The Nazca Lines—A UFO Spaceport?
By “Awake!” correspondent in Peru
FROM an airplane high over Peru can be seen enormous drawings, stylized pictures of animals and birds and geometric designs. These unusual markings appear on the Plains of Nazca, a desert drier than the Sahara. Who made them? And why?
For centuries these designs, known as the Nazca Lines, were ignored. They were practically hidden, due to their huge size and because of being drawn on a flat plain without any high vantage points for viewing.
Hidden art! Invisible! Too big to be seen from the ground! A real enigma! To be seen and appreciated completely, the lines had to wait for the invention of the airplane. In 1927, while flying a vintage biplane over this area about 450 km (280 miles) to the south of Lima, a pilot noticed these strange markings. But he took no special interest in them. However, in 1939 Dr. Paul Kosok, who came to Peru to make a study of ancient irrigation canals, recognized the drawings as something unique.
Their rather modern discovery has aroused much curiosity and speculation about their origin and purpose. Since the markings can be appreciated only from the air, are they in some way connected with “flying saucers” or unidentified flying objects?
The originators of the lines, members of the Nazca/Paracas civilization, although advanced in many ways, did not leave a written record. Without such a record, many final answers about the Nazca Lines will have to wait for a future time. Yet much has been learned. One archaeologist, Maria Reiche, has spent the last 35 years trudging over the plains, measuring tape in hand, to try to find some of the answers to the enigma of the Nazca Lines. What have she and other archaeologists discovered?
The Plains of Nazca, subjected for centuries to the prevailing winds from the southwest, have become an ideal drawing board. The wind has removed any loose sand from the surface and left a covering of dark-brown, iron-oxide pebbles and rocks. However, when this outer layer of several inches is removed, it lays bare a lighter, yellowish-colored subsoil. Those ancients who made the lines just removed the surface covering to make their designs. Due to favorable climatic conditions—practically no rain—the lines have remained intact for over 1,000 years.
Engraved on the plains are huge spiders, birds, killer whales, triangles, trapezoids, straight lines several kilometers in length and other designs, all of which are observable from the air. A huge hummingbird has a total length of 300 m (980 feet) with a 60-m (197-foot) wingspan. Another, an enormous killer whale, with what looks like a human head hanging from its mouth, gives testimony to the head-hunting of the Nazcas. There is also a frigate bird with a wingspan of 150 m (490 feet), testimony to their close contact with the sea. One of the favorites among viewers is the spider, perhaps representing one of the many constellations of the southern hemisphere. Then, pointing to the fact that the Nazcas developed clothmaking to a fine art, there is what looks like a gigantic needle with its zigzagging thread. Many of the large designs on the plains are very similar to the designs found on their woven garments and ceramic pottery.
Another, the monkey, is a stylized drawing of just the outline of the figure; the head does not have any eyes, nose or mouth. The drawing is 80 m (262 feet) long. An outstanding feature is the huge curled tail, some 30 m (98 feet) across. The tail ends up in a large spiral, a design that is found repeatedly in the Nazca Lines. It is also very similar to a basic Oriental design, called the Mandala, said to represent the universe. If there is a connection with that idea, it may indicate that the drawings are actually a huge stellar map.
To confirm further the idea that the drawings represent a celestial map, the beak of the hummingbird ends in a series of noteworthy lines, the last of which points to the sunrise on the 21st of December. Another bird figure is connected with the rising sun, its beak pointing to where the sun rises on the 24th of June, the date of the religious celebration of the Incas to honor the sun.
Making the Designs
How did they make these drawings if they could not see the completed design? It certainly was not possible to do so haphazardly. It required abstract thought and some knowledge of geometric designs. Evidently they carefully planned their drawings, making them to scale and then transferring them to the plains with the aid of stakes and ropes.
Twenty-six m (85 feet) seems to be a constantly recurring length in the drawings. Evidently the unit of measurement was some subdivision of this length. A length that is consistently repeated, 1.3 m (4.3 feet), is considered to be that subdivision. This length could have been arrived at by a Peruvian of that time as the distance between the fingertips of the fully outstretched arms. This would be a natural length. All the units of length are either this basic unit, its multiples or a fraction of it. It has been suggested that the designs may have some numerical message encoded within them by the use of this basic unit of measurement. But to date no one has been able to decipher it.
Why Were They Drawn?
Although the lines are not completely understood, enough has been learned to discard any connection with UFO’s.
The idea that the Nazca/Paracas civilization needed help from outer space to make these designs belittles their intelligence (any high school student with basic knowledge of geometry could duplicate the drawings with stakes and cords) and is not in accord with their other accomplishments.
For example, they developed excellent irrigation systems due to an underground flow of water in a riverbed that is dry for most of the year. They discovered beneath the riverbed a layer of clay that prevented the water from filtering down into the ground. Even though the surface waters apparently dried up, there was water underneath flowing along the top of this layer of clay. Taking advantage of this, they built underground tunnels or galleries to collect the water and distribute it to their fields. Some of these water collectors have a flow of 30 L (8 gallons) of water per second. So even though they lived in a very dry, inhospitable climate, they were able to provide themselves with a year-round supply of water originating high up in the Andes mountain range.
Also, the Nazca/Paracas civilization is famous for its excellent woven cloth, much of which has been found in ancient burial grounds. Using handlooms, they perfected the art of weaving, making some of the finest pieces of cloth found in any ancient civilization. Additionally, their pottery is world famous for its artistic design.
Other archaeological discoveries reveal that they were astronomers, observing the stars in connection with their religion. They, like the Incas, worshiped the sun, the moon and the stars. Dr. Guillermo Illescas, a Peruvian archaeologist, is sure that certain figures such as the monkey and the spider, and perhaps all of them, represent constellations of stars. Just as other civilizations invented figures to describe and picture certain constellations (for example, the Babylonians used animals such as Leo the lion, the Crab and others), he says the Nazcas used the hummingbird, the monkey, the spider and other designs to picture constellations in the southern hemisphere.
Besides, it has been definitely proved that many of the straight lines pinpoint certain positions of the sun during the year, such as the southern winter solstice, the 21st of June. Other lines possibly mark the position of the sun in relation to the planting of crops and harvesting.
Since all the activities of the Nazca culture were bound up in their religious activities, it is believed that the lines have a religious significance. The designs were undoubtedly made by the priestly class and executed as a part of their religious activities. Were they made to be seen by their gods? Perhaps, but they had nothing to do with visitors from other planets.
Could it be that there was some humor involved—the very idea of making something so big that no one could see all of it, not even they themselves? There was also the challenge of enlarging smaller designs and transferring these to the desert floor.
Other civilizations, too, had monuments that were too large to be fully viewed from the ground, thus being hidden from the ordinary observer. For example, drawn on the desert at Blythe, California, is a human figure over 50 m (164 feet) in length. Another monument, representing a snake eating an egg, is found in the state of Ohio. It is one m (3.3 feet) high and 400 m (1,310 feet) in length and cannot be observed in its entirety from the ground. Still another, found in southern England, is called the White Horse of Uffington, some 100 m (330 feet) in length. And in Japan is found the Tomb of Yamatotohimomosohime; it is in the shape of a giant keyhole. None of these could be seen as a whole by observers on the ground.
Why were these monuments made? No one can say for sure. But the existence of the Nazca Lines surely testifies to the mental ability of the Nazcas, whose civilization flourished along the Peruvian coast from 300 B.C.E. to 900 C.E. Since Jehovah God has promised a resurrection of the “righteous” and the “unrighteous” (Acts 24:15), surely many of the ancient Nazcas will be among those raised to life on earth in God’s new order. So questions that perplex us now will be answered then. Who could better explain the meanings of the Nazca Lines than those who made them?