Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Truth behind the Nazca Lines?

Author: Erin McLaughlin

Monkey image of the Nazca lines
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?
            In 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).
            There 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 (Click here to find out more!"Evidence 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 plateau
            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?

Works Cited:
Alien or Astronaut. Photograph. OurWildRide.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2012.
Aron, Paul. Unsolved Mysteries of History. New York. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000. Print.
"Evidence of Ancient Aliens?" History.com. A&E Television Networks, LLC. 2012. Web. 23       Oct. 2012.

Nazca Lines Monkey. Photograph. ParadiseInTheWorld.com. Paradise in the World. 2012. Web. 26 Oct. 2012.

"The Nasca Lines -Aliens Landing Strips?" TruthBehindtheScenes.org. Truth Behind the Scenes, 2012. Web. 22 Oct. 2012.

Oliveto, Joseph. "The Mystery of the Nazca Lines." WeirdWorm.com. Weirdworm. 2 Oct. 2010.   Web. 24 Oct. 2012

Pallete, G. Nazca Lines Trapezium figures. Photograph. Go2Peru.com. COMELTUR. 2000.         Web. 26 Oct. 2012. 

Links for Further Research:
Ancient Aliens Blog
A blog dedicated to ancient alien theories. This entry talks about the Nazca lines.

Between The Nazca Lines: Evidence Vs. “I Wanna Believe”
A person's article on a website discussing her opinion on the ancient alien theory. She disagrees.

National Geographic
Firsthand account by a researcher visiting the Nazca lines. The article contains information about ancient Nazca culture.

The Nazca Lines and the "Eye in the Sky"
Author of the web page discusses the alien theory and religious theory behind the Nazca lines. This person believes that the Nazca created the lines for non-alien deities.


  1. I saw a National Geographic special where they theorise the Nazca lines were a ritual path that believers walked for some religious purpose. They were able to recreate some large-scale geoglyphs using sticks and rope. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnlLSHQdRxk

    I like your piece's objectivity and science-based approach.