At the beginning of the 20th century, an airplane flew over the Peruvian desert seeing the pale and opaque monotony of the rocks and sand. But suddenly the landscape took a different shape and was littered with lines and shapes insight. The discovery has made Nazca one of the most visited places in Peru. Many tourists seek to experience a fun flight on these lines. And much of its growing popularity lies in the mysterious purpose of the lines. But despite the great efforts of academics, today there are only approximate theories that try to explain the purpose of the lines. So today you can find many and varied Nazca Lines theories. And together with the Machu Travel Peru team, we want to investigate some of them. Be sure to include this wonderful destination in your itinerary.
Everything you need to know about the different Nazca Lines theories
WHAT ARE THEY?
Before knowing the different Nazca Lines theories, it is a good idea to know what we are talking about. First of all, you have to know about the Nazca lines. And for that, we must ask ourselves: What are the Nazca lines? The lines are a series of geoglyphs drawn in the middle of the Peruvian desert. The different figures are found just outside the city of Nazca, in the south of Lima. Because there is so little rain, wind, and erosion in the area, these lines have been excellently preserved.
You will find simple lines, geometric figures, animal figures, and anthropomorphic figures among others. In total, there are more than 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures, and some 70 animal and plant designs. This series of geoglyphs is believed to have been made by the ancient Nazca culture. This culture lived in the surrounding area and in some of the available museums you can learn more about them. If you are looking to witness this site, you better book your flight in advance. Flying over the Nazca lines is one of the best ways to appreciate this attraction.
HOW WERE THEY MADE
Before delving into the different Nazca Lines theories, it is a good idea to know how were the Nazca lines made. And we have a clear idea of how they were made. The origin and purpose are still being debated by various academics. This series of geoglyphs are surprisingly accurate. And one of the most surprising facts is its consistency and size, which is remarkable enough to be done by ancient cultures. It is suspected that due to the great precision of the lines, the authors used ropes and stakes in order not to deviate from the line.
But it is generally believed that they were made by three different cultures at different periods. These cultures were pre-Inca and among them is the Nazca culture. There were also the people of Paracas and the Huari culture. Due to the size of the figures and lines, we can understand why so many people are in awe of lines. The lines have survived for hundreds of years due to the Peruvian desert climate. The characteristically hot and dry climate helps preserve the site without annual rains.
THEORIES SURROUNDING THE SITE
The purpose of the Nazca lines is still not entirely clear. Nobody knows why the different geoglyphs were drawn, but endless Nazca Lines theories have appeared to try to give meaning. Some of which are quite reasonable and credible, based on different studies. While others are a bit ridiculous and do not find any basis in scientific terrain.
ERICH VON DANIKEN THEORY
One of the first Nazca Lines theories to emerge around the site was that of a Swiss archaeologist. He was known as Erich von Daniken, and it was he who concluded that the drawings were made by aliens who used the lines as landing strips. In his 1968 book, “Chariots of the Gods,” he delved into this theory. No Place was one of the most infamous theories about the purpose and origin of lines. To some, this may seem a bit crazy, but many people believed it.
Being one of the first theories to gain popularity, it settled in the minds of fans of the site. He even managed to be more convincing with the presence of the “Astronaut” who is one of the many Nazca Lines images. But despite being a quite attractive theory, we can conclude that it does not resemble what the Nazca culture tried to leave as a legacy.
MARIA REICHE THEORY
But among all the Nazca Lines theories, some are more credible than others. Especially the theory of the archaeologist Maria Reiche, a German woman who spent her life studying the geoglyphs. According to Maria Reiche, the lines were a kind of astronomical observatory. Where the countless lines that crossed the desert were used to observe the movements of the Sun and the Moon. It is believed that the different geoglyphs formed a kind of map where to observe different celestial events. As well as predicting the change of seasons that helped them with their agriculture. Maria Reiche also believed that some of the shapes correlated with different constellations. But there are also strong objections to this theory. Paul Kosok was an important influencer of this theory, being one of the first to promote the idea of an astrological Nazca lines map.
JOHAN REINHARD’S THEORY
Today, among the most accepted Nazca Lines theories is the one originally suggested by archaeologist Johan Reinhard. He claims that the lines are related to some kind of ritual practice for the worship of water. Being in a desert, it is not difficult to think of water as a precious and necessary commodity. Especially if one was looking for crops to grow. So the Hummingbird in Nazca Lines may have been one of the many sacred roads that led to ceremonial sites.
DONALD PROUX THEORY
Archaeologist Donald Proulx and hydrogeologist Stephen Mabee raised one of the most credible Nazca Lines theories. They claimed that the lines pointed to different supplies and sources of groundwater. And this theory is reinforced with the so-called “Puquios” very close to the lines. These were sophisticated hydraulic systems built to recover water from the different underground aquifers.
Other Nazca Lines theories claim that the answer to the mystery of the Nazca lines is found in the pottery of the Nazca people. These masterpieces of ancient civilization are characterized by their bright colors. Different agricultural products are seen in the different ceramic examples. Besides, all the drawings of the Nazca Lines are represented on the ceramics. This reinforces the theories that hint that the lines had a strong agricultural purpose. Nowadays there are not many ways to see the Nazca Lines, but flying would definitely be the best option.
Today no theory is accepted as fact in itself. But it is concluded that the Nazca lines perhaps were multifunctional. Some areas may be related to agriculture, others to water, others to sky observation, and so on. But we believe that to draw your conclusions it is a good idea that you enjoy a Nazca Lines tour. This way you can express your own conclusions. Who says you won’t be the next to formulate any of the next Nazca Lines theories?
“EXPERIENCE WITHOUT THEORY IS BLIND, BUT THEORY WITHOUT EXPERIENCE IS MERE INTELLECTUAL PLAY.”
Being able to know the different Nazca Lines theories is quite motivating to start planning your trip. Especially if you plan to include this wonderful destination in your itinerary. Together with the Machu Travel Peru team, we hope we have been helpful. If you want to know more about any of our Peruvian destinations, you can check some of the other articles on the blog. And if you are looking to know our different tours in Peru, you can consult with our qualified advisers. We will be waiting for your soon visit to the magical Andean country!