There are a few theories about the origin of the Nasca Lines; among the main ones, for instance, Maria Reiche was convinced that the lines represented a vast astronomical calendar used to mark the places where the sun and other celestial bodies rose and set on the horizon.
Also, the British explorer Tony Morrison found evidence of the existence of small shrines that appeared to be connected by the Nazca lines. Others have considered that the lines served as ritual centers to help the dead attain immortality or to perform religious ceremonies and rites.
Moreover, scholars believe that it was a Map of water sources and a form of worship of the water-providing deities: It has been proposed that the lines and shapes served as a map of subway water sources for those who needed supplies in the desert. Archaeologist John Reinhard also suggested that the figures symbolized the worship of the water-providing deities.
The offer of tours to know the Nasca Lines is extensive. You have a great variety of options to choose the one you like the most, such as overflights to the Nasca Lines, the combination of flight + Buggies and Sandboard, and the flight plus a visit to the Cantalloc Aqueducts.
The desert climate in the Nasca area means there are no winters with shallow temperatures. Although the lines can be visited throughout the year, the ideal time to do it is between December and March because the winds and turbulences are minimal in that season. Also, during this time of the year, the summer is warmer, allowing light and comfortable clothing to be used.
The geography of the province of Nasca is characterized by valleys and rivers (Ingenio – Changuillo, Aja, Socos, Tierras Blancas, Taruga, Trancas, and Poroma rivers), all tributaries of the Grande river basin. There are immense pampas and hills typical of the coastal desert. To the province’s east, you can appreciate gorges that give beginning to the first Andean foothills.
The place where the Nasca culture developed is a tablazo, a tectonic uplift, which in the case of the tablazo of Ica flows into the sea in the form of a low cliff. The climate is warm, rainfall is scarce, and the terrain is arid, with sandy pampas and quite porous, with numerous subway filtrations that change the course of the rivers, which on many occasions emerge several kilometers away, constituting oases.
Every year, more than one hundred thousand people visit the Nasca Lines. The lines are essential for the province of Nasca, as they generate employment and a great deal of fluidity in the local economy.
To date, more than 1,500 geoglyphs are known in the Nasca lines.
Geometric lines and figures extend over 400 square kilometers in southern Peru. The figures are up to 1.9 kilometers long, and the lines are up to 10 kilometers.
What is the history of the Nasca Lines?
The Nasca Lines are a group of geoglyphs made in the Nasca desert in southern Peru. They were created between 500 BC and 500 AD by members of the Nasca civilization.
There are two main phases of the Nasca lines: the Paracas phase, from 400 to 200 BC, and the Nasca phase, from 200 BC to 500 AD. As of this year, 2022 even 168 new figures have been found with drones, and archaeologists believe there are more to be found.
Most lines cross the landscape in a straight line, but there are also symbolic designs of animals and plants. The combined length of all lines exceeds 1,300 km. The lines are usually between 10 and 15 cm deep. They were made by removing the top layer of reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles to reveal a yellowish-gray subsoil.
When this gravel is removed, the light-colored clayey soil exposed at the bottom of the trench contrasts sharply in color and tone with the surrounding ground surface, producing visible lines. This sublayer contains large amounts of lime. With the moisture of the morning fog, it hardens to form a protective layer that shields the lines from the winds, thus preventing erosion.
The Nasca used this technique to “draw” several hundred simple but enormous curvilinear figures of animals and humans. The earthwork project is vast and complex: the area covered by the lines is almost 450 km2, and the most prominent figures can span nearly 370 m. For instance, the hummingbird is 93 m long, the condor is 134 m, the monkey is 93 m by 58 m, and the spider is 47 m. The total area of the lines is almost 450 km2, and the giant figures can cover nearly 370 m. The Nasca region’s dry, windless, constant climate has preserved the lines well. This dessert is one of the driest on Earth and maintains a temperature near 25 °C (77 °F) throughout the year. The lack of wind has helped keep the lines exposed and visible.
Some of the Nasca lines form figures best seen from the air (at about 500 m), although they are also visible from the surrounding foothills and other high places. A continuous line usually forms the figures. Due to their isolation and the plateau’s dry, stable, windless climate, the lines have been mostly naturally preserved.
On rare occasions, weather changes may temporarily alter the overall designs. As of 2012, the lines are said to have been deteriorating due to the influx of squatters inhabiting the land.
The figures vary in complexity. Hundreds are simple lines and geometric shapes; more than 70 are zoomorphic designs, such as a hummingbird, spider, fish, condor, heron, monkey, lizard, dog, cat, and human. Other shapes include trees and flowers.
Scholars differ in their interpretation of the purpose of the designs but generally attribute religious significance to them. They were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Among the most important explorers, scientists, archaeologists, and researchers who have investigated and intervened in the Nasca Lines, we can consider the Spaniard Pedro Cieza de León (in the 16th century), the Peruvian Toribio Mejía Xesspe, the North Americans Paul Kosok and John Reinhard (the latter is a recognized member of National Geographic), the German Maria Reiche and the Japanese Masato Sakai.
If you wish to consult books about the Nasca Lines, we recommend the following:
- Contributions to geometry and astronomy in ancient Peru. REICHE, María. Editorial Epígrafe. 1993,
- Nasca Lines. Of the men who drew the desert. HERRAN, Eduardo. Editorial Faculty of Communication Sciences, Tourism, and Psychology of the USMP. 2016.
- The Nazca Lines. A new approach to their origin and meaning. REINHARD, Johan. Editorial Los Pinos. 1997.
To date, more than 1,500 geoglyphs are known in the Nasca lines.
The lines and geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana in Palpa are considered an extraordinary example of the astronomical and religious expression of the pre-Hispanic societies that flourished on the southern coast of Peru.
Thanks to their exceptional surface design, they bear witness to a culture whose tradition, beliefs, and thinking developed independently in South America.
The site was transformed into a highly symbolic, ritual, social and cultural landscape that remains visible today.
The Nasca Lines were declared Historical and Cultural Heritage on December 17, 1994, stating that they “are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs in the world and are incomparable in extension, magnitude, quantity, size and diversity with any other similar work in the world”.
What are the theories about the origin of the Nasca Lines?
There are several theories about the origin of the Nasca Lines. Among the main ones, we can consider the following:
1. Astronomical calendar: Maria Reiche, one of the first and most dedicated Nasca researchers, was convinced that the lines represented a vast astronomical calendar used to mark on the horizon the places where the sun and other celestial bodies rose and set.
2. Religious function: it is claimed that the lines were made to please the gods. Being a very religious culture, this would explain why the Nasca civilization showed such an outstanding commitment to the project.
British explorer Tony Morrison found evidence of the existence of small shrines that appeared to be connected by the Nazca lines. Others have considered that the lines served as ritual centers to help the dead attain immortality or to perform religious ceremonies and rites.
Map of water sources and form of worship to the deities that provide water: it has been proposed that the lines and shapes serve as a map of subway water sources and as a guide for those who needed supplies in the desert. This theory was proposed by archaeologist John Reinhard, who also suggested that the figures symbolized a form of worship of the water-providing deities. As many of the lines point toward the Andes, they could also signify reverence for the mountains and the water that flows from them.
What are the myths about Nasca Lines?
The best-known myth about the Nasca Lines is that extraterrestrial visitors built them.
Swiss writer Erich von Daniken was a firm believer in extraterrestrial visitations. In 1968 he published a book entitled Chariots of the Gods. In his work, he considered that aliens created the Nasca shapes and lines to help them direct their spacecraft and as landing strips to rest on our planet.
Däniken claimed that the location of the Nasca lines confirmed visits of astronauts from other worlds, who became the creators of ancient civilizations. Always according to the Swiss writer, the Native Americans considered Nasca as a place of pilgrimage and, over time, built more figures and tracks as an invitation for the gods to return, but they never did.
How were the Nasca Lines formed?
The construction and formation of the Nasca Lines are considered to represent organized work in which a small group of individuals directed the design and creation of the lines. This process reinforced the social unity of the community. Despite the impressive scale of the geoglyphs, these remarkable works did not require complex technology.
Most geoglyphs were formed by removing eroded stones from the desert floor, rocks that had developed a dark patina on their surface known as “desert varnish.” Once removed, the lighter stones underneath became visible, forming the famous Nasca Lines.
The darker stones extracted were placed at the edges of the lines, including a border accentuating the lighter lines inside. Straight lines could be created by extending ropes, one on each side of the line, between two wooden stakes (some of which have been recovered) that guided the workers and allowed them to create lines of sight.
For larger geometric shapes, such as trapezoids, the edges were marked, and then all the stones were removed from the interior and placed along the edges or piled along the edges of the geoglyph. Broken pottery has been found mixed in with piles of stones. Spirals and animal shapes were made similarly.
The spirals, for example, were formed by loosening a rope as workers moved in a circular path, moving farther and farther away from the center where the spiral line began.
Two important scientists who have studied the Nasca Lines are María Reiche and Johan Reinhard. Reiche, born in Germany, moved to Peru when she was a young adult and dedicated her life’s work to studying the Nasca Lines.
She is often described as “the Lady of the Lines” due to her extensive research into them over many years. Among other things, she believed that they were used as an astronomical calendar and wrote books on her research into them.
Johan Reinhard, an anthropologist from the USA, also studied these mysterious ruins and helped bring international attention to them through his work. He thinks some of the lines may be associated with fertility rituals – he even discovered a female effigy near one line that confirms this theory. He has also written several books on his research into the Nasca Lines and has done much to draw attention to this fascinating subject.
Are the Nasca Lines Important for Peru’s History?
Yes, the Nasca lines extremely important in the history of Peru and the world. They are considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which makes them an unmistakable symbol of Peru’s history and culture.
The Nasca lines are some of the most impressive archaeological areas in the world and, at the same time, an extraordinary example of the traditional and millenary world in which the ancient pre-Hispanic cultures that inhabited the current territory of the Peruvian nation developed.
Is it safe to visit the Nasca Lines?
Yes, it is completely safe to visit and fly over the Nasca lines. There is no need to be worried about safety. Since 2010 when an accident occurred over the Nasca Lines in Peru, only a few companies with highly inspected aircraft have been permitted to resume service, which means that the chances of any incident occurring today are next-to-none.
Although observation towers and ground excursions are available for those who want to appreciate the lines without flying through them, they will give fewer views than soaring overhead. Take advantage of seeing this ancient masterpiece like never before: make sure you take flight above these incredible geoglyphs at least once.
Where are the Nasca Lines Located?
The Nasca lines are located in Peru, 450 kilometers south of Lima and near the Pacific Ocean, and are the pampas of Ingenio, Nasca, Palpa, and Socos. Between Palpa and Nazca, in the pampas of Jumana, are located these lines drawn on the ground? It is a land between blackish and reddish that turns violet at nightfall. A semicircle of hills in the distance forms a gigantic natural amphitheater open to the west.
What are the coordinates of Nasca Lines?
The coordinates of the Nasca Lines are as follows:
Latitude: -14° 42′ 59.99″ S
Longitude: -75° 07′ 60.00″ W
What are the Tours for Nasca Lines?
There are many tours offered to visit the Nazca lines.
Nasca Lines Overflights:
The best way to be amazed by the mysterious and captivating Nazca lines is by soaring over them in a twin-engine Cessna aircraft. Take an unforgettable journey with experienced, bilingual pilots as you fly over 13 of the most famous figures from this archaeological wonder. Alternatively, you can push further to fly over the Palpa geoglyphs for a full 60 minutes ride – all transfers included but airport tax and tourism ticket excluded.
Nasca Tourist Packages:
Another way of experiencing the mysteries of the Nasca lines from high above and up close is through a combination of the classic 35-minute flight over the famous lines and the thrilling buggy ride or sandboarding session on the desert dunes. Alternatively, you can learn about the rich history by visiting the Cantalloc Aqueducts, which is ideal for those interested in the culture and history of the Nasca civilization.
What is the best season for visiting Nasca Lines?
The best season to visit the Nasca Lines is from May to October, during the dry season with less rain and clear skies for an optimal view from above. December through March will also be ideal if you prefer warmer temperatures. However, during the high season (May to October), the weather sometimes prevents the first flights from departing due to wind and sandstorms, which might result in the cancellation of some scheduled flights.
What are the Hiking Routes for Nasca Lines?
There are three main hiking and walking routes around the Nasca lines: the Nasca City Walk and Archaeological Sites (17.9 km round-trip route), The Cahuachi – Tambo de Perro – Nasca Dunes (37.0 km circular route), and The Panoramic Route: Nasca – María Reiche Tower (49.6 km round-trip route).
The first trail is an easy one taking 4 hours to cover with a positive vertical drop of 249 m allowing visitors to tour some archaeological sites near the city like Cantayoc aqueducts, Los Paredones as well as close to some of the Nazca lines before ending at airport where they can fly over Nazca Lines.
The second trail is considered challenging taking 9 ½ hours with 788m positive vertical drop which starts in town of Cahuachi going through windy terrain perfect for Buggy cars and the third Trail takes 11 ½ hour covering 49 6KM distance offering 453m Positive Vertical Drop.
What are the Closest Destinations to Nasca Lines?
Some of Peru’s most beautiful tourist attractions are located at close and accessible distances to the Nasca Lines. If you can extend your trip for a few days, you will not regret visiting them.
1. Paracas National Reserve:
is a protected area located in the province of Pisco, in the department of Ica. The Paracas National Reserve was declared on September 25, 1975. It was created to conserve a portion of the sea and the desert, protecting the diverse species of wild flora and fauna. It is located 215 kilometers from Nasca. In April 1992, it was recognized as one of the sites of unique character for the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR Convention), especially as a habitat for aquatic species such as the sea lion, Humboldt penguins (which are in danger of extinction), guano birds such as the booby, the guanay, the pelican and other vital species.
Huacachina Lagoon is a large oasis located five kilometers west of Ica and 146 kilometers from Nasca, in the middle of the coastal desert. Green waters, it arose due to the upwelling of subway currents. Around it is abundant vegetation composed of palm trees, eucalyptus (introduced species), and the carob tree known as Huarango, which serves as a resting place for the flying birds that pass through this region. All this contributes to making Huacachina one of the most beautiful places on the Peruvian coast.
Pampa Galeras Barbara D’Achille National Reserve is located in the province of Lucanas, in the department of Ayacucho, 77 km from the city of Nasca.
It covers an area of 6,500 hectares; however, its area of influence is estimated to be close to 60,000 hectares and includes several rural communities. Its main objective is to conserve the vicuña to allow its sustainable use with benefits reverted to the high Andean inhabitants.
Considered the highest dune in the world and a favorite for sandboarding and paragliding. The dune reaches 2,078 meters above sea level and 1,176 meters from the base to the summit. Cerro Blanco is located 14 kilometers from Nazca, east of the Nasca Valley.
Located 100 km south of the city of Nasca, in the district of Bella Union, Arequipa. It is a rich deposit of fossil remains, especially whales and sharks of the tertiary era. There is a small on-site museum, a branch of the Natural History Museum of the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos.
How to Get from Cusco to Nasca Lines?
People can get to Nasca mainly by bus directly from Cuzco and Arequipa. The city of Nasca is almost halfway between Lima and Arequipa in terms of travel time by road.
Nasca has an airport that is only used for flights over the lines. Therefore, travel to Nasca is almost always from Lima to the north or from Arequipa to the south by road.
Nazca is well served by hop-on Hop-off services from nearby cities such as Ica or Paracas. No matter how you choose to get there, one thing remains certain: Nazca offers an experience that will leave you with many unforgettable memories,
A journey from Cusco to Nasca and then to Lima can be lengthy, as Cruz del Sur only offers two daily departures. Fortunately, there are hourly buses available – albeit primarily overnight ones! However, some travelers may prefer the longer but more scenic route via Arequipa due to its higher-quality roads. Depending on personal preference, you can travel between Cuzco and Arequipa by plane, bus or car.
Nasca, located halfway between Arequipa and Lima, is easily accessible from either city. Getting there by car takes time but offers an incredibly scenic drive with the Carretera Panamericana Sur as your guide – however it can be tiring depending on how far you are traveling.
Alternatively, taking the bus could take less than twelve hours, with companies like Cruz del Sur offering speedier journeys and comfort during their three or four daily departures to Nasca from Arequipa’s main terminal.
What to know before going to the Nasca Lines?
Below is a list of things you must know before making your trip to the Nasca Lines.
1. Always bring plenty of water, a hat for protection from the sun’s rays, and sunscreen. You may even want to carry sunglasses with you – it only takes one too many glares off those lines before they become unbearable.
2. Days in this desert climate typically stay hot throughout most of the year; however, nights tend to cool down, especially during July, which is their coldest month, while February is their hottest time period.
3. There are multiple ways that travelers can make it out there, ranging from booking trips independently or opting for two-day excursions with trustworthy companies – but if days feel like minutes when flying over these sacred landmarks, so consider them wisely!
4. Prices will vary depending on who supplies your flight over The Nasca Lines, planned at around 35 minutes per trip, costing approximately USD 100, making early morning visits particularly ideal.
When are the Nasca Lines Open?
The Nasca Lines are the perfect spot for a breathtaking aerial experience and an unforgettable ground exploration. Make sure to get there early – from 6:00 am if you’re taking off or 8:00 am if you want to explore by land. The airfield closes its doors at 5:00 pm while the lookout point remains open until 5:30 pm.
How is the Nasca Lines Itinerary?
There are three options for the best itineraries to explore Nazca.
First, for those looking to explore the incredible Nasca Lines, consider a trip from Lima with Cruz del Sur Buses. The journey takes 7.5 and 8.5 hours along Peru’s Panamerican Highway South, which passes through historic Pisco and Paracas Reserve before arriving in Nasca. Private transfer is also available for time-conscious travelers willing to pay extra for speedier journeys.
Second, You can spend your night in the city of Nasca and get up early to experience a truly spectacular view. Take an aerial tour on one of many available airlines that offer flights over the ancient Nasca Lines, soaring through 30-40 minutes for sweeping views at lookouts over desert terrain with famous figures like the hummingbird, lizard spider, and monkey spread out before you.
Third, Alternatively, take a bus north along Panamerican Highway South from town – it’s fast and cheap but won’t afford as fantastic sightseeing opportunities, so if possible, fly instead!
For the smoothest flight, take off in the a.m., when turbulence is at its lowest levels- but be sure to book with trusted airlines and budget for surcharges on top of your ticket price; look out for AeroNasca, AeroParacas, or Movil Air as great options!
What is the best vehicle for visiting Nasca Lines?
If you ask what is the best vehicle to visit the Nasca lines. Going by plane is the best way since it will allow you to contemplate the main figures in greater detail.
You should be aware that the flight has several sharp turns that make some passengers nauseous. Try to eat only a little in the hours before take-off. Going early in the morning is recommended as there is better visibility and less wind.
Choosing a good company such as AeroNasca, AeroParacas or Móvil Air is recommended.
Another alternative is to go by land and climb the observation tower. The tower is on the outskirts of Nasca. It is 13 meters high and offers a good view of two lines: the tree and the hands.
How many hours should a person spend visiting the Nasca Lines?
The trip by light aircraft to see the Nasca lines lasts approximately half an hour to forty minutes.
Is it possible to stay at Nasca Lines?
Yes, you can stay nearby the Nasca lines in Nasca town.
For those looking to explore the city of Nasca, travelers will find various accommodation options. The budget-friendly option is Nasca Travel One, offering private rooms with all creature comforts such as TV and Wi-Fi at an affordable price – plus continental breakfast is included. Meanwhile, for those wanting something more luxurious, Alegria Hotel offers spacious rooms surrounded by lush gardens and pool areas, giving guests their secret hideaway within the city – alongside other facilities like its restaurant.
Travelers seeking a remote desert escape with all the comforts of home are found at Hotel Las Dunas in Ica. Enjoy an oasis just 45 minutes away from Paracas National Reserve and 135 km to discover ancient Nasca Lines. Lima is only 300km away – perfect for travelers wanting to explore Peru’s capital city but relax in a tranquil setting when finished. With 50 rooms, choose between standard, superior, or deluxe suites and one villa accommodation option.
So whether you’re after a bargain or something special – there’s plenty on offer in beautiful Nasca for every type of traveler!
What was the purpose of the Nasca Lines for the civilization that created them?
The latest research and findings at Yamagata University suggest that the mysterious lines created in Peru’s desert were far more than just patterns on the sand. These ancient markings served as epicenters of spiritual power, unifying multiple cultures between the coast and highlands near Iquique. It has also been theorized that they acted like signs directing travelers to Cahuachi – a socio-political hub for Nasca citizens back then. Thus, revealing an extraordinary purpose behind these age-old figures crafted into sandy landscapes many millennia ago!
The Nasca culture was a remarkable civilization that left traces of its existence in Peru. Its center, Cahuachi on the Grande River, flourished between the first and seventh centuries before declining. One unique aspect of this ancient society is their giant geoglyphs in the Pampas de Jumana, which are considered astronomical depictions or even a calendar! The mysterious purpose behind these huge drawings remains unknown today, but no doubt speaks volumes about these impressive people’s knowledge and complexity.
How is the Geography of Nasca Lines?
The geography of the province of Nasca is characterized by valleys and rivers (Ingenio – Changuillo, Aja, Socos, Tierras Blancas, Taruga, Trancas, and Poroma rivers), all tributaries of the Grande river basin. There are immense pampas and hills typical of the coastal desert, highlighting the pampas of Jumana where the famous geoglyphs or Nasca Lines are found. To the province’s east, you can appreciate gorges that give beginning to the first Andean foothills. Coastal features include the inlet of San Fernando and the bays of San Nicolas and San Juan in the southern end of the province.
Specifically, the place where the Nasca culture developed is a tablazo, i.e., a tectonic uplift, which in the case of the tablazo of Ica flows into the sea in the form of a low cliff. The climate is warm, rainfall is scarce, and the terrain is arid, with sandy pampas and quite porous, with numerous subway filtrations that change the course of the rivers, which on many occasions emerge several kilometers away, constituting oases.
What is the Geological Profile of Nasca Lines?
An intricate tapestry has been painted onto a fan-shaped canvas in the Nasca desert for thousands of years. This immense work is comprised of alluvial deposits beginning as far back as the Pleistocene and spanning to modern times; some areas are covered with dunes or other evidence left by climactic fluctuations. The resulting geoglyphs stand today in testament to those who created them long ago.
The stunning Aeolian landscapes of the region are composed of faceted triangles and fans created by alluvial deposits, dissected further still by mighty Urupalla and Socos Gorges. Hills, mountains, and debris slopes – each featuring a unique combination of subvolcanic rocks, sediments, and continental/marine sedimentary rock – make up the impressive topography. These geological marvels provide captivating glimpses into an ancient world that few can ever witness in person.
Soils and sediments in the region can be divided into two primary categories. The first comprises mostly alluvial deposits, ranging from well-rounded gravels to subangular pebbles embedded in a sandy or silty matrix. In some areas, there are higher concentrations of finer particles, such as clays and silts, associated with water flows indicated by pampas features. The second sector consists mainly of weathering soils containing clay adjacent to existing intrusive rocks that may manifest hardened crusts over time due to their exposure to elements like wind and sand sun rays.
A unique soil formation was discovered in the pampas’ northern reaches. It had formed atop an ancient desert alluvium with limited rainfall and no signs of natural disturbance. On further inspection, it became evident that this sedimentation process was due to sustained wind patterns rather than transport from other landscapes – meaning its preservation is virtually intact! This area’s weather cycles vary significantly across seasons, making it interesting to explore their meteorological data in-depth.
The Nasca pampas have been steadily affected over time by the El Niño events, which cause climatic anomalies in certain areas. These alterations are evident with streams like Urupalla and Socos where rain washes away finer particles from slopes as well as accumulation of coarse materials on them.
What are the findings in Nasca Lines?
There are three basic types of Nasca Lines: straight lines, geometric designs, and pictorial representations.
There are more than 800 straight lines on the coastal plain, some of which are 48 km long.
In addition, there are more than 300 geometric designs, including basic shapes such as triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids, as well as spirals, arrows, zigzags, and wavy lines.
The Nasca Lines are best known for their depictions of 70 animals and plants, some of which are up to 370 meters long. Some examples are a spider, a hummingbird, a cactus, a monkey, a whale, a llama, a duck, a flower, a tree, a lizard, and a dog.
The Nasca also created other forms, such as a humanoid figure (nicknamed “The Astronaut”), hands, and some unidentifiable representations.
In 2011, a Japanese team discovered a new geoglyph that appears to depict a decapitation scene. At about 4.2 meters long and 3.1 meters wide, is much smaller than other Nasca figures and is not easily seen from aerial surveys.
In 2016, the same team found another geoglyph, this time one depicting a 98-foot-long (30 meters) mythical creature with many legs and mottled markings sticking out its tongue.
In 2018, Peruvian archaeologists announced that they had discovered more than 50 new geoglyphs in the region, using drones to map the landmarks.
This year, the team of academics from Yamagata University, led by Japanese researcher Masato Sakai, found 168 new geoglyphs near the Nasca lines with the help of Peruvian archaeologists, drones, and aerial images.
What is the nearest city to Nasca Lines?
Nasca is a city just 21 kilometers from the fascinating Nasca Lines, located in Peru. Just 6 hours and 20 minutes by car will take you on a fantastic journey from Lima – the capital of Peru to these mysterious figures etched into the landscape.
What are the books about Nasca Lines?
You can consult the following books about the Nasca Lines:
- Contributions to geometry and astronomy in ancient Peru. REICHE, María. Editorial Epígrafe. 1993.
- Peru. The secret of the desert. REICHE, María. Ministry of Education of Peru. 2001.
- Nasca Lines. Of the men who drew the desert. HERRAN, Eduardo. Editorial Faculty of Communication Sciences, Tourism and Psychology of the USMP. 2016.
- The Nazca Lines. A new approach to their origin and meaning. REINHARD, Johan. Editorial Los Pinos. 1997.
- The Mystery of the Nasca Lines. MORRISON, Tony. Publisher Woodbridge. 1987.
- The Nasca. SILVERMAN, Helaine. PROULX, Donald. Blackwell Publishers. 2008
Who are the scientists who worked on Nasca Lines?
Among the most influential scientists, archaeologists, and researchers who have worked on the Nasca Lines are the Peruvian Toribio Mejia Xesspe, the American Paul Kosok, the German Maria Reiche, and the Japanese Masato Sakai.
Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe was the first researcher to study the lines in 1926 systematically. However, since they are practically impossible to identify from ground level, they only became known to the public with the arrival of commercial flights over Peru in the 1930s.
American professor Paul Kosok investigated and found himself at the foot of a line on June 22, 1941, just one day after the winter solstice. At the end of a full day studying the lines, Kosok looked up from his work to see the sunset aligned directly with the line. Kosok called the 310-square-mile expanse of the high desert “the greatest astronomy book in the world.”
The German Maria Reiche, the Lady of Nasca, followed Kosok. Reiche studied the lines for 40 years and fought tirelessly to confirm her theories about the astronomical and calendrical purpose of the lines.
The team of academics from Yamagata University, headed by Japanese researcher Masato Sakai, found 168 new geoglyphs near the Nazca lines with the help of Peruvian archaeologists, drones, and aerial images.
What do the Nasca Lines Mean?
The magnificent Nasca Lines – sprawling geoglyphs carved into Peru’s coastal plain – have been a source of wonder and mystery for over two millennia. From bird-like shapes to animals and plants, these enormous etchings can only be truly appreciated from above due to their immense size. As much as 80 years after first being studied by researchers, many of its secrets remain unsolved—a testament to humankind’s captivating ancient art forms that continue to move us today!
Which district is Nasca Lines in?
The Nasca Lines are located in the Department of Ica, precisely in the Province of Nasca.
Is Nasca River close to the Nasca Lines?
Yes, the Nasca Lines are located near the Nasca River. This river basin, together with the Rio Grande basin where the Nasca River flows into, affected and influenced the history of the lines and the civilization that developed them.
Does the Nasca River affect the History of Nasca Lines?
The Nasca River has influenced and affected the history of the Nasca Culture and the Nasca Lines.
The Nasca Lines are located in the desert plains of the Rio Grande river basin, into which the Nasca River flows. This account is, in turn, an archaeological site covering more than 75,000 hectares and is one of the driest places on Earth.
It is an area where it practically does not rain but where there is water because these rivers, at least annually, provide a flow from the rains that occur in the Andes. In such a way that these rivers become oases, thanks to which it is possible to develop agricultural activities.
Since the Nasca Lines are located in a place where less than one liter/m² of rain falls per year. The terrain is arid, and the composition of the soil, with a high gypsum content mixed with the morning dew, keeps the Earth and stones “attached” to the ground, preventing them from being carried away by the movement of the air. This warm air acts as a cushion that prevents the lines from being erased because it forces the wind to change its direction.
The Nasca culture developed mainly in the valleys of the department of Ica, Peru. Its center was located in Cahuachi, on the left bank of the Rio Grande, in the current province of Nasca.
It is known that water supply played an essential role in their development. In several excavations, small cavities have been found in the geoglyphs in which offerings of agricultural products and marine animals have been found, which had a religious character. Some researchers consider that the drawings of the Nasca Lines were part of a ritual landscape whose purpose was the invocation of water.
The Nasca culture consolidated a remarkable hydraulic technology: building aqueducts, canals, and wells, allowing them to supply water to their cultivated lands permanently.
How did Nasca Lines live in the Past?
Some recent research indicates that the purpose of the Nasca Lines was related to water. A precious asset in the arid lands that form the Peruvian coast. According to these studies, the geoglyphs were not used as an irrigation system or a guide to finding water but as part of a ritual to the gods, an effort to attract much-needed rain.
On this basis, they point out that the representations of animals -some of which are symbols of rain, water, or fertility and have been found in other ancient Peruvian sites and in ceramics- are proof of this.
In 2015, at the 80th annual meeting of the American Society for Archaeology, it was presented that the purpose of the Nazca Lines changed over time. At first, pilgrims on their way to Peruvian temples used the geoglyphs as ritual processional routes. Later, as part of a religious rite, groups would break ceramic pots against the ground at the point where the lines intersected.
How was Agriculture in Nasca Lines?
The Nasca culture was a civilization whose subsistence economy was based on intensive agriculture.
The basis of the economy was agriculture, an activity that was a difficult challenge for the Nazca to overcome due to the geographic characteristics of the region where they developed: a relatively dry climate, little agricultural land, and little water for irrigation.
In this regard, the Italian scholar Antonio Raimondi observed that:
Located in the depths of Nazca, a subterranean waterway runs closer than four or five meters underground – unfortunately, too deep to irrigate its arid land. The river usually is dry throughout most months, yet thanks to remarkable works by the ancient civilization centuries ago; it has been able to sustain life in this otherwise desolate landscape for over ten months annually.
The way the Nasca solved this problem is one of the most admirable achievements of their culture. Applying remarkable hydraulic technology, they built aqueducts, canals, and wells that allowed them to permanently supply water to the cultivated lands, thus developing solid agriculture.
Their crops were: corn, beans, squash, pumpkin, cassava, peanuts, peppers, guava, lucuma, pacae, and cotton. With the latter, they developed their textiles and clothing.
How was Mining in Nasca Lines?
The Nasca culture used gold and silver to make masks, ear flares, nose rings, and other ritual objects decorated by embossing, as they were sheets. These objects were for ceremonial and/or religious uses.
How was the economy of Nasca Lines?
The Nasca people, a pre-Columbian civilization on the Peruvian coast, developed an advanced economy based on intensive agriculture and fishing. Aqueducts provided irrigation for their cultivated land, while plentiful sea resources were taken advantage of through marine life, such as whales depicted in ceramic artworks. In addition to regional trade exchanging goods like textiles with neighboring societies such as the Huarpas in the highlands, these ancient South Americans laid down solid foundations that contributed to cultural prosperity in this part of Peru long ago.
How was Daily Life in Nasca Lines?
At the top of the Nasca social pyramid were the principal authorities: lords and priests. These could organize community work and direct complex ceremonial activities. This elite lived in pyramidal buildings, in particular sectors whose rooms were made of adobe and walls covered with a layer of plaster or lime to cover cracks.
At the service of these authorities were a large number of specialized artisans, such as potters and textile makers, astrologers, musicians, and soldiers, who lived in small towns and ceremonial centers, among which Cahuachi was the most important. The warriors in particular, formed a highly respected and feared social class because they were characterized by their strength and pride in both ceramics and textiles.
At the base of the society were the farmers and fishermen, who lived scattered in different parts of the territory. The farmers had almost all of the valleys in this way; they could develop agriculture with more space and fertile land.
The Nasca culture did not have a unified government or a capital but was a grouping of local lordships. These lordships occupied the valleys, at the ends of which were the settlements since the rest of the territory along each river was dedicated exclusively to agriculture.
These lordships eventually made alliances, the only common bond being a religion, in addition to culture. The struggles between them must have been ongoing.
The Nasca were very fond of war. They were always looking for trophy heads and painted their faces imitating the falcon’s spots, as seen in their artistic representations.
It is presumed that the expansion of this culture was military in nature, based on the following facts:
- The sudden appearance of Nasca ceramics in some sites
- The existence of fortified cities in the area of Nasca influence
- The large number of weapons found in the tombs
- The custom of head-trophies
Their expansion must have been due to the search for new arable land in the face of the desertification process that threatened their own territory.
The practice of trophy heads originated in the Chavín and Paracas cultures. However, under the Nasca it became widespread, so much so that it is even profusely represented in their early ceramics.
It was widely believed that they were war trophies: the victorious warrior had the right to cut off the head of the defeated enemy and turn it into a trophy that he always carried with him. However, the finding of children’s and women’s heads that are not associated with war contexts has led to the assumption that they could also be practices linked to the cult of fertility.
According to studies carried out in the tombs of Cahuachi and other Nazca sites, Helaine Silverman suggests that approximately 5% of the Nasca inhabitants ended up as trophy heads, which gives us an idea of the enormous diffusion of this practice.
What were the Religious Beliefs in Nasca Lines?
The Nasca civilization performed rituals to the divinities of the sea, the sky, the Earth, fire, water, wind, and the creator God. A significant part of their constructions and elaborations were made for the gods so that there would be no droughts and the canals would not dry up. Their religion was also related to the Nasca Lines, considered by some researchers as an agricultural circle and astronomical calendar. Others point out that they were the site of numerous rituals dedicated to their gods.
Typical Nasca burials were generally individual, inside a shallow pit. In the Middle and Late Nasca periods, burials appeared in deep burial chambers, with lined walls and with more outstanding grave goods than in previous periods, suggesting the appearance of powerful elites and more significant social differentiation. At the site of La Muña, in the Palpa valley, this type of burial chamber has been found associated with ceremonial architecture, but unfortunately, already been looted and stolen.
The position of the buried person could be flexed or lying down. The angled bodies (fetal position) were wrapped with several layers of shrouds until they formed a bundle, similar to those of the Paracas Culture. Some bundles had a so-called “false head,” a slight bulge in the upper part that simulated a head. The burial was accompanied by various offerings, mates or vessels filled with food, weapons, and a series of clothing accessories such as hats, plumes, and bouquets.
The importance of the deceased can be determined by the complexity of the chamber’s roof and the number of objects it contains. The tombs of the men and women of the village lack luxury.
A typical Nasca cemetery is located in Chauchilla, 30 km from the present city of the same name. It is composed of burial chambers and pits roofed with cane and mud. Unfortunately, it has been plundered intensely, losing much of the information that it kept.
How is the Past of Nasca Lines presented to the visitors?
The best way the Nasca lines are presented to visitors is written by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) on its web page;
In the desert of southern Peru, giant etchings of spiders, whales, people, and trapezoids stretching across 450sqkm have adorned the landscape for 2,000 years.
Preserved by the hot sun and a dry climate, the Nasca Lines have been embedded with mystery ever since the Nasca civilization collapsed around 600 AD.
The ancient Nascas scratched their drawings into the sand by digging away at the dark stones that covered the surface.
The manmade wonder resulted from a collection of shapes and pictures only discernable from great heights—the question of why has lingered over these images for centuries.
As more and more is uncovered about the ancient civilization that once lived on this arid coastal plain, the Nasca Lines will continue to intrigue for academics and ordinary people. Travelers to Peru can only hope that preservation efforts can make this archaeological treasure last for generations to come.
Today, the Nasca Lines are a World Heritage Site attracting curious tourists and academics from around the world. But the etchings may be under threat. Nasca’s incredible lines and geoglyphs have been placed on the World Monument Fund’s 2012 Watch list.
As a result, the Ministry of Culture is working on a master plan to regulate tourism and industrial activity in the area. That plan will likely include tactics for responding to flooding caused by El Niño and La Niña climate patterns.
Several tour operators offer trips to Nasca and a few bill themselves as eco-tourism businesses. Outfitters Eco Service Tours and Sacred Earth Travel offer three-day tours to view the geoglyphs from above and up close on the ground.
Preserving the Nasca Lines should be in the Peruvian government’s best interest. The alluring history of these cryptic lines could have the potential to rival Machu Picchu as a tourist destination.
How is the Preservation of Nasca Lines?
Given the scarcity of rain, wind, and erosion in the desert, the geoglyphs have been very well preserved over the centuries.
Unlike other relics worldwide, the Nasca Lines were primarily saved from unintentional destruction, thanks to their location in the desert.
But they are not entirely risk-free.
In 2009, the Nasca Lines suffered the first recorded rain damage in their millennial history. The heavy downpours deposited sand and clay on three fingers of the hand-shaped geoglyph. This makes us consider climate change as a risk to be taken into account for preserving this World Heritage Site.
Five years later, Greenpeace’s environmental group damaged an area near the hummingbird geoglyph. Activists disturbed the top layer of rocks next to the hummingbird figure when they trampled the forbidden area of the desert to put up a large sign promoting renewable energy.
And in 2018, a truck driver was arrested after he drove over a portion of the Nasca Lines, etching deep scars in an area approximately 100 feet by 330 feet (about 50 meters by 100 meters). The damage caused by the truck driver renewed calls for increased security and surveillance at the sites.
Is there a modern town of Nasca Lines?
Nasca is a Peruvian city, the capital of the district of the same name, located in the province of Nasca in the department of Ica. Geographically it is situated on the right bank of the Aja River, a tributary of the Rio Grande in a valley 520 meters above sea level 439 km south of Lima.
It is a very vibrant city thanks to the large number of visitors that arrive daily to see the Nasca Lines and also due to its surroundings’ mining, agricultural and commercial development.
Its population is approximately 50,000 inhabitants.
How is the Map of Nasca Lines Layout?
How was transportation to the Nazca lines?
Do Nasca Lines have a No-fly Zone?
In Peru, overflight is prohibited in restricted areas, such as the Government Palace, military zones, airports, archeological sites (including the Nasca lines, of course), and protected natural areas, unless authorized by the corresponding entities.
What are the prominent historical landmarks in Nasca?
Among the main places of historical interest in Nasca, in addition to the lines themselves, we consider the following areas to visit:
- Plaza de Armas is the central square of Nasca, where several hotels and restaurants are located. There is also a museum of the same name, which exhibits mostly ceramics of the ancient Nasca culture.
Conveniently located a short distance from the small Maria Reiche Neuman airport, which usually handles tourist traffic, it is the liveliest place in town.
- Cahuachi: is a citadel and ceremonial center of the ancient Nasca culture. There we can find two staggered pyramids of adobe.
- Chauchilla Cemetery: It is a pre-Inca necropolis. Some sources relate it to the ancient Huari Culture, and others to the Nasca Culture. In the cemetery, you can see fragments of pottery, textiles, as well as mummies.
- Aqueducts of Cantalloc: it was built by the Nasca culture, and they work until today. Demonstrating the technological advances in hydraulic engineering that the Nasca civilization had. More than 40 aqueducts were built, which were used throughout the year to develop an efficient agriculture and meet the needs of its population.
Is Nasca Lines in UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
Since 1994, the Nasca Lines have been considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What is the contribution of Nasca Lines to Tourism in Peru?
Every year, more than one hundred thousand people visit the Nasca Lines. The lines are of great importance for the province of Nasca, as they generate employment and a great deal of fluidity in the local economy.
According to National Geographic, preserving the Nasca Lines should become a priority for the Peruvian government. This is because, according to an American scientific publication, this great work has all the potential to rival Machu Picchu as a tourist destination.
Are the Nazca Lines in danger?
The Nasca Lines are in danger of disappearing in our lifetimes. Despite having survived thousands of years, the Lines could easily be swept away by a major storm, a risk in the age of climate change.
However, humans are the greatest threat to the Nasca Lines: urbanization, road construction, and modernity are more severe threats than any other natural reason.
The best-known case of damage caused by human actions to the Nasca Lines occurred in 2014 when twelve Greenpeace activists illegally entered a 40m2 area where the Colibri geoglyph is located. In this space, 45 yellow canvases were placed with the message “Time for Change! The future is renewable, Greenpeace”.
The events occurred during the UN Climate Conference held in Peru that year.
In 2015, the executive director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, acknowledged that the activity was a mistake. “Greenpeace should never have done the activity in the Nazca lines,” he assured and affirmed that they would repair the damage.
Is Nasca Lines floated in the Past?
The Nasca lines did not float in the Past.
The Nasca Lines are located in a place where less than one liter/m² of rain falls per year. As this is an arid terrain, the composition of the soil, with a high gypsum content mixed with the morning dew, keeps the dirt and stones “attached” to the ground, preventing them from being dragged by the movement of the air.
This hot air acts as a cushion that prevents the lines from blurring because it forces the wind to change its direction.
How many Artifacts exist in Nasca Lines?
To date, more than 1,500 geoglyphs are known in the Nasca lines.
Geometric lines and figures extend over 400 square kilometers in southern Peru. The figures are up to 1.9 kilometers long, and the lines are up to 10 kilometers.
Currently, in December 2022, new drawings and figures continue to appear.
Some Sample Artifacts from Nasca Lines?
Below is a list of the artifacts in the Nasca lines;
Hummingbird Figure – Nasca LinesFigure of the Hands – Nasca Lines
The figure of the spider – Nasca Lines
Monkey Figure – Nasca Lines
Nasca Culture Textiles
Mug with pelican motifs – Nasca Culture.
What are the movies about Nasca Lines?
Several films, reports, and documentaries have been made about the Nasca Lines. Some have been productions made with all the seriousness and rigor in the information of National Geographic, as well as other works made solely for entertainment, as is the case of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and the soon-to-be-released movie Transformers: The Awakening of the Beasts.
1 – The documentary series ‘The Nazca Lines’, was produced by Edge West Production in association with National Geographic Television for National Geographic Channel.
2- BBC News report – Skydivers’ 8,800ft jump over Peru’s Nazca lines
3 – Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008). Indiana Jones makes one of his last adventures in Peru. During his stay in the country of the Incas, he visits Cusco and the ancient Nasca lines.
4 – Transformers: Awakening of the Beasts. (2023). So far, the last great confrontation between Autobots and Decepticons takes place in Peru, in some of its most famous historical and millenary places.
Who are the famous people who visited Nasca Lines?
Among the essential explorers, scientists, archaeologists, and researchers who have worked in the Nasca Lines, we can consider the Spanish Pedro Cieza de León (in the XVI century), the Peruvian Toribio Mejía Xesspe, the North Americans Paul Kosok and John Reinhard (the latter is a recognized member of National Geographic), the German Maria Reiche and the Japanese Masato Sakai.
From the world of fiction, the movie hero Indiana Jones (represented by Harrison Ford) lived adventures in the Nasca Lines that we were lucky enough to see in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull”. The movie’s filming took place in the USA, but, as an anecdote and from fantasy, great Indiana once again saved the world, in this case, from Nasca.
Unlike Indiana Jones, who did visit the Nasca Lines, and filmed scenes of his new movie in Peru, were the Autobots. Their next confrontation against the evil Decepticons takes place in Peruvian territory: Nasca, Cusco, and the Amazon jungle. In 2023 we will see them in Transformers: Awakening of the Beasts.
Miguel is a professional tour guide from Cusco, Peru, with almost 20 years of experience leading tours and a deep knowledge of Peru’s cultural and ecological diversity. He is also an advocate of ecotourism and cultural sensitivity and has lectured on these topics in the US and Europe. He co-founded Evolution Treks Peru, a worker-owned travel company based in Cusco.