Nazca Lines: Messages to Heaven
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Nazca Lines: Messages to Heaven

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Nazca Lines: Messages to Heaven

These ancient geoglyphs that inhabit the desert of the cities of Nasca and Palpa, in the Ica region (south of Lima, the Peruvian capital) are unknown to even the most experienced archaeologists. Nobody knows who, how and why they did it.


There are even theories that these historic traces (promoted by the Swiss scientist Erich Von Däniken), considered a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), were made by beings that They are not from this planet. That's right, by aliens. However, while the mystery of the Nasca Lines is being solved, they develop as a tourist attraction for adults and children.


Spectacular figures

Its imposing forms, made of a single stroke and with a pulse that does not seem human, are liked by all who visit them. Impressive wherever you see them, although to appreciate them in their full splendor you would have to take one of the three paths already outlined: climb the surrounding mountains (on foot), locate one of the observation towers that exist in the area (up to 12 meters high) or hire the service of a small plane. In the latter, don't worry, it will have a pilot in charge of the adventure through the skies.


The study and conservation of these ancient messages were promoted -mostly- by the German archaeologist Maria Reiche, considered the pioneer in her research. Although, she should not be confused with her discoverer: the American anthropologist Paul Kosok, who suggested that these figures represented an astronomical calendar.


Among the almost 800 figures found to date, those of the hummingbird, the condor, the pelican, the monkey and the spider stand out. These are the most famous and the most frequently seen, since they are preferred by the public due to their size -some up to 300 meters- and state of conservation. Being in a land with a privileged climate (very little rain) and sheltered from strong winds thanks to the large sand hills that surround them, they have not been modified by nature.


As they are geoglyphs with more than a millennium on them (according to studies, the Nasca Lines were created between 500 BC and 500 AD), many of the interested professionals, including archaeologists and anthropologists, they are surprised by how well reserved they are to date.


Getting to the Nasca Lines from Lima, the capital of Peru, is quite simple: you can take a bus to Ica (approximately four hours) and, from the southern region, hire a specialized service that will take you to Nasca. These can be by bus, van or taxis that already know the route perfectly. The estimated time to get from Ica to Nasca is a little over two hours. The other alternative to get there from Lima is to take a single trip in a private car: it will be a little more than six hours full of adventure through the Panamericana Sur highway.


The mystery may not be solved, but the Nasca Lines are there, in full view and patience of all those curious who wish to discover them, to amaze the sight of all those who dare to fly through the air to witness them.


Characteristics of the Nazca lines

Research suggests that the Nazca lines were produced over 1,500 years, a process that came to an end around the 16th century.


According to some sources, the Nazca lines stand out because they cover about 400 square kilometers. Other sources indicate that they can cover up to 800 km2. In any case, they are the largest in the world.


The width of each line can vary between 40 and 210 centimeters wide. Just as the width of the lines varies, obviously the length of each line depends on the layout. There may be lines of up to 295 meters. The depth of the furrows also varies from simple shallow indentations to trenches of no more than 30 meters.


Throughout this territory, we find the representation of figures such as animals, fantastic creatures, geometric elements such as trapezoids, rectangles, spirals and lines, etc. Anthropomorphic representation is also included.


Among the animal figures we can mention the following: monkey, spider, heron, crane, pelican, hummingbird, snail, whale, dog, llamas, iguana, snake, lizard and lizard.


The Nazca lines are located in a terrain between blackish and reddish that, according to the incidence of light, modifies its tonalities. Thus, during the sunset, the lands of the Nazca desert acquire violet tones.

How were the Nazca lines made?


The Nazca lines were made through a subtraction process. This process was much simpler than is believed, since it did not require large investments or materials, or effort, or time.


Basically, the creators of these lines dedicated themselves to extracting a series of rusty rocks from the ground. These rocks, darkened by the oxidation process, were small and angular.


After subtracting the rocks, those layers not affected by the oxidation process were exposed and, therefore, retained a lighter color.


Thus, the darker extracted stones highlight the edges next to the exposed lines, which provides sharpness to the lines and facilitates their observation from a distance.


It is probable that the figures have been designed and executed using a grid system made of wood and ropes to transfer the models to scale.


The durability of the Nazca lines is related to the climate of the region, which is characterized by stable temperatures that oscillate around 25 degrees Celsius, the practically non-existent rainfall and the presence of hot air that causes the wind to deviate. which prevents erosion.


Theories about the meanings and functions of geoglyphs

Due to the fact that these monumental lines can be seen from the air, many speculations have arisen to explain their purpose.


In an article called "Nazca Lines: a new synthesis of data from the Pampas and the Valleys", Anthony Aveny and Helaine Silverman report that at least four different hypotheses can be recognized about their function, use and meaning that surround these geoglyphs in a sea of confusion: as an alien landing strip, as pre-Hispanic sports tracks, as a religious center or as an astronomical orientation system.


Landing Strip for Aliens

In 1971 a writer named Erich von Däniken, surprised by the characteristics of this place and supposing that its elaboration had been very complex, maintained that the Nazca geoglyphs were a landing strip for alien ships.


Tracks for pre-Hispanic Olympics

In 1980, Georg A. Von Breunig argued that they could be racetracks to celebrate a kind of days of sports competition, that is, a kind of Olympics, although they would be ritualistic.


Religious Purpose

In 1977, Jim Woodman's theory would suggest that the Nazca lines had religious purposes. Therefore, they would have been made to be observed by the gods and even by people who could have risen in the desert in aerostats. This implies that Woodman hypothesized that the Nazca culture handled elements of air navigation.


Astronomical Function

This theory, until now the most serious of all, was precisely proposed by Kosok, who from the observation of a sunset in Nazca, detected that some of the lines were oriented towards sunrise and sunset, while others were They were oriented towards the Pleiades.


In accordance with the investigations of Aveni and Silverman, Kosok's disciple, Marie Reiche, furthered this hypothesis and maintained that, in addition, these lines functioned as a calendar that takes into account the sun, the moon and the stars.


However, for Aveni and Silverman, this hypothesis, although serious, does not fully explain the Nazca phenomenon. The authors point out that both Kosok and Silverman overlook some elements that change the course of investigations.


In the first place, they do not take into account the fact that these geoglyphs were not made simultaneously, but that their elaboration was progressive. Secondly, the interpretation perspective on celestial phenomena is Eurocentric. Third, they openly ignore the problem of the sociocultural context in which the work is inserted. The fourth and last place, is not a unique phenomenon. In other words, according to Aveni and Silverman, other geoglyphs have also been located in the Lima Valley, in Supe, in the La Chincha valley, in Ica, in Pacatnamú, Bolivia and Chile, as we have already mentioned.


Aveni and Silverman's theory on geoglyphs

For Aveni and Silverman, who do not deny that the Nazca geoglyphs can function as an astronomical system and a calendar, it is necessary to understand that they account for other social, religious and political functions at the same time.


Thus, the solar orientations that, indeed, are recognizable in some of its lines, may have to do, rather, with a system of omens related to the arrival of water in this area, which is basically a desert. This theory is based on the fact that there is evidence that the choice of the location of the lines is linked to the direction of the hills and the water sources.


It is also possible, according to the authors' research, that the Nazca lines were related to the ceque system of the Inca culture. The ceques were imaginary radial lines used in Cuzco to plan the distribution of water according to social importance and, also, to fulfill religious functions. For Aveni, this could have applied in Nazca. It is also possible that some of the lines could have functioned as ceremonial pilgrimage roads, for example, and not just as simple communication routes.


Along with this, the researchers point out that there is an identity between the figures of the geoglyphs with the motifs that decorate the Nazca ceramics. Silverman carried out a series of excavations in Cahuachi (Nazca valley to the South of the Pampa), in which elements of a ceremonial center were discovered, endowed with a complex of geoglyphs that accompany pyramids, temples, squares and ritual offerings.


This information shows that, indeed, there are elements to believe that the Nazca monumental geoglyphs correspond to a complex sociocultural system, which in turn is confirmed by the discovery of at least 500 archaeological sites dating from the period to date. between the year 500 B.C. until the colonization of America. Part of these sites, according to the referred article, are civic-ceremonial centers, cemeteries, villages, other geoglyph systems (these are geometric and not biomorphic), etc.


Best Tours in Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.

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