Saturday 16 December 2023

A great Peruvian mystery

I don't think South America will ever stop to amaze me! We've been in Peru for about two weeks now and there are so many extraordinary things to visit. But there are also some mysterious things. So in this post I will tell you a bit about an extraordinarily mysterious thing we visited yesterday.

In between the Nazca and Palpa towns on the high desert plateau, there are dotted a few ginormous geoglyphs. These staggering geoglyphs have baffled scientists and archaeologists for a century (since their discovery a 100 years ago). Apparently they were built by the Nazca people, who were much older than my beloved Incas. The Nazca left behind their irrigation systems and some groovy ceramics but their greatest achievement by far was these huge geoglyphs. 

And we FLEW OVER 18 of these outstanding geoglyphs that can't be compared to anything in size or sight! Dan and Ioanna surprised us in the early morning by taking us to the airport to take a private flight as apparently it's the only 'proper' way to see them all. The plane was tiny - 2 pilots and 6 passengers - and the flight was short (it took us a bit more than half an hour to fly over the geoglyphs) but, to be honest, I felt quite dizzy so I was glad when we landed again. 

There are more than 70 human figures (including a figure that they call 'spaceman') and a lot of animal figures (a whale, a spider, a monkey, a hummingbird, a lizard and many more). The largest of all the geoglyphs were the monkey and the parrot. The monkey's tale curled into a spiral that was large and indescribable and seemed too big to be real! One of my favourite ones was the cat. I think my cousin Mariam would also have liked this one. 

The geoglyphs were discovered about a hundred years ago but the archaeoloists estimate that the Nazca lines were created between 500BC and 500 AD. Amazing right? The archaeologists believe that the remarkable Nazca lines have survived so many centuries because it almost never rains on the Peruvian coast. But we still don't know what was their purpose and why did the Nazca built them. Some think that the lines are actually a giant astronomical calendar, others believe that it was a religious ceremony as people would come from all over to that area to walk the lines as a way of worshiping their gods. My favourite theory is that the lines were an alien landing strip! Hehehehe...The other fascinating thing was the theory about how they built the lines: the main archaeologist believes that the lines were created by tying a chord to an axis, just as a compass is used to draw a circle. Others believe that the geoglyphs were made by removing the dark stones from the surface of the desert exposing in this way the silty, light coloured layer below. If you do this carefully, clean lines and spaces of contrast can be generated. If you see them from above, you think that the lines are very deep in the ground but actually the lines and the shapes are very shallow and the thin lines are what defines the figures that were created. Can you imagine how long it must have taken them to draw all of these figures?


  1. that is one amazing trip! my favourite of those astonishing figures is the bird. You gave us so much info, thanks for that, and I'd also like to know just how big the biggest ones are. Did you see them actually on the ground and could you make anything out once you knew what you were looking at? Keep up these terrific blogs.
    love to you all, Sal

    1. We did see them on the ground, from the main road and also from a watch tower. The lines don't look as wide as you think they are from the plane but the geoglyphs are HUGE - hundreds of metres long.

  2. They are quite extraordinary. Wow what an experience. And I knew nothing about the geolyphs. Thank you for sharing. Love the pic of Ismene too. When we meet up I'll tell you a hilarious story about your grand uncle and a tiny plane like the one you went in. Fascinating stuff. Many thanks Orestis. Love to you all.