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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Nov, 30 2013: Nazca Lines

052a Peru Nazca lines, Monkey


Situated in Peru's coastal desert, about 400 km south of Lima, are a number of ancient geoglyphs the history and purpose of which is unknown.  It's thought they may have been crafted about the 5th or 6th century A.D.  These many massive geometric shapes and animal figures were etched into the rock and sand of this extremely dry coastal desert often by moving the rocks aside to outline the shape into the sand.  More amazing is that it's all but impossible to appreciate these shapes from the ground.  You need to be high on a hill or preferably flying over them to appreciate their extent and complexity.


Why would an ancient culture design such symbols?  Probably for spiritual purposes.  Years ago, author Erick von Daniken proposed they were designed to hail or welcome back alien astronauts in his book 'The Chariots of the Gods'.  Von Daniken's theory created a media stir way back when, but the theory didn't have much staying power.


Like much of the ancient world we'll never know the motives and purposes of people living back then.  But that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy seeing this odd curiosity when traveling in Peru in the 21st century.  It's a desirable attraction as the Nazca lines are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.  You'll need to charter a small aircraft, not that expensive as the flight's aren't long and don't go too high, and in about 15 minutes you'll be flying over the lines with the pilots pointing out the different shapes and figures.


The Nazca desert is one of the driest places in the world.  There are spots here where rain doesn't fall for centuries, but in 2007 a very heavy rain did hit the area.  Fortunately the rain did not spoil these unusual works of desert art.


Images (2)
  • Nazca lines,  Peru.  Aerial view of "the Monkey"
  • Nazca lines, Peru.  Aerial view of geometric shapes and a spider

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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