Declared "Archaeological World Heritage Site" by UNESCO (1994).
The Nazca Lines are located in the arid Peruvian coastal plain, some 400 km south of Lima, the geoglyphs of Nazca and the pampas of Jumana cover about 450 sq. km.
The Nazca Lines, which were scratched on the surface of the ground between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500, are among archaeology's greatest enigmas because of their quantity, nature, size and continuity.
The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometers long. They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.
Maximum cultural expression of the Nazca civilization.
Just two hours from Ica, 50 square km of desert floor were covered centuries ago by vast drawings, figures of mammals, insects and deities. The Nazca Lines, discovered in 1927, are the most extraordinary legacy left by a culture that flourished in 300 BC. The lines are a series of complex designs, some up to 300 meters long which can only be seen in their true dimension from the sky, from an altitude of at least 1,500 feet. The Nazca culture is not believed to have been capable of manned flight. But the question remains as to how they crafted the drawings, what technology they used and what purpose the lines served.
Theories abound regarding these mysterious etchings, ranging from landing strips for aliens to a giant seismograph. The most probable theory is that of Maria Reiche, a German researcher who dedicated her life to studying the lines. Ms Reiche believed that the lines were part of a vast astronomic calendar whose figures marked different solar phases. Ms Reiche, affectionately nicknamed the Angel of the Plains by the local inhabitants, was the first to discover the ancient technique of digging into the tough and dry desert floor and covering the track with stones brought from distant sites. The component of natural plaster existing in the area helped to preserve for thousands of years the drawings: the hummingbird, the spider, the condor and the monkey, among the more than 30 figures etched into the plain.
The Nazca Plains (there are four areas in total: Palpa, Ingenio, Nazca and Socos) lie in the department of Ica, some 460 Km south of Lima. Like an embroidery of the gods, the lines that decorate the desert floor have been declared as Archaeological World Heritage Site by UNESCO (1994) , and the ancient mystery of the figures still waits to be unraveled.
Unique place in the world, full with mystery and mysticism, wonderful traces of immense figures and lines of spectacular perfection. Diverse scientific theories have been placed on these lines. Some theories only explain its possible construction associated to extraterrestrial beings.
The great constructions of observatories of astronomical cycles, well-known as the Nazca Lines, were used by the farmers to know and control the meteorological agrarian cycles, aside from their possible religious significance (Maria Reiche's theory).
The Nazca Lines are traced on San José and Socos desert plains, between the 419 and 465 Km. of the South Pan-American Highway, with an extension of 450 square km., near to Nazca city.
These lines form drawings of several kilometers in length and approximately 0.4 and 1.1 km in width, with animal, geometric and trapezoidal forms; some of which can only be seen in all their magnitude from an airplane. The figures of the spider, the monkey, the dog, the small lizard, the hummingbird, the condor, and the astronaut, among others, stand out.
The Nazca Lines were investigated scientifically for the first time by the Prof. German Paul Kosok, along with the Peruvian archeologists Julio C. Tello and T. Mejía Xesspe, denominated these lines as 'the biggest astronomy book of the world '. María Scholten carried out investigations to determine the mathematical unit of measure that was used in the construction. Their main investigator was Dr. Maria Reiche.
The Nazca Lines were discovered accidentally from an airplane in flight in 1927. By the end of the 1980's new lines were discovered.
On the Pan-American Highway some observation towers can be found, which allow a limited vision of the lines. The only possible way to appreciate them in all their magnitude, given their gigantic size, is flying over the area on a light plane.