Travel in Latin America

A Peruvian Ponder: The Nazca Lines
By:Louise Mumford

What are the Nazca Lines?

Not much can be said with any degree of certainty about the Nazca Lines, other than their location and vague definition. Situated in the Nazca desert in Peru, a series of geoglyphs can be found. This is a central tourist attraction in the region, with many Peru tours taking visitors to the site, and many theories proposed as to their creation.

The geogylphs are made up of hundreds of figures, covering a range of different designs. The images range from llamas, lizards, monkeys and snakes, to hummingbirds, monkeys and sharks. The images are defined by lines in the ground, made from shallow etchings where the red pebbles have been scratched away, uncovering the lighter, whitish ground beneath. If you want to see these great designs when on a Peru holiday, you will need to arrange to view these by air, as the images are too large to be viewed from the ground.

It has been determined that the Nazca lines were created between 200 BC and AD 700 by a society in the Nazca desert. What is particularly fascinating is the way in which these people were able to construct images on such a large scale (big enough that they can only be viewed from the sky) without the aid of modern technological equipment.

Thoughts and Theories

Many theories have been put forward regarding the creation of the Nazca Lines, but no concrete evidence exists to confirm any one particular theory. While you may not solve the riddle on your tour of Peru, visiting the region will at least bring these theories to life.

One thing that most scholars are willing to agree upon, is that the Nazca Lines probably have some sort of religious significance to those that created them. Precisely what significance they have is up for debate, however.

Some believe that the Nazca people designed these enormous patterns so that they could communicate with the gods in the sky, while others believe that the lines are sacred paths leading to points of worship of the gods of water. A Peru holiday will allow you to walk along these paths yourself, where you can worship the water gods, or simply marvel at your surroundings.

Theories as to how the lines were made have also been postulated. One of the central points of debate is how the Nazca people were able to create designs which they could not have seen in their entirety from the ground, and without modern tools. Some theorise that they used hot air balloons, although this is supported by virtually no evidence. It is generally agreed that the Nazca people used simple tools and surveying equipment, supported by the finding of a wooden stake at the end of one of the lines.

A Conspiracy Theorist’s Opinion

Mysterious markings such as these lend themselves to conspiracy theories. Simply chatting to the locals when on a Peru holiday will probably give you a lot of insight into such theories. Conspiracy theorists have concocted beliefs involving the Illuminati’s plans for world domination, and alien spaceship landing strips. But the best way to explore such beliefs is to ask your guide when on a Peru tour.

Louise Mumford is a holiday specialist at South American Experience, a company that specialises in tailor-made arrangements for Peru Holidays . Our dedicated team has two decades of first-hand experience in the Latin America region.

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