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Nazca Geoglyphs – the great mystery of the Peruvian Desert


The Nazca Desert Plateau (Nazca) is a lithospheric plate on the southern coast of Peru as part of the Atacama Desert. Mysterious Peruvian geoglyphs are giant geometric shapes on a solid surface, including, according to recent data, about 358 drawings, about 13 thousand lines and 700 geometric shapes – triangles, trapezoids and spirals. Who created these unique objects, when and why? The mystery remains unsolved to this day...

Geoglyphs on the Nazca plateau were discovered by Spanish conquistadors in the middle of the XVI century, and officially confirmed since 1939, during the first flights over the Nazca plateau. In 1994, all of them were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Work on the discovery of new objects is still underway. The research team has been searching for geoglyphs in this area for more than a decade.

The Nazca lines are one of the most mysterious trajectories on the surface of the Peruvian desert

With the help of aerial photography, archaeologists recently discovered 168 more previously unknown objects. The geoglyphs were found during field work carried out by scientists from Yamagata University in Japan together with Jorge Olano, chief archaeologist of the Nazca Lines research program.

The uniqueness of Peruvian geoglyphs is that they have no analogues anywhere in the world. There is still no consensus on the origin of the drawings, which were made in the form of deep furrows partially lined with stones, and the purpose of their creation, despite many years of research.

Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines, Nazca, Peru

Nazca lines are geoglyphs consisting of lines and geometric shapes engraved on the surface of the plateau.

While scientists still disagree on the exact meaning of the lines, everyone can agree that they most likely were not made by extraterrestrial civilizations. One of the most convincing versions proposed by archaeologist Anthony Aven and his colleagues claims that the Nazca lines traced important trajectories of groundwater sources. The vast majority of Nazca lines are straight lines that run parallel, converge or intersect with each other. In an excessively dry desert climate that receives less than one inch of precipitation per year, access to fresh water would have been a major problem for the ancient Nazca peoples.

Anyway, there is still no single version of the origin of the mysterious engravings.

Andean Candelabra

Geoglyph Candelabra, Nazca, Peru

"Las Tres Cruces" or "Three Crosses", as the locals called it, is a geoglyph drawing on sandy soil, near the city of Pisco in Peru. The geoglyph was excavated in the coastal slope of the protected area of the Paracas Peninsula, consisting of dense sand and soil. The walls of the trenches are lined with stone, which helped to preserve the contours of the furrows. And the precipitation, which is rare for these areas, has contributed to the recognizable appearance for such a long time. The depth of the ditches is about 60 cm. The size of the drawing is 128 m long, about 74 m wide, and the line thickness is from 1.5 to 4 m.

The estimated age of the geoglyph is about 2500 years. There are many legends and hypotheses about the origin of the Paracas Candelabra, which have not been confirmed in any way. Some suggest that the Candelabra points to the Nazca lines, but they are more than 200 km from the geoglyph.

Other researchers are inclined to the religious version of the inscription, and the locals consider it an element of the cult of Viracocha, an ancient Incan deity. There is also the idea that the geoglyph could serve as a lighthouse for seafarers – its location and gigantic size allow you to see it from the sea at a distance of 20 km. The versions of the "yellow press" were not without aliens, masons, hidden treasures and ritual altars.

The only reliable fact is that the Andean Candelabra is a very ancient creation. It is claimed that the geoglyph was created by representatives of the Paracassian civilization, the descendants of which are the Nazca culture. How this man–made structure survived erosion, weather conditions and other possible influences remains a mystery.

If you want to see the Andean Candelabra with your own eyes, then it is best to go on a boat trip – this masterpiece can be viewed very well from the sea.


The geoglyph "Star", Estrella de Palpa

The Estrella de Palpa geoglyph is located on the Palpa Plateau, near the Nazca Plateau. The drawing, which is exactly what the image actually looks like, is made on an uneven surface in an unknown way on an area of about 150x150m.

The purpose of this scheme has been breaking the minds of researchers for years. It is very likely that the information is encrypted in the drawing, it differs from other geoglyphs by the predominance of figures assembled into a single geometric composition.


Geoglyph "Cat", Nazca, Peru

The "cat" had been "hiding" under a layer of rocks and sand for a long time and was discovered during maintenance work on the slope at a tourist viewpoint. Archaeologists date the newly discovered find to 2000 years ago. The Peruvian Ministry of Culture said that the figure is barely visible and is about to disappear again due to its location on a rather steep slope from the effects of natural soil erosion. Representatives of the scientific community also added that images of this type of cats are often found in iconography on ceramics and textiles in Paracas.

Today, the descent on the hillside where the cat was found is very popular among tourists.

A spider, an ant, or a tick?

The direct zoological identification of an archaeological site among geoglyphs in Peru has turned into a stormy scientific debate.

One of the most famous Peruvian Nazca geoglyphs has traditionally been identified as a spider. The first zoologists to publicly study this Peruvian geoglyph are de Andrade and Baroni Urbani. They rejected the interpretation of the spider and suggested that the famous Nazca geoglyph is an ant, not a spider. In their research, the scientists went so far as to identify the ant as Cephalotes atratus (Linnaeus), an arboreal species well studied today on large single trees in Peru.

The National Geographic Society rejected this version and the spider returned to its territory. But the resonance began to have force and another funny assumption in the interpretation of the insect was revealed: the bottom line is that zoologists agreed that Ricinulei are ticks, not spiders. Therefore, those who insist on the interpretation of ticks can now refer to the contour of the figure of this geoglyph as the "Nazca Tick".

Like some other animal symbols in the Nazca geoglyphs, the "Spider" has an entry and exit point, which allows you to walk around the entire object without crossing the line.


"Astronaut" is perhaps one of the most unusual drawings of a humanoid figure in the geoglyphs of the Nazca Plateau. Only one drawing is known, among others, depicting a humanoid creature, 30 meters high (there are about a dozen more images of human beings on the neighboring Palpa plateau).

Whale or killer whale

The geoglyph "Whale" is one of the most ancient on the Peruvian Nazca plateau


Birds on geoglyphs in Peru are the most common figurative images, there are 16 in total. Early versions stated that the Indians depicted mainly local birds, but research suggests a misinterpretation of some objects. In particular, scientists have discovered images of bird species that have never been found in these territories.

The geoglyph "Flying Hummingbird" of Nazca, Peru

This geoglyph is a "Flying Hummingbird", so named due to its long beak and characteristic three–toed legs. The involvement of ornithologists helped clarify that this is a representative of the hermit hummingbird family (Phaethornithinae). Other native hummingbird species have a different tail. Hermit hummingbirds live in the forests of Northern and Eastern Peru, and not in its southern part, where these geoglyphs were discovered. It is also unlikely that this species existed in this area at that time.

Many birds from the geoglyphs depicted on the plateau are found in remote regions. Scientists continue to work and compare the geoglyphs with other bird drawings found on ceramics in order to identify the remaining ones.

There are images of pelicans on the desert plateau of Nazca. One geoglyph depicts a pelican's head in profile and neck. The second pelican was identified by a tuft of feathers and a long beak. Pelicans are the only birds in Peru with such a structure. But they all live far from the place where these geoglyphs were found.

This strange squiggly bird with a zigzag neck and a long beak was previously designated as the Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis). However, this version was not confirmed later. Perhaps the geoglyph is a "collection hodgepodge" of several species of birds at once — storks, herons and other representatives of birds.

Also, parrots and bird species unknown to ornithologists are often found on geoglyphs, which still cannot be identified in any way.

A monkey

Geoglyph "Monkey", Nazca, Peru

The centipede

Not so long ago, Japanese scientists found a new geoglyph on the Nazca plateau, which was dubbed the "Millipede". The length of the find reaches 30 meters. The drawing outlines the image of an animal with many legs and a protruding tongue. In addition, he has several spots. Experts believe that the drawing may be related to the ritual status of the Cahuachi area, which includes about 40 mounds topped with small structures.

It is noted that the method of applying this geoglyph is somewhat different from other images. The drawing is made on light soil covered with dark gravel.


March 19, 2024 04:50 pm



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