San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley

The Enormous Land Drawings of Nasca, Peru

On a desolate plain in a valley in the south coastal region of Peru there are what amounts to drawings of creatures. At a ground level it is not obvious that the mysterious lines constitute drawings. The lines are the width of a human path cleared of dark surface level material to expose a pinkish subsurface. The surface level material was neatly piled along the line borders. Some thought that these lines were cleared by large stones moved by some mysterious force across the flat plain. When aircraft started flying over the area the pilots saw the figures. There were so many that the area looked like a gigantic school blackboard; one that covered 400 square miles.

When anthropologists and archaeologists researched the area they were able to determine how and when the drawings were created but not for sure why. The time of the construction of the drawings was about two thousand years ago. There might have been two periods of intense construction. The researchers were able to establish that the builders walked along the lines and that there may have an association of the long lines with water sources.

There are about one thousand drawings altogether. Many are artistically pleasing when viewed from high above but none of designers and constructors got to enjoy those views while working on them. From high places on mountains in the vicinity the drawings could be viewed but only at an angle.

The builders of the drawings were the people who lived the verdant river valleys of the mountains surrounding the plain. There were different tribal groups and each drawing may have been the product of a particular tribal group.

(To be continued.)


Anthony E. Aveni, Between the Lines, University of Texas Press, Austin, 2000.

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