Secrets of drawings on the Nazca plateau
In the Peruvian desert, about 300 km south of Lima, between the Inca and Nazca valleys, there is a plain. On it, on a stretch of 60 km and a width of 1.5 km, you can see perfectly straight lines, many of which are parallel to each other, while others intersect, forming grandiose geometric figures. Trapezoidal zones, strange symbols and images of birds and animals made on a gigantic scale can be seen inside and around them. They can be seen only from a height.
The drawings on the Nazca Plateau (the photos are placed further in the article) are divided into two categories: biomorphs and geoglyphs. The first are about 70 animals and plants, including a spider, a hummingbird, a monkey and a pelican 300 m long. Biomorphs are grouped in one area of the plain. Some archaeologists believe that they were created in 200 BC. er (about 500 years before geoglyphs). On the plain there are about 800 lines and 300 geometrical figures (including triangles, spirals, circles and trapezoids). Their size is quite impressive. The longest straight stretches for 15 km.
The coordinates of the Nazca Plateau are 14 ° 43′00 ″ south latitude and 75 ° 08′00 ″ west longitude.
Discovery and meaning
Images of the Nazca Plateau in Peru were discovered by a local archaeologist, Toribio Mejia Hessep, as early as 1927 while climbing the surrounding foothills. Since they are difficult to see from the surface of the earth, almost nothing was known about them until the 1930s, when an aerial survey of water sources was conducted here. A plain intersected by giant lines with a multitude of rectangles formed has a striking resemblance to a modern airport.
The Swiss writer Erich von Daniken even suggested that they were built for the convenience of landing the ships of the ancient space aliens. But, no matter how seductive this theory is, the Nazca Plateau is covered with loose rocky soil, which is not suitable for landing either an airplane or a flying saucer.
So how did these mysterious lines appear? American explorer Paul Kosok, who made his first visit to the Nazca Plateau in the 1940s, suggested that they had an astronomical purpose and that the plain acted as a giant observatory. He called them "the largest astronomical book in the world."Gerald Hawkins, an American astronomer, tested this theory in 1968 by laying the position of objects on a plateau in a computer and calculating how many of them coincide with important astronomical events. The scientist showed that the number of lines that have an astronomical value roughly corresponds to a coincidence. For this reason, this assumption is also unlikely.
Coscom was followed by a German woman, Maria Reiche, who studied glyphs for 40 years and stubbornly defended her theories about their astronomical and calendar assignments. She single-handedly fought for the preservation of the Nazca Plateau and even lived in a small house near the desert in order to personally protect the images from reckless visitors.
Objects of worship?
One of the best theories, explaining the secrets of drawings on the Nazca plateau, belongs to the English researcher Tony Morrison. Studying the old folk customs of the people of the Andes, he discovered the tradition of conducting a religious procession in places connected by straight paths. Believers go from one place to another, praying and meditating. Often these are just small piles of stones. Morrison suggested that the lines of the Nazca Plateau are similar in purpose, but have a larger scale. Symbols may also have served as special places for religious ceremonies.
Creating geoglyphs required the efforts of the entire community for many centuries, which indicates the high significance of the plateau. Like the pyramids, giant statues and other monumental art, Nazca drawings speak of constancy. They declare: we are here and we are not moving. These are not nomads, not hunters or gatherers. This is an agricultural society. Of course, pre-scientific, which turned to magic and superstition (ie, religion) for help in the cultivation of crops. The people of the Nazca culture had knowledge of irrigation, planting, harvesting and distribution of the crop. But the weather was changeable. Everything could go smoothly for many years or even centuries, and then in one generation entire communities were forced to leave the country due to prolonged droughts, floods, tides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, fires or something else.
Was the plateau a place of worship? Was it the Nazca Mecca, a place of pilgrimage? Were the images part of rituals aimed at appeasing the gods, or asking for fertility, weather, or water sources? The fact that the figures cannot be seen from the ground, but only from the sky, may not have been of great importance for religious or magical purposes.In any case, the images on the Nazca Plateau are decorated with ceramics found in nearby graves, and from the cemeteries it can be seen that the Indians were concerned about death. Mummified remains scattered throughout the desert. Was this a place of rituals whose goal was the immortality of the dead? We do not know, but if this secret is ever found out, it will be done by serious scientists, and not by pseudoscientific speculators who manipulate the data to fit their extraterrestrial speculations.
Who did it?
The Nazca Indians were an ancient prehistoric culture that successfully used engineering techniques to bring groundwater to the surface to irrigate crops. Some of the theories about the goals of geoglyphs associate them with the need for water. One of the largest settlements, Kahuachi, is a venue for ceremonies that goes to some of the lines. It contains more than 40 mounds, including pyramids made of clay.
Construction of lines
How were they built? The lines, apparently, were formed due to the fact that a 10–30-cm layer of reddish iron-covered pebble with white sand was removed from the desert surface. In other climatic conditions, wind, rain and erosion would erase traces of drawings over several years.However, on the Nazca plateau, the lines are preserved, because it is a calm, dry and isolated place.
Writer Jim Woodman believes that lines and figures could not have been made without directing work from the air, since nothing can be seen from the ground level. In his opinion, it is impossible to see the result from anywhere, except from above. The writer does not believe that the titanic efforts of the builders could be realized without a real opportunity to see the fruits of their labor. Woodman suggested that ancient balloons were used to inspect the site. To prove his hypothesis, he built an aircraft from materials that could be available to the Nazca culture. The writer made a successful flight, which lasted only 2 minutes. However, most researchers are skeptical about the findings of Woodman, because among the archaeological finds there is no evidence in the form of any designs or evidence of flights on balloons.
How were the geoglyphs made?
It is more likely that the people of the Nazca culture used simple methods. Straight lines can be easily laid over long distances with simple tools. Two wooden poles at the ends of the segment is enough to guide the third.One person who is in line with the first two poles can instruct the second on where to place the third. This can be repeated as many times as necessary in order to hold an almost perfect straight for many kilometers. Proof of the use of this particular method are the remains of the poles found at the ends of some lines.
The images on the Nazca Plateau were probably created by dividing a small sketch of the figure into squares and then transferring them in full scale. The surface of the desert was marked up with a grid, and then work was carried out in each separate square in turn.
Contact with water?
Recently, researchers David Johnson and Steve Maby put forward the theory that geoglyphs can be associated with water. The Nazca Plateau is one of the driest places on Earth - on average, 4 mm of precipitation falls here a year. Johnson, studying the sources of water in the region, noticed that the ancient aqueducts "pukios" are associated with some lines. He suggested that the figures represent a giant map of underground water sources. Mabi is working on collecting evidence that could support this theory.
The study of pictures of the Nazca plateau from the satellite allowed scientists of the National Scientific Council in Rome to assume that they had a good hypothesis of the origin of mysterious lines, also associated with the most precious resource in the desert. According to them, the Indians were able to use underground water sources for irrigation and build aqueducts for farming, thus turning the desert into a garden. Photos of the Nazca plateau from the satellite were used to study unusual structures found near the lines, spiral-shaped depressions called “pukios”. This allowed scientists to look under the surface of the earth, identify the underground channels connecting these objects, and understand that they are part of an extensive ancient aqueduct system. On them water flowed into the region, where the Nazca culture Indians lived and were engaged in agriculture. Partly, the pressure was created due to the spiral-shaped depressions, which, with the wind, directed the air flow into the underground channels. It does not contradict the fact that the drawings are considered ceremonial and are associated with water. Because nearby structures are part of a complex systemwater supply, ritual images could indicate the location of the source and express gratitude for it. According to the researchers, the Pukios and the geoglyphs of the Nazca Plateau have one purpose, since water was required for survival in the desert. And the images were thanks to the gods for that.
Some are still not satisfied with this explanation of the mystery of the Nazca Plateau and consider the pictures as messages sent to ancient aliens, or suggest the invention of balloons by the Indians to review their work. But these theories are trying to explain the ancient mystery from the modern point of view. If the pictures are evaluated only by the fact that they are visible from a height, then everything ends up trying to figure out how this was possible. But if you understand the relationship of the figures on the Nazca plateau to the sources of water, geoglyphs begin to seem not so impossible.
Other scientists are more skeptical, but recognize that in a region where finding water is vital for survival, there may well be some connection between the ceremonial designation of lines and water. Johan Reinhard, an anthropologist of the National Geographic Society, discovered that the inhabitants of Bolivia made religious processions from one place to another along straight paths, praying and dancing in the rain.Something similar could be done with ancient Nazca drawings.
The recently found remains without a head suggest that the Nazca people performed human sacrifices during religious ceremonies. According to a researcher from Texas State University, decapitation was part of the rituals, the purpose of which was to eliminate fears and call ancestors to ensure fertility and preserve the race. Cutting off the head of La Tiza seems to have been part of the ritual associated with ensuring a good harvest and continuing the life of the community. The found remains are one of the 8 decapitated bodies found in the area of the Nazca Plateau. A ceramic vessel with an image of a head was discovered near the remains. In the figure of a head grows a tree on which, in turn, grow eyes. This seems to indicate that the sacrifice was part of the fertility ceremony.
What happened to the heads of the victims? It is known that the Indians of the Nazca culture collected "trophy heads". They removed the brain and soft tissue from the skulls, stitched their lips with cactus needles, and drilled a hole in their forehead to make a loop of woven rope. Then heads hung on the ropes for viewing.Initially, they were considered war trophies taken from distant tribes, but DNA analysis showed that the heads were cut off from representatives of the Nazca culture, presumably for religious reasons.
Other South American lines and shapes
Visible satellite images on the Nazca Plateau are not the only geoglyphs in South America. 1400 km to the south is the largest human figure in the world laid out on the slopes of the Solitary Mountain in Chile. The giant Atacama is 120 m tall and is surrounded by lines resembling the Nazca geoglyphs. A figure resembling a giant candelabrum is carved along the Pacific coast in the foothills of the Andes. Further south, Sierra Pintada (in Spanish “painted mountain”) is covered with extensive paintings, including spirals, circles, warriors and condors. Archaeologists believe that these images, clearly visible from the ground, served as landmarks for Inca merchants.