In Peru, between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, one of the most popular archaeological mysteries of all time is located. In this desert there is a set of gigantic geoglyphs only visible from a certain height, which form animal, human and geometric figures. They were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and 600 AD and since archaeologists began to study them in the XNUMXs, dozens of theories about their origin and meaning have emerged, although they remain a mystery.
The Nazca lines are a national treasure for Peru and they guard it with zeal. However, Nazca is not safe from all the dangers that threaten it. Any footfall in the area, due to the material and the weather conditions, remains marked for thousands of years and any real damage produced is irreparable.
Unfortunately, the lack of awareness about the sensitivity of the place in recent years has led to a series of actions that have seriously harmed Nazca.
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The damages produced on Nazca
The newest and most destructive of them occurred last January, when a driver from a transport company accessed the Nazca Pampas despite the signs that warned otherwise and caused terrible damage. at the archaeological site in an area of approximately 100 meters. As a result, deep traces have been left on the ground that have affected three of the thousand-year-old figures drawn in the sand.
Apparently the man was unaware of the patrimonial condition of the area and entered the Nazca Pampas because his vehicle had a tire problem. However, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture reported that it will criminally denounce the driver in a statement.
But the Nazca Lines had already been damaged before. In 2014, during the UN Climate Conference held in Lima, activists from the Greenpeace organization entered the area and, in the area where the hummingbird geoglyph is, they placed several giant letters with the message “It's time to make a change! The future is renewable. Greenpeace. " only visible from the sky. Following the uproar, Greenpeace tried to apologize for the damage to the site, which was already irreparable.
A year later, in September 2015, a subject accessed the place and wrote his name in one of the geoglyphs. The man was detained by the vigilantes in charge of protecting Nazca and was turned over to the prosecution.
The hypotheses about Nazca, what is its origin?
At first, archaeologists thought that the Nazca lines were only simple paths, but over time other theories gained strength that maintained that "places of worship" were created to please the god of heights.
Today we know that the Nazca inhabitants created the geoglyphs by removing the stones from the surface so that the white sandstone underneath could be seen. In addition, thanks to several researchers from Yamagata University in Japan, we know that there are four different types of figures that tend to group together on different routes with the same destination: the pre-Inca city of Cahuachi. Today only one pyramid remains standing, but during its heyday it was a first-rate pilgrimage center and capital of the Nazca culture.
According to Japanese archaeologists, the Nazca figures were built by at least two different cultures with different techniques and symbolisms, which can be seen in the geoglyphs that trace the path from their area of origin to the city of Cahuachi.
They also discovered that the drawings changed notably in the region closest to the Nazca Valley and the route that goes from there to Cahuachi. In that area there is a different style of images, characterized above all by showing supernatural beings and heads as if they were trophies. A third group of geoglyphs probably formed by both groups is found on the Nazca plateau, the space that is halfway between both cultures.
According to Japanese archaeologists, the use of Nazca figures changed over time. At first they were created for purely ritual reasons, but later they were placed along the road that led to Cahuachi. Contrary to what some think, apparently these figures were not used to mark the pilgrimage path, since it should already be well marked, but to animate the views, also giving it a ritual sense.
However, many more people have tried to give an answer to the meaning of the Nazca lines and there are several theories about their origin. The mathematician María Reiche influenced Paul Kosok by venturing the hypothesis that these drawings had an astronomical meaning. The archaeologists Reindel and Isla have excavated more than 650 sites and have managed to trace the history of the culture that generated these drawings. The supply of water was very important in the region since it is a desert. The drawings formed a ritual landscape whose purpose must have been to promote the invocation of the water gods. Archaeologists have discovered strings and stakes with which these people traced the drawings.
What do the Nazca Lines represent?
The Nazca drawings are geometric and figurative. Within the figurative group we find animals: birds, monkeys, spiders, a dog, an iguana, a lizard and a snake.
Almost all the drawings were made on a flat surface and there are only a few on the slopes of the hills. Almost all the figures that are placed in them represent human figures. Some are crowned by three or four vertical lines that perhaps represent the feathers of a ceremonial headdress (some Peruvian mummies wore headdresses of gold and feathers).