The Nazca Lines
Just a few miles off the coast of Peru lays one of the greatest and most controversial mystery in South America, and even the World for that matter. Much more so by the fact that, only until relatively recently, these phenomena had remained largely unknown until they resurfaced after hundreds of years-when in 1927, the drawings in the desert where discovered by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe. And even then, they did not get the attention they enjoy today–that is, not until the 1930’s when an aircraft, in search of water in the Nazca region of the Peruvian Desert, acquired a bird’s eye view of the site below; one that, arguably, had never been seen before…at least, not by mortal man up until that time (Krystek). Composed of an armada of geometric figures, perfectly straight lines, and creatures of all kinds sketched in the arid desert floor (including that of, as some have claim, ancient astronauts), the Nazca Lines have plagued the minds of archeologists, independent researchers, and everyone else for that matter, and for the simple question of why? What had been the purpose of the lines and symbols dating back to even before the Inca Empire, 300 B.C.?
The Case of Alien Visitors
One the most popular beliefs out there is that of alien visitor from outer space that came long ago-where, consequently, and due in large part to the writings of the Swiss author Erich von Daniken, this was the site of a massive airport/spaceport, where the Nazcans-or these spacemen-built runways for their landing craft in their journey through the cosmos. However, this theory does not fit well when one takes into consideration that, ” the desert floor at Nazca is soft earth and loose stone, not tarmac, and would not support the landing wheels of either an aircraft or a flying saucer,” or the fact that a hummingbird, or any of the other 200 some animal figures sketched out on the pampa floor, hardly has anything to do with alien visitors (Krystek).
Credibility wise, Daniken has a lot to answer for. It is interesting to take into account that, eight months after his book Chariots of the Gods? was first published in Germany, 1968, he was charged with, “embezzlement, fraud and forgery,” for a business he owned (Hadingam 36). And though the business may not have much to do with the Nazca lines, the fact that he was accused of fraud raises eyebrows. Case in point, this has by far not been the only incident where Daniken-who is largely accredited for the Alien Visitor theory–has slipped up. In one point in his same book, Chariots of the Gods?, he makes reference to a photo of what he claims to be “parking bays” of which do resemble that of a modern airport. However, there is one major flaw with the image he provides as evidence of his theory. As it where, the photo actually showed the foot and knee of a huge bird.
There are, however, key points/evidence that, to the average reader, seem very reasonable, very drawing to the imagination. As Erich Von Daniken shows in his Arrival of the Gods: Revealing the Alien Landing Sites of Nazca the image he provides does indeed resemble that of a runway with even a complimentary “slipway” branching off and then running parallel to the runway itself (9). The similarities, though, do not merit the whole labyrinth that constitutes the Nazca lines–that is, if one would actually believe this theory. Truly, it does have a particularly luring effect–in tickling our imaginations–no matter how spectacular it sounds, and thus the reason for its popularity.
The Importance of Water and the Mountain Gods?
One must take into account the religious history of the Nazcans to try and understand why they would take on a feat that would span over a millennium. During the time of the Inca, and indeed, much before their rise to power-and around the time of the first Nazca drawings–mountains and hills worship was in much practice in the Andrea Mountain region. And as stated by Johan Reinhard in his The Nazca Lines, Water and Mountains: An Ethnoarcheological Study, they were worshiped for many reasons, including: the people of the area believing that they originated from the mountain gods themselves, the belief that the souls of men would make the mountains their homes in the after-life, the continued health of their livestock, and above all that, ” [their] deities [were] perceived as the controllers of meteorological phenomena (rain, hail, frost, clouds, lightning, etc.) (365). Thus giving way to the concept that, if they control the weather-especially that of life giving rain-then they also have a hand in the prosperity of the people via growth of crops. (This is also where the importance of water comes into play, as many rituals during the time centered on the giving of water to the parched western coast of Peru.) Indeed, much to confirm this, in 1623, a Catholic priest by the name of Vicente Severino wrote the testimonies of many people at Nazca and learned that no shrine existed in the villages because the people went to worship at the springs and on the various mountains in the region (Reinhard 367). Consequently, the worship of mountains deities and the importance of water could well have played a key factor in the creation of the Nazca lines.
However, the mystery still remains.
Daniken, Erich Von. Introduction. ARRIVAL OF THE GODS: REVEALING THE ALIEN LANDING SITES OF NAZCA. Print.
Hadingham, Evan. Lines To The Mountain Gods: Nazca and the Mysteries of Peru. New York, NY: Random House, 1987. Print.
Krystek, Lee. “The Lines of Nazca Peru.” The Museum of UnNatural Mystery. 1997. Web. 15 Nov. 2011.
Reinhard, Johan. “The Nazca Lines, Water and Mountains: An Ethnoarchaeological Study.” Recent Studies in Pre-Columbian Archaeology (1988): 368-414. Print.