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PostNazca Lines (Enrique Torner, USA, 12/17/14 8:44 pm)
It's a real shame that the Nazca lines have been permanently damaged by Greenpeace. I find this absolutely outrageous! For a war to damage archeological sites is bad, but still understandable; but to do that in order to promote their cause is insane and criminal! I hope they are prosecuted to the fullest extent.
I don't know how well WAISers know the Nazca lines, so I thought I would give you the latest research findings, since this site has been a research interest of mine. The latest research has discarded the theory that the lines were landing strips for aliens, who had supposedly made them way before the Nazca existed. Ground surveys have found many Nazca pottery shards in and around the lines, most of them dating to about AD 400 to 650. We also have a set of wooden survey stakes that have been found in and around the lines, also dating to the period AD 400 to 650. Most scholars agree that the wooden stakes that were found were used to develop sight lines. Regarding the reason why the lines were made, there are several theories, but the most accepted one is that the lines were pilgrimage paths. This theory points to individual groups, over time, making their own kinds of lines and disrespecting earlier lines as having already served their purpose. The pottery shards perhaps indicate offerings, though it is unclear to whom or for what purpose. Lines in the Palpa Valley show the Fanged Deity, which could support this theory.
Regarding the Nazca lines themselves, they are huge geoglyphs that were carved into the desert in the Nazca area. They are so large and magnificent that people wonder how they could have been made, for what purpose, and why they can only be seen from the sky. Actually, they can be seen from the top of high mounds that are there. The question of why the lines stand out on the desert floor so clearly from above is fairly simple to answer. There are dark rocks and reddish soil covering the Nazca plains. When those rocks and the topsoil are brushed away, just underneath the surface is lighter, white sand. The topsoil is so thin that it is easily scraped away by foot. The forms of these giant Nazca lines vary greatly. There are geometric shapes, spirals, lines (some of which emanate out of a center point), and a variety of animal and human forms. Some of them extend for miles. The most famous forms are those representing animals: there is a monkey, an orca, and a hummingbird that extends for more than two football fields, to name a few.
I hope this gives you a basic idea, beyond Wikipedia.JE comments: Very informative. I regret not having time to see the Nazca lines during our trip to Peru several years ago--I think it was in 2008. But we're in Mexico City now, and we will definitely take my sis-in-law Justyna to Teotihuacán. As one of my students said years ago on a Mexico study trip, there's nothing quite like Latin America's "old rocks."