Lines from the Past

Preeti Verma Lal – 2nd October, 2016

Nazca Lines in Peru, the ancient geometric motifs and designs which have stood the vagaries of time and nature for more than 2,000 years, have intrigued scientists and scholars alike

IF ever you are flying off Lima, the capital of Peru, towards the Nazca Desert, grab the window seat. And look down. Soon, magic will start unfolding. A large painted canvas will appear on the brown landscape, Colossal geometric lines, A gigantic pelican, A humming bird, A tree, Llamas, Jaguars, Monkeys, Humans, Large motifs that seem scratched on earth with a deft artist. These are the Nazca Lines, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where a condor is 440 ft, the spider 150 ft, the hummingbird 310 ft. Imagine peeping out of the aircraft window for a canvas so colossal and an ancient art so riveting.

Housed between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Papas de Jumana (400 km south of Lima), the Nazca Lines are believed to have been created between 500 BC and 500 AD. Composed of more than 10,000 lines, some as wide as 30 metres and 9-km-long, the Nazca Lines has nearly 300 different figures including hundreds of geoglyphs (geometric lines), zoomorphic designs of animals and birds, and a few phytomorphic motifs such as trees and flowers.

Though the Lines were first mentioned in 1553 by Pedro Cieza de Leon, history remained oblivious until Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe spotted these in 1927 during a hiking trail. However, US explorer/historian Paul Kosok is credited as the first scholar to seriously study the Nazca Lines.

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