Study may have solved the mystery of the Nazca Lines

A study by archaeologists from Yamagata University, suggests a new theory that may have solved the mystery of the Nazca Lines.

The Nazca Lines are a group of geoglyphs in the soil of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were made by the Nazca, a distinct archaeological culture from the preceding Paracas culture, having settled in the valley of the Rio Grande de Nazca drainage and the Ica Valley.

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The geoglyphs were made by excavating shallow trenches in the ground, and removing the reddish-brown, iron oxide-coated pebbles that cover the surface of the desert. This exposes the light-coloured clay and lime earth, contrasting against the surrounding land surface to reveal distinct patterns only visible from the air.

The first description of the Nazca Lines was by Pedro Cieza de León, in his Chronicle of Peru published in 1553, where he describes them as trail markers in the desert. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the scale of the geoglyphs would be revealed to the wider world, leading to the discovery of around 358 known geoglyphs to date.

In recent years, archaeologists from the Yamagata University have been conducting a field survey of the Nazca Lines using high-resolution aerial photography and drones.
The researchers are convinced that the Nazca lines were used as an ancient form of communication in the Nazca Desert.

The linear types were used to travel from one valley to another, while the relief types (that depict animals, birds and various figures), tend to be drawn on slopes alongside ancient pathways. Due to this, the researchers suggest that the figures marked the routes for communication between settlements.

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The team from Yamagata University also recently discovered 168 geoglyphs that date from between 100 BC and AD 300. This adds to 190 geoglyphs discovered between 2004 and 2018, leading to the creation of an archaeological park in the Aja area in 2017 by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

Contributing Source – El Debate

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock


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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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