 miles) from Nazca city (15 minutes), between the Kilometer markers 419 and 465 on the South Pan-American Highway of Peru.

Nazca Lines a World Herirage Site

Declared as World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO (1994)

The geoglyphs of Nazca and the pampas of Jumana cover about 450 Km² . These lines, which were scratched on the surface of the ground between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500, are among archaeology's greatest enigmas because of their quantity, nature, size and continuity. The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometres long. They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.

In general terms the geoglyphs fall into two categories: the first group (of which about 70 have been identified) are representational, depicting in schematic form a variety of natural forms. Many of these are animals, birds, insects, and other living creatures: examples include the spider, the monkey, the guanay or guano bird, the lizard, the hummingbird, the killer whales, and the largest of all, the pelican (285 m). Stylistically they can be linked closely with motifs on other representational art of the period, such as pottery and textiles. Other figures represent flowers, plants, and trees, deformed or fantastic figures (strange creature with two human hands, one with only four fingers), and objects of everyday life, such as looms and tupus (ornamental clasps). There are very few anthropomorphic figures, for the most part paralleled by the petroglyphs to be found in the more rocky parts of the region and are considered to be early in date.

Nazca Lines, some of the world’s most famous geoglyphs

An enormous network of lines and drawings of animals and plants, attributed to the Nazca culture, covering an area of approximately 350 Km² (135 sq. miles). Some of the best drawings depict hummingbirds, dogs, monkeys and "chaucato", long-tailed mockingbirds.

Mysterious figures drawn between 550 and 650 AD by the Nazca settlers, were discovered accidentally from an airplane in flight in 1927.

Representations of spiders, hummingbirds, monkeys, reptiles, fish and other beings cover more than 1,000 square kilometers, some around 300 meters long, like the guanay bird (280 meters) and the pelican (285 meters). Among the human figures, the most enigmatic is that known as the extraterrestrial. Innumerable figures crisscross the plain, sometimes 30 meters wide and up to 9 Km long.

How these figures were made has been explained quite well. The desert is covered by a reddish film of dirt that has remained stable for thousands of years thanks to the absence of strong winds and erosion. Under this cover, the soil is light yellow. This allowed the Nazcas to draw these large figures on the plain by simply removing the reddish film, generally a few centimeters thick, until they achieved a remarkable effect of light lines over a dark backdrop.

The design of figures at scale does not seem to have been a substantial problem if we consider that the methods of using grid patterns to design textile motifs, and laying out the ground to build temples and canals were arts which the peoples of Ica had known for long and at which they excelled. However, the meaning of these enormous representations is the subject of ongoing debate.

The Nazca Lines were investigated scientifically for the first time by the Prof. German Paul Kosok, along with the Peruvian archeologists Julio C. Tello and T. Mejía Xesspe, denominated these lines as 'the biggest astronomy book of the world '. María Scholten carried out investigations to determine the mathematical unit of measure that was used in the construction.

Their main investigator was Maria Reiche, the German mathematician that studied them for more than 50 years, the lines were a gigantic agricultural and religious calendar. Others hold that they were just ritual paths. More recently, some hold that figures were a sort of “hydraulic map” of the valley. In any case, carving the Nazca lines was possible only through the joint action of peoples brought together by religion and faith. See Maria Reiche Site Museum

Historical Description
Intensive study of the geoglyphs and comparison with other manifestations of contemporary art forms suggests that they can be divided into three chronological phases.

The first dates from the Chavin period (500 - 300 BC) and is characterized by the technique of forming figures by piling stones. This was an important period for cultural developments in the Andean region, with strong influence exerted in the lea region from the north by the Formative Middle Late Culture.

The local development known as Paracas represents the second phase (400 - 200 BC), again strongly influenced from the north. The town of Paracas adapted its culture skillfully to its severe geographical location and>achieved a high level of artistic development.

The third phase, which represents the great majority of the geoglyphs, is the Nazca phase proper (200 BC-AD 500). The Nazca culture derived directly from that of Paracas. The Andean towns developed a powerful religious system which produced, along with Moche on the northern coast of Peru, an outstanding culture represented by its handicrafts (notably pottery) and textiles. Most of the geoglyphs of this period are located close to villages of this culture, such as La Quebrada del Frayle, Cahuachi, Palpa, and lngenio, concentrated in Pampa de Jumana.



Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines Overflight

The best way to appreciate the lines is to get a bird's-eye view from overflight.

From the airfield of Nazca city you can take a flight over the lines.

There are several companies that offer the flights over the Nazca Lines, some start their flights from the airfield of Nazca city, Paracas (Pisco) or Ica. Normally the flight from Nazca lasts 30 minutes and 45 minutes if includes the Palpa Lines. The small aircrafts are specially designed with large panoramic windows and good comfort to take great pictures and audio-guide.

It is advisable to have an advance reservation, which you can reach at Nazca and no place to get the flight, specially in high season.

If you visit Nazca from Lima, and book the earliest bus service you can overflight the Nazca Lines and then continue your trip to Cuzco by bus (15 hours) or go directly to Arequipa (8 hours). These bus trips are at night and thus you will gain a day if you do not return to Lima. (see tour)

Tours in Nazca

 

  • Nazca Lines

    Nazca Lines' Overflight

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Nazca Lines

    Nazca Lines

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Nazca Lines

    Nazca Lines

    © J. Mazzotti

  • Nazca Lines

    Nazca Lines

    © J. Mazzotti