Enigmas of the Archaeological World

From ‘lost cities’ to pyramids dedicated to the sun, Peru boasts many famous sites that are shrouded in mystery. Among the most puzzling, the Nazca Lines are one of the enigmas of the archaeological world, and the reason they were created has been hotly debated for decades.  

Archaeologist’s discovery

Said to have been discovered by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe, who spotted them whilst out hiking in 1927, they really came to light in the 1930s when they were seen from the air as aircraft flew overhead. The drawings are so huge that it’s hard to see them fully from the ground.   

Huge desert geoglyphs

These huge geoglyphs, some as big as a football field, are thought to have been etched into the desert between 200 BC and 600 AD. Each one consists of a number of conjoining straight or curved lines which form either some sort of figure or a geometric shape. They cover an area of roughly 37 miles in length and there are many theories surrounding them, including the belief by some that they were not formed by man.

Nazca Lines theories

More commonly the lines have been attributed to the Nazca civilisation, who it is believed made the shapes by removing the red pebbles of the desert surface to reveal lighter earth beneath. The lack of rain in what is one of the driest places on the planet, meant that they would be preserved forever. More perplexing though is just why they were created.

UFO landing strips

The theories range from reasonable scientific hypotheses to some quite bizarre suggestions. Here’s some of the most popular:

  • They are an astronomical observatory, as many of the lines point to constellations and can be tied to solstices and equinoxes.
  • They map underground water, a vital yet scarce resource for the desert-dwelling Nazca tribes.
  • The lines marked areas for rituals and sacrifices.
  • Each figure could be a marking for a different clan.
  • As they can only be seen clearly from the sky, they are thought to be messages to the gods.
  • They are UFO landing strips.

If you choose a holiday to Peru, maybe you’ll see the Nazca Lines for yourself and come up with your own theory as to why these UNESCO-listed works of art were created. Even if you’re left with no idea, they are a remarkable sight nonetheless.