Japanese researchers are minutely scrutinizing photographs of an iconic World Heritage Site, the Nazca Lines in Peru. These massive land drawings have intrigued and puzzled experts for decades. But these scientists are on the brink of a startling reinterpretation of some of them. And their findings upset existing theories about the purpose of the vast symbols.
The Nazca Lines are set on a desert plateau in southern Peru, some 250 miles from the country’s capital, Lima. The plateau extends for around 50 miles between the towns of Palpa and Nazca. And the most famous of the Nazca images appear in an area measuring about six by two miles, near the village of San Miguel de la Pascana.
These lines are actually called geoglyphs. A geoglyph is a large image drawn into the land by moving surface stones to create an outline. In the case of the Nazca Lines, the red-hued pebbles that form the surface layer of the desert have been scraped aside to reveal the lighter colored clay that lies beneath.
Many of the Nazca geoglyphs are simply lines or shapes which run across the desert surface. And the best-known are actually figurative images representing various animals and plants. Indeed, they include drawings of some 70 different creatures, such as a monkey, a spider and a jaguar. There is also a variety of different birds.