What Are Nazca Lines?

Commonly known as the Nazca Lines, the Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca Pampas de Jumana create one of the most extraordinary human-made sites one could ever imagine. Located in southern Peru, they resemble an ancient civilization’s magnificent culture and rich heritage, living between the 8th century BC and 8th century AD. The ancient inhabitants drew the lines for over two thousand years, creating thousands of different geoglyphs in the arid ground. Despite passing centuries, the lines are still marvelous and invaluable.

The Precise Geoglyphs

Nazca Lines are geoglyphs- simply speaking, a large design on the ground, made from stones and dirt and visible from far above the Earth’s surface. Moreover, the Nazca geoglyphs are unmatched in their precision, size, cultural continuity, and diversity to any other ancient or modern civilization. The creations demonstrate various creatures- animals, man-like figures, and complex, geometrical lines. They were created with remarkable precision; each design has a perfect geometry. Over 70 zoomorphic designs represent various animals known to the ancient people, with the largest being over 370 meters.

Nazca lines present various figures, for example a spider

Meaning of the Glyphs

Creating the lines was an important tradition; the activity lasted over a thousand years among the ancient civilization. The oldest ones are over two and a half thousand years old, whereas the youngest- “merely” over a thousand and a half. Though scientists cannot determine the purpose of the lines, one hypothesis suggests that they were created to be seen by deities in the sky. Another hypothesis suggests that the lines made up some astronomical observatory- they were supposed to point to different celestial bodies. However, a recent study found evidence that at least some of the geoglyphs were created for irrigation and managing the distribution of freshwater in the desert. In conclusion, the exact purpose of the lines remains unknown.


The Nazca lines lay near Peru’s coast, about 400 square kilometers from the country’s capital. They cover over 450 square kilometers of the coastal plain surrounding the Rio Grande basin. The region remains an archaeological site and is constantly being researched. The site occupies over 750 square kilometers.

Nazca lines, mysterious geoglyphs,  are located in Peru

The Creation of Nazca Lines

As mentioned before, the lines were created quite systematically for over a thousand years. They are also very diverse- researchers divide them into three main groups. The first group consists of schematic natural forms (such as plants and animals), the second of lines forming various geometric shapes, and the other so-called “tracks”- lines that seem to be created to accommodate a large number of people. However, the methodology of creating each design was pretty similar. The ancient people removed a layer of iron-oxide pebbles, covering the desert, to reveal brighter sand below. They probably used grids made from ropes to create such complex and precise designs.

Map of the Nazca lines

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Recent Impact

New Theories of Origin

The lines are believed to have a huge meaning in the culture of the ancient people, though new research discards the previous hypotheses. “It seems likely that most of the lines did not point at anything on the geographical or celestial horizon, but rather led to places where rituals were performed to obtain water and fertility of crops,” wrote Reinhard in his book The Nasca Lines: A New Perspective on their Origin and Meanings. Another theory suggests the rituals were connected with obtaining water for the tribe.

A Nazca Run

In 2016 Joseph Tame, preparing for the Tokyo marathon, decided to design a Nazca design for his training program. He ran from place to place to achieve the hummingbird effect, connecting the dots of his run on Google Earth. Afterward, the program created a picture from connected points. Overall, it was over 242 kilometers of running, an imaginative way to train for the marathon, and a reminder of the extraordinary Nazca Lines.

A conspiracy theory suggests Nazca Lines can be found in Tokyo

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