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Published: April 11th 2008
and here's a nicer photo of the spider
They were not discovered until the airplane was invented and man flew high above them, the Nazca Lines in Peru are a mystery that has yet to be explained by modern science...
Are they evidence of an advanced early civilization that history never recorded? Are they proof that early man had contact with extraterrestrials? Is it a giant scientific or mathematic equation? Did UFOs once land in a remote corner of South America? To this day, the famous Nazca Lines in southern Peru pose more questions than answers. They are one of history’s more intriguing puzzles.
Sixty years ago, Nazca was a dusty small town in the middle of the desert south of Lima. (OK, Nazca is still a dusty town in the middle of the desert south of Lima, but now it's bigger and is a major tourist attraction.) The locals had long known of some of the ancient piles of stones outside of town on the flat desert plain, but they didn’t know they were in the middle of what would become one of the world’s great mysteries.
That all changed in 1939 when Paul Kosok, a water irrigation scientist from the United
this is probably the best of all my photos of the lines
States, was flying over the region in a small plane. From his vantage point in the sky, he was the first person to look down and see the unusual lines in the desert. At first, Kosok believed that the lines outlined an ancient irrigation system. But then he made another pass of the area and noticed that one line pointed directly to the setting sun. By an unusual twist of fate, the day Kosok flew over Nazca was the summer solstice. He later called Nazca “the biggest astronomy book in the world.”
The Nazca Lines have now been photographed and videotaped thousands of times. While there are hundreds of perfectly straight lines, not all of the Nazca Lines are lines at all. The most intriguing designs are of animals, some up to 1,000 feet wide. The most famous is probably the monkey, with its curled tail. Other designs include a spider, condor, hummingbird, whale and dog.
So why were the lines built?
There have been many different theories and scores of books and papers written about the Nazca pampa. But, to this day, no one can say with certainty why they were built. It only fuels the
what I thought would be my 3-seater plane
mystery and leaves visitors intrigued.
The leading explanations:
-- lifetime Nazca Lines researcher, Maria Reiche, concluded that the designs represented an astronomical calendar (the monkey was the ancient symbol for the Big Dipper, for example) and were messages sent to the gods.
-- Erich von Daniken’s 1968 book “Chariots of the Gods” suggested that Nazca was made as a landing strip for visitors from outer space.
-- Some lines point to mountain peaks and sunset points, suggesting an historical reference of some kind.
-- Others believe the straight lines were used in running competitions, to map underground irrigation canals or to link sacred sites in the desert.
I had arrived in Nazca at 6am via a hair-raising night bus from Arequipa. How I managed to get any sleep is beyond me as the driver seemed to feel it necessary to take every turn at break-neck speeds. Ordinarily I wouldn't care, but the 400 metre drop off the side of a cliff was an adventure for which I hadn't planned to participate. It was my last night-bus of the trip, I didn't want it to be my last bus EVER.
the monkey (googled image)
here's a super-clear image of the monkey
had booked a short flight in a tiny 5-seater prop-plane to appreciate the Nazca Lines to their fullest. The etched figures range from simple lines and trapezoids, to complex figures of monkeys, hummingbirds, dogs, spiders and even an astronaut. Due to their immense size you really need to see them from the air in order to recognise the figures, so that's what I did. The flight lasted about 30 minutes (involving some stomach flipping turns in the plane to ensure everyone got a good view) and in that time we flew over all of the main figures. They were somewhat difficult to spot at first, but eventually I became quite adept at finding the images etched into the sand. Because it barely rains in the desert, there is little erosion, but still, the figures are disappearing bit by bit, and many are crisscrossed with tire tracks that will likely stay for centuries too. I've heard that the rains of the last El Nino did considerable damage to many of the figures as well.
It was definitely interesting to see but I was feeling nauseous after the first 10 minutes or so. Busily trying to focus on the horizon during
the hard-bank turns while simultaneously trying to take pictures of the faint images was a task that proved quite difficult. Most of my photos just look like desert, but some turned out ok. I will at some point try to enhance the contrast so the lines show up a bit better. I've included a couple of stock photos that I found on the net with much clearer images. At the end of it all I was actually somewhat disappointed as I guess I'd expected more ... that's a bit rare for me as I usually go in with such low-expectations that it's virtually impossible to be disappointed.
As there isn't much else to do in Nazca, I hopped on a chicken-bus bound for Ica and followed that with a much nicer bus bound for Lima. By late-afternoon I was safely checked-in to the Flying Dog Hostel in Miraflores and headed out for a well-deserved beer.
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