NAZCA LINES (Ica Peru)
The Nazca lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau that stretches more than 80 km (50 miles) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru. They are believed to have been created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, llamas and lizards.
The creator of the lines and why they were created is not known. The leading mainstream theory is that the Nazca people made the lines using simple tools and surveying equipment. Wooden stakes in the ground at the end of some lines (which were used to carbon-date the figures) and ceramics found on the surface support this theory. Furthermore, researchers such as Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky, have reproduced, without aerial supervision, the figures using the technology available to the Nazca people of the time. With careful planning and simple technologies, a small team of individuals could recreate even the largest figures within days. Contrary to the claims of several commentators, the figures can be observed from the ground by standing on top of nearby foothills.
The lines were made by removing the iron oxide coated pebbles which cover the surface of the Nazca desert. When the gravel is removed, the lines contrast sharply with the surroundings because of the light-colored earth underneath. There are several hundred simple lines and geometric patterns on the Nazca plateau, as well as over seventy curvilinear animal and human figures. The area encompassing the lines is nearly 500 square kilometers (193 square miles), and the largest figures can be nearly 270 m long (886 feet). The lines persist due to the extremely dry, windless, and constant climate of the Nazca region. The Nazca desert is one of the driest on Earth and maintains a temperature around 25C (77F) all year round, and the lack of wind has helped keep the lines uncovered to the present day.
Why the figures were built remains a persistent mystery. A leading theory is that the Nazca people's motivations were religious, that the images were constructed so that gods in the sky could see them. Kosok and Reiche advanced one of the earliest reasons given for the Nazca Lines: that they were intended to point to the places on the distant horizon where the Sun and other celestial bodies rose or set. This hypothesis was evaluated by two different experts in archaeoastronomy, Gerald Hawkins and Anthony Aveni, and they both concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support an astronomical explanation.
In 1985, the archaeologist Johan Reinhard published archaeological, ethnographic, and historical data demonstrating that worship of mountains and other water sources played a dominant role in Nazca religion and economy from ancient to recent times. He presented the theory that the lines and figures can be explained as part of religious practices involving the worship of deities associated with the availability of water and thus the fertility of crops. The lines were interpreted as being primarily used as sacred paths leading to places where these deities could be worshiped and the figures as symbolically representing animals and objects meant to invoke their aid. However, the precise meanings of many of the individual geoglyphs remain unsolved.
Notwithstanding Gerald Hawkins' and Anthony Aveni's dismissal of an astronomical explanation of the Nazca Lines and geoglyphs, astronomer Robin Edgar has theorized that the Nazca Lines, particularly the biomorph geoglyphs that depict animals, human figures, birds and "flowers" are almost certainly an ancient response to the so-called "Eye of God" that is manifested in the sky during a total solar eclipse. An unusual series of total solar eclipses over southern Peru coincided with the time period during which the Nazca Lines and geoglyphs were created. The totally eclipsed sun distinctly resembles the pupil and iris of a gigantic eye looking down from the sky thus providing an explanation as to why the Nazca people created gigantic geoglyph artworks that are best viewed by an "Eye in the Sky
Some (for example Jim Woodmann) have proposed that the Nazca lines presuppose some form of manned flight (in order to see them) and that a hot air balloon was the only possible available technology. Woodmann actually made a hot air balloon from materials and using techniques that would have been available to people at the time in order to test this hypothesis. The balloon flew (after a fashion) demonstrating that this hypothesis was possible, but there is no hard evidence either way and Woodman's work has been rebutted. Record setting hot air balloon aviator Julian Nott has proposed that Nazca tribal leaders could have been aloft in primitive hot air balloons, as long as two millennia ago, guiding the creation of the Nazca ground figures from above.
Another theory contends that the lines are the remains of "walking temples," where a large group of worshipers walked along a preset pattern dedicated to a particular holy entity, similar to the practice of labyrinth walking. Residents of the local villages say the ancient Nazca conducted rituals on these giant drawings to thank the gods and to ensure that water would continue to flow from the Andes. This view correlates with the purposes of North American geoglyphs.
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