The world is a mysterious place. The can of mystery highlights some of those mysteries. This site is a class project for Amanda Warren's English 101 class at the University of South Carolina Aiken.
Articles are uploaded once a year (on average) in the fall and/or spring.
If you have questions or tips on mysteries, please leave a comment or contact AmandaW at USCA dot EDU.
The Nazca lines are very large
geoglyphs, pictures drawn in the earth by moving rocks and other objects,
located in the Nazca desert in southern Peru.
The drawings in the sands depict a killer whale, a spider, an
"astronaut", a monkey, and a heron as well as lines and geometric
figures ("The Nazca Lines--Alien Landing Strips?"). Since their
initial discovery in the 1920's by Alfred Kroeber and Toribio Mejia much
controversy has surrounded the geoglyphs. The fact the full figures of the
Nazca Lines are only visible from very high in the sky (in aircraft) has
sparked many theories as to the purpose and meaning of the lines themselves
(Aron 52). Who were the pictures intended for and what inspired the ancient
Nazca to create the images?
his book Unsolved Mysteries of History
Paul Aron describes the discovery of the Nazca Lines and some studies that have
been conducted on the geoglyphs. Aron states when Kroeber and Mejia first
stumbled upon the Nazca Lines in 1926 they were at ground level and therefore
thought the lines were nothing more than an ancient irrigation system; both
archeologists were content with ending their investigation there. The lines
finally gained more recognition in the 1930's when commercial flights began to
fly over Peru. It was then that people finally saw that the lines in the desert
actually formed pictures in the sand. Consequently, archeologists became very
interested in the lines. Upon investigation of the lines themselves and the
area around them, scientists found remains of pottery that were over two
thousand years old; they estimated the lines had to have been equally
aged. The arid and virtually windless
environment in which the lines lie allowed them to be preserved for many
generations. The first in depth study of the lines was performed in 1941 by
Paul Kosok, an American historian. Kosok noticed that as the sun was setting on
the Nazca lines, the position of the sun and the lines were actually in
alignment. Kosok hypothesized that the lines must be a sort of large-scale
astronomical calendar. Upon further investigation, however, he and his colleges
found that more lines did not match up with astronomical bodies than those that
did. Therefore, the theory could not be proved correct (52-55).
are many more theories surrounding the Nazca lines, however. The subterranean
water theory, proposed by researcher David
Johnson, suggests that the Nazca lines actually marked underground water
systems ("The Nazca Lines--Alien Landing Strips?"). A popular theory
among archeologists proposes that the lines and images were a form of religious
art made for sky-dwelling deities (Oliveto). The most well-known and
controversial theory first proposed by Erich Von Daniken in his book Chariot of the Gods? says
that the lines and the images were the Nazca's way of communicating with
extraterrestrials (Aron 53).
Däniken and other ancient alien theorists believe that
beings from other planets visited earth in the past and lent some of their
culture and technology to ancient cultures, thus helping the world become what
it is today. When it comes to the Nazca lines, these theorists suggest that the
full pictures were a way of directing the aliens to their civilization while
the individual lines served as runways for the aliens to land their spacecrafts
of Ancient Aliens?").
Do they look like runways to you?
The image of a
strange-looking human or "astronaut" depicted in the Nazca lines
perpetuates the theory even further as some supporters of the ancient alien
theory say the Nazca modeled it after their space-traveling acquaintances. In
addition to those that believe the lines were created for aliens, some are
convinced that aliens made the Nazca lines all on their own with no interaction
with humans (Oliveto).
"Astronaut" image carved into a
No theory pertaining to the Nazca lines has yet to be
entirely proved or entirely disproved. Were they irrigation systems, spiritual
art, an astronomical map, a map to much-needed water sources, communication to
or from aliens, or simply pretty pictures in the sand? Without direct
scientific proof these theories will continue to be debated, and perhaps more
theories will continue to form for many decades to come. What do you think the
Nazca lines truly mean?